Although we received an unprecedented number of abstracts for SHARP 2020 in Amsterdam, I am afraid global circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed with a conference in 2020. Like most academic societies around the world, SHARP has decided to postpone this year’s conference to July 11th-15th 2022 (with reservation). In light of the enthusiasm for meeting in Amsterdam and because of all the hard work and exciting plans of the Amsterdam conference committee, we intend to hold a SHARP annual conference in Amsterdam as soon as global travel permits.
Given the current uncertainties for most of us about what might happen even next week, we cannot yet provide clear plans for a possible conference in 2022. The Executive Council is working closely with Lisa Kuitert and the other members of the Amsterdam committee. We are also benefiting from the discussion and experience of other societies made available to us through our membership of ACLS (the American Council of Learned Societies). But all of the organisations and institutions that are contributing to our conference are in a disrupted state just now and finalising plans may take several months.
SHARP has members in areas of the world that are being ravaged by the spread of the coronavirus, and our thoughts are with all those who are suffering and worrying about loved ones. We are aware that some prospective conference delegates had already made travel plans and we have made this decision as quickly as possible in hopes that they are able to recover at least some of the costs incurred.
As an organization SHARP could experience financial losses in the form of venue cancellation fees, but this is still a small sum by comparison with other academic societies that hold their conferences at major hotels and conference centers. We are working with the Amsterdam teams to keep the losses low. We are also counting on you to maintain your membership and enjoy the rich scholarship of Book History, enhanced by the relaunch of SHARP News programmed for later this year. Anyone having to self-isolate will be grateful for some mental floss to sustain the spirit. Let our community be a source of solidarity during this difficult time.
This same message will be sent out via ConfTools to all those who submitted abstracts for the conference. I apologise for any duplication, but we want to ensure everyone is informed of this decision as soon as possible. I would also ask that you please refrain from contacting the conference organisers until the Executive Council posts further details of plans. Like all of us, they are facing their own personal challenges in adjusting to our new world, but on top of that, they are busy figuring out how best to mount a future conference. I promise that we will update everyone as soon as we have reached any decisions. We appreciate your patience, and please understand if we are unable to respond to individual queries until we have resolved these larger matters.
On behalf of the Executive Council and the Amsterdam Conference Committee,