Wonder what’s going on with the our Annual Meeting planning? Read on to find answers to your questions. Have additional questions? Contact us.

This FAQ is a work in progress. We will continue to update it as our planning evolves.

Planning Process Questions

What will the program be like?

This year, AFS is offering up to two days of dedicated virtual programming, October 11-12, in addition to a four-day, in-person gathering in Portland, Oregon, November 1-4. 

AFS will also offer virtual access to some Portland-based programming in the form of streamed keynotes, a limited number of hybrid sessions, and more session recordings.

As usual, the lion’s share of the program depends on the proposals or presentations and events that are submitted by participants. If there is something you’d like to see, help us make it happen! Contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss options.

When will the program be released?

The preliminary program will be posted in June. Presenters will have two weeks from the day the preliminary program is posted to request corrections or changes. A revised schedule of concurrent sessions should be available by the end of July, though additional information about events may continue to emerge through August and September.

Why will the sessions be scheduled for 90 minutes by default? Can I organize a 120-minute session?

We found that 90-minute session blocks worked well in 2021 and 2022 to reduce Zoom fatigue in virtual sessions, to allow more time for sanitizing and ventilating rooms in the conference hotel, and to give attendees an opportunity to mingle and network between sessions.

As in past years, 90-minute sessions are the default in 2023, because the shorter session block will give us much greater flexibility in scheduling our long conference days. We may be able to avoid scheduling so many sessions at one time, or even find a way to start later than 8:00 am — both are dreams that are hard to realize given our usual scheduling pressures.

Yes, we will accommodate pre-organized panels that require 120 minutes. The session proposal form will include a tick box that you may use to indicate your need for the longer block.

Will there be a virtual program in 2023?

Yes: to support those who can’t travel to Portland, AFS is offering up to two days of dedicated virtual programming, October 11-12, in addition to a four-day, in-person gathering in Portland, Oregon, November 1-4. Virtual attendees can expect access to some Portland-based programming in the form of streamed keynotes, a limited number of hybrid sessions, and more session recordings, as well as the full virtual program October 11-12.

I would be interested in hearing about the breakdown of costs of a hybrid or virtual conference. Is a virtual meeting cheaper than an in-person meeting?

We know many of you are curious about costs and the meeting planning process. We could talk about this for hours.

For now, in short and generally speaking, virtual meetings are not necessarily cheaper, and we are finding that they can cost as much or more for AFS than our typical in-person meeting. As we explore our options, we are focused on producing the most engaging virtual meeting possible while keeping costs similar to meetings in previous years.

Virtual meeting costs include remote meeting software licenses to meet the number of sessions needed, a platform (website and backend) to run the meeting, and considerable staff time (with additional tech staff support) in planning, production, and attendee support (more than for an in-person meeting). Other important add-ons include networking, on-demand access of videos, processes to make signing-in to the platform easier for attendees, and tech support. Some features, like an event platform with networking, tend to have a significant fixed cost as an entry point; then, in general, the variable that affects pricing more than most is the number of sessions and the labor needed to prepare and execute the meeting.

AFS in-person meeting costs include AV equipment and production (the single biggest price tag is internet, projectors, and screens in each meeting room), food and beverage, honoraria, travel support, and staff time. In-person meetings have a lower threshold for fixed costs, but higher variable costs and higher potential liabilities to the conference venue if meeting attendees can’t participate. (We urge all attendees who can afford to stay at the meeting hotel to do so, since this will help us meet our contractual obligation.) As in the case of virtual meetings, the variable that has the biggest impact on cost is the number of sessions.

A true “hybrid” meeting, which aims to deliver an in-person meeting and a virtual meeting simultaneously, with live broadcasts of local content and virtual participation in local sessions, is the most expensive option, since it essentially adds all the basic costs of one mode to all the costs of the other. There are additional AV costs to integrate the two modes, as well, and industry experts agree that hybrid meetings require roughly 3-4 times the number of staff hours of a conventional meeting.

Our 2021 commitment to both in-person meeting and virtual components exceeded the costs of either an in-person meeting or virtual meeting taken individually, but they did not rise to the level of a true hybrid model, as we reined in costs by limiting the scale of each. Our 2022 commitment to building a significant track of hybrid programming into the Tulsa meeting exceeded the costs to produce in-person and virtual components in 2021, but once again they did not rise to the level of a fully hybrid conference.

We’re pleased to report that we built our virtual meeting hub ourselves, saving approximately $30,000 in third-party vendor fees in the process in 2021 and again in 2022. This infrastructure project was also an investment in the future, since any use of proprietary platforms would be an annual cost. More than that, doing it ourselves allowed us to build a platform customized to our present needs that is also flexible and robust enough to be refined and rescaled for the future. We’re now not only less dependent on service providers, but also more capable of shaping the tool to emerging needs. 

What plans are in place to deal with COVID-19?

We will monitor the situation so that our policies can best address the conditions that face us in the fall. AFS and the conference hotel are prepared to implement preventative measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Specifically, AFS will follow local and national public health regulations concerning masking and capacity limits within the conference venue. AFS will not conduct health checks or screenings.

We will update the section on “COVID-19 Risk” in our Annual Meeting Policies as required by circumstances. Contact us at [email protected] for questions.

Registration and Fees

Where do I register?

What are the registration rates?

We have discounted our 2023 meeting fees by offering the member-discounted rates to all, without the requirement that attendees have an active AFS membership. 

Registration revenue is essential but not sufficient to cover the cost of our 2023 annual meeting, just as membership revenue is necessary but not enough to cover our wide range of activities throughout the year. 

We are grateful to all those who can support AFS at one of our membership and registration tiers.

I’m currently facing financial difficulties. Is there a source for financial assistance?

Yes, the American Folklore Society is committed to making participation in AFS and the AFS annual meeting as widely accessible as possible.

If financial hardship will prevent you from participating in this year’s meeting, we invite you to apply for financial support, like a registration discount or fee waiver.

Submitting a Proposal

What is the timeline for submitting proposals?

The call for proposals is posted in mid-February. The proposal submission portal will be open March 1 to March 31.

Instructions about how to submit proposals will be added to the 2023 Annual Meeting page when they are available.

How do I submit a proposal?

Can I present virtually in 2023?

Probably. To support presenters who can’t travel to Portland, individual presenters and chairs of pre-organized sessions will have the opportunity to select between virtual or in-person presentation modes when they submit their proposals. Chairs may also apply to be considered for one of the limited number of hybrid slots in Portland.

See Will there be a virtual program in 2023? above for more information about our plans.

Exhibiting and Sponsoring

How do I sponsor registration scholarships for the AFS Annual Meeting?

Thanks for considering this! Donations to the Sustainers’ Fund will help subsidize participation in the annual meeting by those who would otherwise not be able to attend.

I want to sponsor an event. What steps should I take?

Contact us at [email protected] for more information.

Last updated: 2023