In more than a year of being apart, artists helped us connect with each other and our deepest selves. As we navigate reopening and imagining the future, how are we investing in artists as drivers of creativity, social change, connectivity and economic growth?
Join us for the Arts Midwest Conference’s Opening Keynote Exploration: Artists as Community Builders & Changemakers featuring Midwest arts leaders Sarah Bellamy and Ken-Matt Martin.
L to R: Ken-Matt Martin and Sarah Bellamy (Photo Credit: Ann Marsden Photography).
This year we’re using new terms to give you an idea of the different ways we’ll engage online:
- Conversations are facilitated, interactive discussions with plenty of opportunities for attendee participation and peer-to-peer learning.
- Workshops are moderated panel discussions featuring peer leaders and field experts.
- Explorations are keynote discussions with field leaders exploring the most pressing questions for our field today and into the future.
For a full list of Workshops, Conversations, and Explorations, visit our programming page.
Meet our Opening Exploration Speakers
Penumbra Theatre Company
Sarah Bellamy is Artistic Director for Penumbra Theatre Company, having worked with the company for over twenty years. During that time, she has led teams to design several programs that engage patrons in critical thinking, dialogue, and action around issues of race and social justice. Select programs include Penumbra’s RACE Workshop, Summer Institute, a leadership development program for teens to practice art for social change, and the Racial Healing Artist Institute. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Ms. Bellamy also holds an M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and served as Visiting Professor of Theatre and Culture at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Bellamy is a leading facilitator around issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion and has led coalition building efforts to address inequities in philanthropy and theatre. Her lectures on the power of race and representation have been presented across the country illuminating the ways in which images, narratives, and media influence perception and ultimately shape lives. She has been awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, served on the Board of Directors for Theatre Communications Group, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Jerome Foundation. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband and two small children. https://penumbratheatre.org/
Victory Gardens Theater
Ken-Matt Martin was recently appointed as the new Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. He is the co-founder of Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, Iowa where he served as Executive Director from 2015 until 2018. From 2019 to 2021 Martin served as the Associate Producer of Goodman Theatre. Prior to his time at Goodman he served as Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival from 2018-2019. He received two undergraduate degrees from Drake University and his M.F.A. in Directing from Brown University. In addition to his producing credits Martin has numerous directing/acting credits and more info can be found at http://www.kenmatt.com
Plus: Check out newly-added Conversations
Join artists, agents, and presenters for a generative conversation on touring outside typical performing arts venues. How do you form lasting community partnerships, what are strategies for community engagement, and what is the value in bringing art directly to the audience outside of a theater setting? In this interactive Conversation, you’ll participate in small breakout room discussions, and learn how your colleagues are building audiences and navigating the evolving touring landscape.
Facilitated by Amy Gosz (Fox Cities Performing Arts Center), Miah Michaelsen (Indiana Arts Commission), Cuauhtémoc Perand (Doctoral Candidate, University of California at Riverside), Mary Anne Quiroz (Indigenous Roots), Chris Westhoff (Mad River Theater Works).
Join marketing professionals for an interactive conversation on how venues are connecting with audiences and welcoming them back. How do you frame messaging and build trust in a time of uncertainty? What are tips for promoting virtual alongside in-person events? Learn how your colleagues are reaching new audiences and staying connected with those who may not be ready to return to in person.
Facilitated by Jeff Larson (Sheldon Theatre), Mark Travis Rivera (Nika White Consulting), Jennifer Simpson (Wavelength Marketing).
The pandemic’s upheaval forced many of us to stretch, experiment and change. As income sources for artists
dried up, events shut down and the topic of racial disparities rose to the forefront, a new initiative took shape in an effort to build a more dynamic and equitable creative economy. The Iowa Creative Incubator champions projects by five artists that prioritize social engagement and their creative vision. In this Conversation, attendees will explore the process of building an incubator to support their local creative ecosystems. They will also learn about specific aspects of the Iowa Creative Incubator and the five 2020-21 fellows and their projects.
Facilitated by Beau Kenyon (The Oakley Collective for Arts + Research), Siobhan Spain (Mainframe Studios), Jill Wells (Jill Wells Art + A.X.A Mentorship Program).
In an increasingly collaborative cultural environment, how can arts workers develop inter-organizational connections that promote equitable access to relevant educational resources? Building meaningful partnerships with librarians at public or academic libraries presents an opportunity to cultivate a community of engaged learners, and it provides an effective way for library staff to highlight the breadth and depth of their free resources and to connect with new audiences. These creative connections extend staff capacity while also providing added value for event attendees and encouraging audiences to dig deeper by exploring their local library. From static deliverables like blog posts, playlists, and exhibits to dynamic programming like physical and virtual pop-up libraries and panel discussions with visiting artists, librarians can work collaboratively with performing arts administrators to create outreach content that showcases existing library collections, services, and expertise; promotes community engagement with artistic subject matter; and sparks curiosity in the minds of audiences.
Facilitated by Kat Keljik (Northrup Auditorium), Jessica Abbazio (School of Music, University of Minnesota).
Performing Arts Readiness (PAR), an arts service provider supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, helps arts organizations learn how to protect their assets, sustain operations, and be prepared for emergencies. This interactive presentation will address how well your arts organization responded and survived the pandemic, or possibly even thrived amidst a perfect storm of concerns, to predict how successful you will be reopening and building back better. Learn about resources available to your organization for aligning conflicting priorities around staff, community, and organizational health issues; for rebuilding your financial picture based on different scenarios; and for staying focused on your mission and values while keeping stakeholders informed and engaged, to pave the way to your full recovery. This session will specifically focus on issues for small and rural arts organizations.
Facilitated by Tom Clareson (Performing Arts Readiness), Carol Foster (International Association of Blacks in Dance), and Janet Newcomb (National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness & Emergency Response).
As artist agents and managers, we often remain invisible to the public at large, advocacy groups, and governments, yet we hold a key role in the arts sector. We work closely with a diverse selection of cultures from around the world, working to elevate their artistry and heritage in the hearts and minds of audiences. Traditionally, we work behind the scenes, focusing on bringing these artists to the fore, yet in doing so, we realized since the pandemic that our voices are perhaps too silent. Learn how several agents from across Europe and the United States came together during the past year to re-examine their solitary roles in the industry, act collectively, and provide new opportunities for funding sources and potential new work for their artists under the auspices of this new independent agent working model.
Facilitated by Danielle Devlin (Canis Major Music), Araceli Tzigane Sánchez (Mapamundi Música), Juliana Voloz (J-V Promotions).