Home Programs Arts Midwest Conference 2020 Conference In Review

2020 Conference In Review

In response to the pandemic, Arts Midwest and Western Arts Alliance (WAA) combined teams, resources, and imaginations to create an innovative four-day virtual event for the performing arts field. On October 6-9, the Arts Midwest + WAA 2020 Conference brought together over 1,800 performing arts professionals to hear from thought leaders, gather new ideas, connect with colleagues, and map a way forward.

Our Questions

This year’s Conference demanded a different approach to tackle the questions on all our minds:

  • How do we move forward amidst a pandemic?
  • How can we work together to combat systemic racism in our organizations and communities?
  • How do we want the future of the performing arts to look?

Daily Themes

Each day of the Conference centered a specific theme that shaped the day’s professional development programming. Day 1: Invitation–Coming Together Again & Anew welcomed attendees to process the last eight months and share what it means to be performing arts professionals in today’s world. Day 2: Motivation–Calls for Change addressed several of the challenges facing the field. Day 3: Inspiration–Response & Innovation focused on new partnerships and collaborations within the virtual landscape. Day 4: Reimagination–Building a New Future Together invited attendees to envision the future of the field and to reinvest in our collective purpose.

By the Numbers


  • 1,824 individuals (346 Artists, 459 Agents + Managers, 671 Presenters, 348 Administrators + Creatives)
  • 54 states and U.S. territories and 22 countries represented


  • 64 professional development sessions
  • 140 speakers
  • 114 panel-selected & independent showcase performances

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