Friends of Clayathon,
After much consideration, the organizers of Clayathon have decided to cancel the Clayathon 2023 retreat at the Seaview Dolce Hotel. This means that the online component will also be cancelled. Everyone’s money will be refunded in full including any cancellation penalty if you cancelled before January 2. The Clayathon organizers have been working on the many aspects of Clayathon for more than eight months, and do not take this decision lightly. We ask for your understanding.
We started with an acceptable number of registrants, but have had a number of cancellations which would likely have increased in the coming days. This makes holding Clayathon fiscally unfeasible.
Clayathon, Inc. is contractually obligated to fill a certain number of hotel room nights at the Seaview during Clayathon. Those numbers and our budget are based on responses to a survey we sent out in May, 2022 to determine how many people would be likely to attend Clayathon in February 2023. Clayathon, Inc. is financially obligated to pay for rooms allotted to us if we cannot fill them. This is a standard agreement for a conference, and was never an issue in the 15 years we have been holding Clayathon retreats. But COVID has changed the playing field.
Last May, it looked like a 2023 retreat could really happen. People were looking forward to it. But with COVID-19 cases increasing this winter, people are more reluctant to travel or attend large gatherings. Ironically, others have not registered because they do not want to wear masks in the work room, which was a requirement to participate in Clayathon. We make no judgment in this regard. We just want to underscore how COVID has made planning a retreat more difficult.
With the difficulties we are facing, the most expedient thing to do is to cancel Clayathon immediately to give you sufficient time to cancel your hotel reservations and any travel arrangements you might have made.
As stated above, everyone who registered will be entitled to a full refund. Those who cancelled prior to January 2, 2023, will have their cancellation penalty fee refunded as well. If you reserved a room at the Seaview, you will have to contact them separately to cancel. We suggested you do this as soon as possible.
Please note that the cancellation of Clayathon at the Seaview means that the virtual component of Clayathon is also cancelled. This was stated in our cancellation policy that went out with registration materials. While the pandemic forced us to go virtual in 2021 and 2022, Clayathon was never intended to be an online event. Virtual registrants will also receive full refunds.
What About Next Year?
That’s up to you.
Clayathon started out as a local South Jersey event in 2006. Most of the volunteers lived in South Jersey or a short drive away. Arlene Groch was the founder, and the heart, soul and head of Clayathon. She is a master organizer and Clayathon was her passion. She had to step down last year, although she remains a valuable resource to us.
Currently, none of the board members or organizers are local. It has become increasingly difficult to get volunteers. The lion’s share of the work falls on the shoulders of a few people. Clayathon’s president Linda O’Brien, board member Martha Aleo and artistic director Kathleen Dustin are all stepping down at the end of February, 2023.
Clayathon, Inc., is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation. Aside from planning Clayathon, the organizers have spent the last year reviewing and reorganizing the documents and history of Clayathon, Inc. and making adjustments to its finances and banking so it could be handed off to new volunteers.
We are looking for new board members and ideas for keeping Clayathon alive. If no one is interested or able to make a commitment, then Clayathon’s time has passed. We will have had an excellent run, and our final duties will be finding a worthy organization to receive what remains in our treasury, and winding up the corporation.
If you would like to discuss joining the Clayathon board, or have other ideas for continuing Clayathon in future years, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda O’Brien, President, Clayathon, Inc.
Martha Aleo, Clayathon Organizer