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Tell us your ideas

Propose a Professional Development session, speaker, or topic

Professional Development is a core component of the Arts Midwest Conference and includes in-depth seminars, workshops, and discussions that offer professional and peer insight. We’re seeking input from attendees as we plan for Indianapolis this September, and we welcome all ideas—whether it’s a fully developed session, the name of someone who has inspired you, a skill that needs to be refreshed, or simply an issue of interest.

Propose a session Suggest a speaker


Ceci Dadisman leads “Email Marketing Makeover,” the most popular workshop at the 2017 Conference. Ceci is president of Cardinal + Company in Cleveland, Ohio, and is nationally recognized as a leader in digital and social media marketing. Photo by Terry Gilliam.

Sessions relevant to all attendees

Our conference is for all arts professionals who comprise the network necessary to bring performing arts experiences to communities throughout the Midwest, and one of ours goals for 2018 is that every session we offer will be relevant to anyone who attends the Conference. If your proposal leans more toward a specific segment of attendees (such as only artists or only presenters), please consider how to adjust the proposal to include all sides of the business of the performing arts touring industry.

A regional conference

As one of three regional performing arts conferences, our event is designed for presenting organizations located in all corners of the 15 states represented by Arts Midwest and Mid-America Arts Alliance. We of course welcome artists, managers, and agents from across the United States and around the world, and our programming does not shy away from topics with a national or international impact. Nonetheless, as a Conference with a regional scope, we prioritize opportunities to elevate voices and stories from the states in our region: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.


Participants engage with materials at their table during an in-depth seminar focused on data-driven strategies coming out of Creating Connection, a program of Arts Midwest. Photo by Terry Gilliam.

Being intentional about representation

These days, the climate is such that you can’t get away with presenting a panel or event with a blatant lack of representation. There’s even a Tumblr account called Congrats, you have an all male panel!. At Arts Midwest, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, and we’re being proactive about diversity, equity, and inclusion — not because we’re afraid of getting called out, but because it’s necessary for our field to move forward.

We remain committed to making our Conference a platform for many perspectives and identities. For us, this means including perspectives from all corners of our region and all sides of our business (presenters, artists managers, artists, etc.), but it also means intentionally seeking out opportunities to lift up voices from traditionally underrepresented communities, including but not limited to gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, age, and religion.


Racial equity trainer Nayantara Sen leads a conversation at the 2017 Conference during a session presented in partnership with Women of Color in the Arts. Photo by Terry Gilliam.

Continuing the conversation from year to year

We try to keep our programming fresh each year, but there are a handful of topics that we’ve committed to chipping away at over several years. For example:

  • digital marketing + social media
  • diversity, equity, inclusion
  • youth/family programming
  • curatorial practices
  • block booking and collaborating regionally
  • breaking into the marketplace as an artist

Dig deep with your proposals about these topics. Propose a session that looks closely at a specific part of the issue/challenge or consider a new or nontraditional format that might spur new ideas or fresh perspectives (especially if it’s a topic that you see at lots of other conferences).

“I like to be challenged and these sessions gave me a lot to think about.” – 2017 Evaluation response

New ideas and new possibilities

There are several topics that the Professional Development Committee has identified to address more directly at future conferences. Even if we haven’t offered sessions in the past few years about these topics, they’ve come up in our recent conversations or in past proposals.

We welcome any and all new suggestions for topics, but we’d also love to hear how you might approach one of these topics at our conference:

  • arts in rural communities
  • indigenous artists
  • futurism / new technologies
  • the concept of failure
  • new operating models
  • social justice, activism, and organizing

Finding the right format

Not every session works best as a panel, roundtable, or workshop. Each year we like to try some new ways of convening a group of attendees around a particular topic during the Conference. We’ve added debates and long tables, and we’ve tried a handful of different versions of the PechaKucha format. We’ve even hosted sessions that involve attendees getting out of the meeting room and explore the interior and exterior of the entire building!

If you’re submitting a proposal, tell us what format for the session will work best — even if it’s something we haven’t done before.

Propose a session Suggest a speaker


A session in 2017 focused on access and inclusion when it comes to our physical spaces and venues. Participants started in a traditional meeting room but then moved throughout (and outside of) the Conference hotel. Photo by Terry Gilliam.