Surrey International Writers’ Conference is still eight months away but event organizers are already planning a virtual gathering, for a second straight year.
The 2021 dates for the annual conference, known as SiWC, are from Oct. 22 to 24.
“SiWC will be virtual again this year,” conference co-ordinator Kathy Chung told subscribers in an email Tuesday (Feb. 23).
“Like SiWC 2020, we’ll have virtual social spaces, night owl events, and more in addition to master classes, workshops, panels, and keynotes, all online.
“We did not make this decision lightly,” Chung added. “We simply could not see a path to non-essential travel and gathering by the hundreds in hotel banquet rooms being safe by October. Part of our rationale was the proposed vaccination schedule for BC, which, if all goes as planned, has our younger adults not being vaccinated until September/October.”
COVID-19 willing, the event will be back at the Sheraton hotel in Guildford in 2022, Chung noted.
“I hope you’ll join us for this year’s SiWC at Home. We were all thrilled with how well SiWC at Home 2020 went, and are working to make 2021 memorable, too.
“In the coming weeks we’ll post this year’s registration rates, and our presenters and program will be on our website (siwc.ca) closer to registration opening. Registration will open, as usual, the first Wednesday in June at noon Pacific.”
Last October, the online-only SiWC powered up with more people signed up than in previous years.
The 28th annual event, re-imagined as “SiWC at Home,” was announced in April 2020, a few weeks after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.
Annually, the conference fills the Sheraton hotel with close to 700 delegates – but not last year, when the online edition united writers from 17 countries.
“With attendees, volunteers, staff, and presenters, we’re close to 750 (registrants),” Chung said at the time. “It’s bigger than the regular conference, which is no doubt in part due to the fact that we consistently sell out the available space in the hotel very quickly. We had a bit more flexibility with virtual space and so were able to accommodate more people.”