What does it take to truly support the full creative life for all? We want to hear what you think are the topics, concepts, theories, practices!  Your ideas will directly inform the creation of 25-30 main conference breakout sessions and another 15 or so preconference breakouts representing the full breadth of what is concerning and exciting advocates today!

Submit your ideas or speaker suggestions between now at October 21!  Take a look at today!

Anyone can submit, and you don’t have to put together a full session (though you can) – a question you’re pondering or an interesting voice you’d like to suggest speak is great too! 

What’s Convention about this year? Check out below!

CREATIVE LIFE. We’re heading to San Francisco in 2017—one of the most creative, vibrant, and fast-evolving places in the country today. San Francisco is a place of seismic change—pun intended—and also a place where communities fight to stay strongly rooted in rich cultural heritages amidst boom and change and a world that sometimes feels like it’s going crazy. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in a city in the middle of a tech boom that has sparked remarkable and startling reinvention, negotiation, and innovation.  

It is 49 square miles with a style, movement, and rhythm all its own—striving for peace and equity amidst waves, hills, fog, and everywhere—everywhere—an explosion of vibrant creative life. San Francisco is a place that reminds us that almost nothing is actually binary—that our world is constantly rising, falling, flowing, and twisting around us, and that we are all active, creative players in what is to come. It reminds us of the importance of holding on to who we are, being open to what lay before us, and caring for the health and wellness of ourselves, our communities, and our world.

In 2017, America will be in the midst of a new transition. We must celebrate what has come before, and prepare ourselves to be a part of—to lead—the great changes to come. Let’s come together to celebrate the creative life, and reflect on the great power that the arts have to give us strength, identity, hope, and direction.

Session ideas can address any of the following topics: Accessibility, Advocacy, Arts Education, Capacity, Community Development, Diversity, Access and Equity, Engagement, Evaluation, Fundraising, Grantmaking, Leadership, Private Sector Engagement, Public Art, Public Value, or Research.
As in previous years, we have created a set of loose themes that all of our programming will fall into.  This year, those themes are:
Ø  Engaging Equity
How do we learn and lead in pursuing equity inside and outside the arts?

The goal of this theme is to continue the field’s work to better understand, engage with, and lead efforts to tackle issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion both inside and outside our field. What are the prerequisites to being able to lead a full, vibrant creative life? What systems have to change? What cultural identities have to be preserved? How do we best support the interconnected individuals coming together to sustain a community’s cultural identity? How do the arts help us stand together, in partnership—while also celebrating and preserving the rich histories, heritages, and personal expressions that make a community vibrant?

Ø  Inspiring Activation
How can we support an activist and experimental spirit in the arts?
The goal of this theme is to explore the arts, artists, activism, experimentation and the role of support organizations and funders at that intersection. How are new generations of artist-activists fostered and supported? How can their potential for innovation, experimentation, and positive disruption be fed? What skills, programs, and services do community organizations, arts groups, and individuals need to support artists of all types in engaging in civic dialogue? How is civic engagement and social change shifting as society, technology, and community dynamics evolve?

Ø  Embracing Reinvention
How can we be proactive in moments of transformation?
The goal of this theme is to acknowledge that change can be challenging, or it can be glorious; it can be slow, or fast, or both; it can be seen coming from a long way off, or can be a total surprise. So how can we be ready to embrace evolution when it comes? How are we redefining the role and nature of our cities and towns, our different community contributors, and ourselves? How can we move forward while also acknowledging and learning from our legacies, lessons, and past? How can we be proactive, and long-sighted, and flexible both within ourselves and our organizations, and in our roles as stewards and servants to a field, a community, and the creative life of our citizens?

Ø  Celebrating Optimism
How can we raise up the creativity and hope within our communities?
The goal of this theme is to lean into the spirit of San Francisco and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s admonition to “Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” Amidst a lot of shift, sadness, and fear, the creative life continues to burn bright in new and amazing ways. How do we lean into the joyful, meaningful life of being a maker, and inspire that in others? How can we innovate to find and support the creative life in a new places—inside and outside the sector? How can we support heritage, reconnect to old values, inspire hope and joy? What are the success stories we want to tell—and the tools we want to share to proliferate those success stories throughout the country?

Ø  Building Skills
What are the primary skills needed for individuals to succeed in the arts today?
Every Convention session will have a core takeaway that you can use as soon as you get back to the office, but this set of sessions will showcase the core skills you’ll need in the arts sector of tomorrow. We’re looking for examples of future-oriented innovations in community/cross-sector engagement, staff-board relations, advocacy, education, marketing and fundraising, business, etc. This theme will center on what we need to support the healthy, vibrant, equitable setting necessary for the full creative life to be possible—whether that’s for employees, artists, partners, or community members.

Any questions, please contact Clay Lord at [email protected]. Thanks!

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