Our History


For more than 60 years, the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention has gathered artists, arts administrators, advocates, and public and private sector funders together to build stronger networks and more vibrant and equitable towns, counties, and cities through the arts. What started as a small group of 45 people in 1955 has now grown to more than 1,100 each year.

Throughout that time, we’ve been raising up the best in our field, sharing the successes and challenges in our day-to-day work, and hearing expert advice from an impressive list of keynotes including Nancy Pelosi, Tony Kushner, Donna Brazile, Bryan Stevenson, Jeff Chang, Diane Paulus, John Lewis, and Robert Redford. Annual Convention is your opportunity to join leaders in arts education, cultural diversity, community development, public art, and more to learn from one another and create positive change.


On June 14-17, Americans for the Arts and our members are heading to Denver, CO for the 2018 Annual Convention! Expansive and welcoming, Denver is a city where creativity and innovation can be found anywhere. From street art and murals to music that is redefining and confounding genres, Denver artists are taking every opportunity to entertain, question, and inspire.   

Join us on June 14-17 to discover what makes Denver such a creative and innovative city—and the perfect destination for the 2018 Annual Convention!

Over 3 keynotes, 3 Preconferences, and more than 35 sessions, the 2018 Annual Convention will explore the role of the arts in creating and sustaining healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities.
Sessions will revolve around five core themes:

  • Culture and Community: How do we expand the power of our work to strengthen all communities and transform culture?
  • Equity and Engagement: How can we revise our policies and practices to be truly equitable and engage the full breadth of our communities?
  • Investment (Including and Beyond Grantmaking): What tools, models, and strategies do grant makers need to make distribution of funds more equitable, the likelihood of success higher, and the systems that need changing more visible?
  • Cross-Sector and Community Partnership: How do we create and grow successful cross-sector and community partnerships?
  • Communicating Our Value: How can we more effectively communicate through marketing, advocacy, and public will-building and policy, the value of the arts?

Looking for additional information? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page or take a look at our Past Highlights page.