Kindness eases change
Love quiets fear

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents
Two people sitting together. Credit: Ara Howrani
Credit: Ara Howrani

We begin by listening

We know that a virtual conference will be a radically different experience than the in-person convening. We will need to cast new spells to open the possibility for a different kind of magic to emerge.  Many more people, who could never previously experience the physical conference due to access barriers will now be able to engage as full participants. At the same time, we will need creative ways of providing connectivity for folks in our network without reliable Internet. 

On March 31st  we called on the AMC community to help us shape what a virtual AMC can be through an online survey. Over the following two weeks, close to 500 people completed the survey, sharing their grief, excitement, concerns and dreams for a virtual AMC. 

Responses came from across the U.S., Caribbean and the U.K. 85% of people who proposed AMC sessions told us they would be willing to offer their content in a virtual format. 48% of survey respondents told us they wanted us to keep the same June dates (25th – 28th) that we’ve had locked in our calendars since 2018. But, overall folks also understood that we are facing unprecedented times and moving to a virtual space requires some heavy adjustment and learning in order to ensure we continue to have a magical, safe and accessible AMC.

With this in mind  we have decided to change the days of the conference to July 23rd-26th.

The additional month will give us breathing room to work at a more humane pace, while recalibrating all of our plans and essentially building a new conference.  

In response to the survey question, “what do we need to be considering, as we make the shift to a virtual AMC?” we received an outpouring of wisdom. The five major themes that emerged are: 

  • Accessibility– How will we make the conference as accessible as possible for those with limited internet or computer access, and language interpretation needs, including ASL/closed captioning?
  • Safety– What safety precautions will the AMC take to ensure there is privacy, holistic safe spaces and support mechanisms? 
  • Ease & care- How will we ensure we can  navigate a virtual conference with ease and respect for peoples on/off line selfcare?
  • Support for presenters– How will we support presenters as they pivot their sessions to a virtual space? 
  • AMC Magic– How will we (attempt to) translate the magical components of the AMC to the virtual world? Everything from the glorious AMC fashion to romantic encounters, to karaoke and dancefloors, and eating together? 

Making these adjustments is essential. And, it will be no small feat.  As a result, we are planning to massively scale down the amount of AMC content that we are presenting.  We will only be accepting the number of sessions for which we can realistically provide all of the above.  We are exploring options for an “AMC continued” series through which additional content can be shared beyond the conference weekend. 

In response to the question, “what are the conversations we should be having right now?” survey respondents told us: 

  • Adapting to life under Covid-19– How are we adapting our lifestyles, workflows, organizing and communities?
  • Digital Organizing– What kind of organizing models are being designed during a pandemic?
  • Collective Care & Trauma– How do we hold rest and pleasure during a pandemic? What holistic approaches are there for grief, mental health and healthcare?
  • Imagining Alternative Realities & New Futures– What are the next generation of movements? What are the communal practices for housing, labor, care of the future? Can we design a new economy?
  • AMC Classics– Detroit revolutionary genius, hands-on media-making, disability justice, peoples’ AI, counter-surveillance, etc! 

AMC at Night has a special place in everyone’s heart. Now more than ever we need joy and the pleasure of being on the  dance floor. People shared so many magical moments from past AMC’s they would want to relive in a virtual space, but essentially it comes down to two main things:

  • Continue to build and nurture a community with virtual dinners, shared recipes, virtual hangouts for intimate conversations and even blind dates.
  • Celebrate and prioritize joy! Opportunities to enjoy the creative and musical talents of Detroit, find release on the dancefloor, sing out hearts outta tune with karaoke and admire our stylings and flair. 

We are sitting with your thoughts, and holding on to them as we work to produce Virtual AMC 2020. We are so thankful and humbled by your love and support; even when holding grief and loss, our community is extremely generous and caring.