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2019 Annual Convention: Ideas and Speakers Submissions

Topic Areas

Topic areas that we’re particularly interested in addressing include (we’ll ask you whether your idea resonates with any of these):

  • Advocacy and Policy
  • Arts Education and Creative Youth Development
  • Community Development/Creative Placemaking
  • Creative Economy
  • Cultural Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Engaging Private Sector
  • Fundraising and Revenue Generation
  • Investment and Grantmaking
  • Leadership Development
  • Marketing, Communications, and Engagement
  • Operations and Internal Capacity
  • Partnerships and Collaborations
  • Public Art and Civic Design
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Social Impact and Public Value

Themes and focus areas


This year, we have five loose themes, as well as three focus areas where we will be dedicating up to 4 sessions. Please see descriptions below—you will be asked to indicate which theme(s) your idea or speaker relates to.

Culture and Community

The boundaries of the “community” to be served and the “culture” to be supported are broader than currently at play in a lot of arts programming. These sessions will explore case studies and spark conversations about how nexus organizations, arts institutions and artists, and others are pushing at those boundaries and supporting a broader spectrum of artistic enterprise.

Equitable Engagement

The nature of engagement and equitable policies and practices in the arts can lag behind the demands of the communities. Where are our bright spots, and what are our challenges? These sessions will explore equity in action, and will highlight innovative, genuine ways that arts groups are deeply engaging with the full breadth of their communities.

Equitable Investment (Including and Beyond Grantmaking)

Supporting the full creative spectrum extends beyond simple grant investment, and requires more flexibility and thought about formal investment as well as the informal investment of time, resources, etc. On scales large and small, nexus organizations—local arts agencies, foundations, other agencies, and more—are borrowing models or crafting new ones from scratch designed to make the distribution of funds more equitable, the likelihood of success higher, and the systems that need changing more visible. These sessions will bring success to the fore and will offer opportunities to grapple with some of the challenges.

Cross-Sector and Community Partnership

The visibility and value of the arts increases when they are tied to parts of community and individual life that are visible and valued, making partnership crucial. But what makes a successful partnership, and how (among all of the challenges that any arts group is facing today) can we identify where to put our energy, how to maintain and grow a connection, and how to create common goals? Given that new community visions cannot happen in a vacuum, these sessions will explore what being part of the interconnected reality of today’s community looks like.

Communicating Our Value

If our fate is tied up in how much people value what we do, then we need to place more of a premium on the communication of that value. These sessions with stretch all the way from marketing and promotion to communications, advocacy, public will-building, and policy—all of the steps along the way to creating a strong and sustaining value proposition for the arts.

Focus Area: Arts in Municipal Settings

Increasingly cities and towns are engaging artists to bring new capacities to municipal government to enhance approaches to internal needs and external civic goals. In 2019, up to four sessions will be crafted to explore the nature of these artist-municipal partnerships.  Areas of interest include how artists are adding value to: 1) municipal ways of working (problem solving, planning, public engagement, community relations, fresh approaches to delivering services); 2) mayoral, city-wide, or departmental priorities (system change, addressing issues of equity and racial disparity); and 3) addressing particular issues (e,g, police-youth tensions; public safety; environment).  Sessions might look at: the role of Local Arts Agencies as instigators and intermediaries; structures and funding of partnerships; principles and practices of effective artist-municipal partnerships; and defining success and impacts.

Focus Area: Creative Economy

Up to four sessions will be specifically crafted to explore three areas of the creative economy and public/private partnerships. Focus will be given to four areas: 1) equitable and innovative funding models that support creative entrepreneurs, creative industries, the nonprofit arts community and/or some combination of the three; 2) creative private sector/nonprofit partnerships (partnerships with the creative industries that address community development needs, creating opportunities for employment/quality jobs, mapping/identifying the creative economy in one’s community); 3) creative entrepreneurs (connecting makers and creatives with economic and/or community development initiatives, online income-earning platforms for artists i.e Etsy/Instagram/YouTube etc, cultivating grass-roots support for pro-arts policies among individual creatives/artists/makers); 4) influencing public/private policy (cultural plans that include resources for the creative economy, impact investing, changes in grantmaking and the effect on nonprofit arts funding, community foundation funding of arts and creatives).

Focus Area: Intercultural Leadership

Enacting equity means embracing, respecting, and nurturing leadership in ways, models, and formats that may not be yours. In 2019, up to four sessions will be specifically crafted to engage with the concepts of intercultural leadership in the arts. Specific focus will be given to three areas: 1) new or landmark research or thought on the definitions, challenges, and best practices related to an equitable and inclusive leadership path; 2) sessions particularly geared to historically non-privileged models of leadership and work, in keeping with our ongoing work on cultural equity; 3) presentations or examples of successful outcomes and models related to intercultural leadership, new ways of working, and sustainable, equitable practice.