Here at AST, we’ve paused live events over the last year, waiting for better public health news before proposing people travel to spend time in a group together. It’s been almost two years since the last live CAST. We miss each other, and we miss you.
We’ve decided that we are going to have CAST 2021 in person, and would like to invite you to join us. CAST 2021 is going to be held in Atlanta on November 8th and 9th. It will be held in Truist Park – the home field of the Atlanta Braves. Expect many baseball references in the coming months!
We’re concerned for the health of everyone involved – attendees, speakers, and the people that we work with at the venue, along with their friends and families. We will require proof of vaccination for all attendees. We’ve chosen a location and a venue that will allow much of CAST to be outdoors, so that we can hopefully see and speak with each other freely without masks. We will depend on public health guidance on how a fully vaccinated conference could and should interact.
In previous years, we’d have a 12-month planning window. Nine months before the conference, we’d commit to a venue and enlist multiple tracks of speakers and tutorials, financing a conference that breaks even when we eventually sell enough tickets. It’s magical and joyful when we create a small ratio of speakers to attendees, bringing our community together to be with friends and learn. It’s also stressful worrying about selling enough tickets and sponsorships, especially in a world that suddenly had so many professionally-run testing conferences in the late 2010’s (and presumably will again in 2022). It’s hard to guess at appetites and budgets for travel/conferences in 2021.
We’re going to try something new, putting it together fast and at a different scale. We’ll do what we can to make it feel like CAST – lots of facilitated discussion in each session, plenty of downtime for catching up and networking, and inclusive evening activities. Smaller conferences are more intimate, and many life-long friendships have been forged and nurtured in these settings. We’re very enthusiastic about a small CAST, and in creating something that can support a few dozen people who want to come together and talk about testing with other seekers. CAST 2021 will be sized for 50 attendees to be financially viable, though it can accommodate more.