Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Great American Think-Off debate has been cancelled. This year’s question, “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?” will become the question debated at the 2021 Think-Off, scheduled to be held June 12, 2021.

The Great American Think-Off has been running uninterrupted for 27 years. This difficult decision was made to ensure both the safety of the participants and attendees, and the quality and integrity of the event in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of this postponement, there will be no finalists announced May 1, 2020 and no debate held on June 13, 2020. The 2020 question has now become the 2021 question. Essays are now due April 1, 2021 with the four finalists announced May 1, 2021. The 2021 Think-Off live debate will be held on June 12, 2021 in New York Mills.

Because of these unprecedented circumstances, those who have already submitted an essay for the 2020 Think-Off can choose to keep their original essay or submit a new or revised version. Please visit think-off.org for more information.

This question has become even more relevant than expected during this time of stay-at-home orders and new social distancing rules. Winning vs. rule-following is also a timeless topic, so essays can focus on whatever topics the writers choose, but should be based on personal experience rather than philosophical abstraction.

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, who has hosted the Think-Off since 1993, is a small rural arts organization located in tiny New York Mills, MN (population 1200). Its mission, vision, and values are all about community, connections and creativity, and the power of the arts in bringing people together in celebration of art and culture, local and world, artists and all citizens, for the betterment of the whole. The Think-Off is the Cultural Center’s longest-running, most well-known program, and truly embodies the spirit of the organization, providing an opportunity for big thinking and civil discourse in the heart of rural America.

Based on the organization’s focus on community and the current COVID-19 crisis, and the fact that the Think-Off debate historically brings together so many people from such a wide geographic swath, this postponement was the most responsible choice with a focus on the health and safety of all.

For more information, visit www.think-off.org, or call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339.