[African Wikimedians] IMPORTANT: Wiki Loves Africa Events

Dear All

As some of you might have heard, all grantees have received an email from Katherine Maher (in full below) requesting that in-person events representing Wikimedia communities be postponed or cancelled until the risk of contracting COVID-19 is no more. This obviously affects all the Wiki Loves Africa events that are yet to occur. I know that the levels of anxiety and fear across Africa are not nearly as high as the ones in Europe or the US, but the threat remains, and it only takes one infected person who doesn’t know they are sick to infect many people.

Those of you with rapid grants or other funding should please take this request very seriously. Those without direct funding please consider the request to cancel all in-person events. Please let your community, partners and possible attendees know immediately.

As Katherine says, the obvious answer is to push for more online effort - in the case of WIki Loves Africa this could be encouragement and mentoring? What other things can be done that do not require person to person contact? All ideas are welcome - and we look forward to discussing them at the meeting that Florence has organised: mention your availability here: https://doodle.com/poll/7qcpvsv3vum34kwq

If you want to chat about this request with the WLA community, please join the Telegram group via this link: https://t.me/joinchat/FI9fz0pnPNiWbyyLr-YsFQ

Thank you!!

Isla and Florence

+++ Katherine’s Message to Grantees +++

Summary:

  • All offline (in-person) public events funded by Wikimedia Foundation grants must be cancelled or postponed until further notice
  • Cancellation fees, other penalties, and expenses already incurred can be covered through grant funds
  • Not complying with these instructions might affect future grant requests
  • We will not be approving new grants for offline events happening before September 15, 2020 until further notice
  • Please contact your program officers for further guidance

Dear Wikimedia Foundation Grantees,

We are writing to provide guidance for grant-funded programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] This situation is rapidly evolving, and we have made some decisions that we would like to communicate to you.

Cancelling events

We have reviewed the current global public health landscape and we ask all grantees to postpone or cancel all public events and activities until the World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic over.

We know this might be a difficult decision to make, and that this will mean cancelling events of great importance to our community. We understand and appreciate all the efforts you have put into preparing these events, from requesting a grant to public outreach.

However, our first priority is the health and safety of you, your Wikimedia community, and the general public health. Global public health guidance indicates that the more quickly the world responds to a pandemic, the better off the outcomes. In order to safeguard free knowledge, we must also prioritize the well-being of the people who make it possible.

Next steps

It’s important to keep our communities together and connected during this time. We encourage you to consider if there are other ways you can repurpose the grant funds toward other mission-aligned activities, such as holding events or meetings online.

Your program officer is available if you want to discuss ideas for other ways to use your grant funds, so please reach out to us if you would like to talk. If you are unable or decide not to repurpose your event, you and your program officer will work together to repurpose the funds to a later grant or return the funds to the Wikimedia Foundation.

We are asking people to take this seriously. If we learn that you held an event using Wikimedia Foundation funds after receiving this request to cancel, we reserve the right to withhold funding for future grants.

We are here to support you and your communities through these challenging circumstances. Stay safe!

With thanks,

Katherine Maher

P.S. If you have any questions about this notice or your grant, please contact your program officer.

[1] https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Apologies for the delay in this getting to you - this was written a while back, but was only able to leave my inbox today. Florence will update you with the resolutions from Saturday’s crisis meeting.

Thank you!

Isla