The Golden Link Sounding Board began monitoring, discussing, and decision-making concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. The first decisions regarded moving to a weekly Zoom sing-around (implemented a week before the NYS restrictions were published) and continuing with the already scheduled March concert (Dana and Susan Robinson) which would be the last live concert until safe to do so.
Since then, the Board has considered COVID developments during every Sounding Board meeting since February 2020. Our August 2021 meeting included conversation about the implications of the current Delta Variant. At the beginning, the Board committed to following the State and CDC guidelines currently in effect. Those guidelines changed often—sometimes weekly …. or less. We are blessed to have several Board members who monitor the statistics, developments, and requirements. That input is part of our discussion, debate and decisions. Foremost in those discussions has been “Doing what is best and safest for all of our members, guests/visitors, performers, and the wider community. When we have tightened or reduced restrictions, we have consistently followed the recommendations of the experts.
We have not felt compelled to produce specific “fail-safe” or “contingency” plans for two reasons: (1) The regular monitoring of situations, and continuing contact with one another and with performers has enabled the Board to pivot well and to adjust when necessary; and (2) We recognize that any decision is itself a contingency, because no one can say what will be in place in the next 24 hours, and certainly months out.
We have also come to discover the things we are able to do and the things we cannot do.
We can host a live one-day Festival, require online registration and proof of vaccination by all attendees. At this point the status of our area is that masks are not required with such protection in place. Should masks be required, we can and will require masks. If the pandemic returns to a point where it would not be safe to hold an in-person Festival, we can and would cancel the Festival and return ticket payments to all who registered. We can and will cancel events if the hosting sites ceased to permit live events.
We have recognized that we cannot shift to a virtual or pre-recorded Festival. To do so would still necessitate cancelling the live Festival and returning tickets. To do so would greatly reduce the quality of what we could provide. Moreover, the internet service at the Sunshine Camp precludes that option. We have kept in contact with the Sunshine Camp and Rochester Christian Reformed Church concerning their policies.
We are blessed that 2021 is the 50th anniversary of Golden Link and 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the Festival. Next year we can combine the two anniversaries, much as we have this year.
The Board understands that we cannot control nor accurately predict events that develop daily, and that we cannot control what people will or will not do. Each of us has taken responsibility for how we will respond on behalf of the safety of everyone. Each of us has affirmed that we will maximize the options we have available, while encouraging persons to exercise appropriate responsibility for their own decisions, even a decision to not attend an event they might otherwise attend.
Last, I want to honor the hard work of the Festival Committee—and the leadership of the Chair, Betty Smits—for diligently planning what promises to be a fine festival. The pandemic has required a different type of work and thinking than previous ones, and throughout they have demonstrated patience, mutual support, creativity, and love for the organization and the purpose for which we exist. We all owe them our gratitude and appreciation. Each of our 2021 performers have commented to me how impressed and grateful they are for the care with which we are approaching September 11. One said, “I have been using Golden Link as a model for other festivals. What you are doing is wonderful.” Even in a trying time we can deepen and broaden what it means to preserve and encourage the presentation and enjoyment of folk music.”
Val Fowler, President