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A Change in Plans

This is the email that I was hoping I would not have to write. For the past month, I’ve held onto hope that the Focus on the Story Visual Storytelling Summit would go on as scheduled. I was excited about our stellar lineup of speakers and our planned opening night party at the Swedish Embassy (which we hadn’t even announced, yet).

But the reality is that the world has changed and we’re now facing the greatest public health and economic crisis of our lifetime. It’s clear based on what epidemiology experts are saying that we will not be past the threat of the coronavirus by the end of May.

Because the health of our attendees, speakers, volunteers and the DC, Virginia and Maryland communities, as a whole, is much more important than our event, it is with the deepest regrets that we are canceling this year’s in-person Visual Storytelling Summit.

For those who registered, you will receive an email from us within the next two weeks with options that include rolling your registration over to 2021 or receiving a full refund.

However, we wouldn’t be the team that brought you FOTS18 and FOTS19, if we didn’t have a plan on how to move past this disappointment.

We will be bringing you the world’s first (as far as we know) virtual photo festival. The Focus on the Story International Photo Festival 2020 will take place, for the most part, online this June.

We will be updating our schedule with online talks, panel discussions, critiques and contests. We’ll do most of it on Zoom and livestreams on Facebook and YouTube. We’ll bring you some of the world’s best visual storytellers, including some of the folks who would have presented at this year’s summit.

This will all be free and streamed live and open to fans of visual storytelling around the world. It won’t completely make up for the cancellation of this year’s summit (because we were looking forward to seeing everyone in person) but we’re pretty excited about putting this together for our community!

We’ve also got a big announcement coming up about a grant we will award this June to a visual storyteller doing impactful work. The world needs visual storytellers now more than ever, and we’re pleased that the money we raised through our #GivingTuesday campaign will be redirected to support work that is making a difference.

We'll be posting details about our virtual photo festival on our website. And be sure to keep an eye on the schedule of events, which we’ll be revamping in the coming weeks with information on how to watch. In the meantime, we will be hosting some online chats and discussions to help us test out the tech -- so be sure to join our Facebook Group to keep up with those beta sessions.

Whether we’re back in person in 2021 or 2022, we WILL return. In the meantime, we want you and all of your loved ones to stay safe and healthy. 

Best regards,

Joe Newman
Executive Director

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