How is the Arts Midwest Conference responding to COVID-19?
For this year’s conference, Arts Midwest and Western Arts Alliance are joining our teams, resources, imaginations, and conferences to help gather, heal, and advance our field with an innovative digital event. The joint 2020 conference will include virtual experiences of our core programs: exhibits, showcasing, workshops, peer exchange, pitch sessions, and networking. But we’ll also be leaning into the hard stuff. Conference themes will explore equity, systemic change and navigating the pandemic. Tight budget? Given the financial challenges, we’ll offer discounted and flexible pricing.
Arts Midwest and Western Arts Alliance will be releasing more details about the joint conference and how to register in the coming weeks. For now, please save the dates and plan to join us for an inspiring look forward. Optional pre-conference programs will take place October 1 & 2, with the main conference taking place October 6-9, 2020
Is the Conference right for me?
- Performing artists/ensembles, artist managers, agents, and producers who seek bookings for touring at the state, regional, and/or national level are encouraged to attend.
- Presenting organizations — those who book artists to perform at their venue(s) — will have multiple opportunities to discover performing artists from all disciplines. The conference offers networking and business opportunities for organizations of all sizes – including volunteer operations and major performing arts centers.
- Service organizations can connect with constituents, present information on programs and funding opportunities, and conduct organizational business. Some service organizations also attend so they can promote touring artists from their service area.
What’s the Marketplace?
The “Marketplace” — the Conference exhibit hall — is where presenters, artists, managers, and agents meet and explore booking options together. More than 4,000 artists and ensembles are represented by organizations exhibiting in the Marketplace each year. Marketplace hours are the prime-time business discussion opportunities; exhibitors are expected to be in their exhibit spaces, ready to meet and talk with presenters.
Can college students attend the Conference?
Yes. Undergraduate- and graduate-level students are welcome to attend. Take advantage of our special student discount registration rate (requires valid student ID and volunteer commitment). Benefits of attending include:
- Opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge about the field at professional development sessions
- Access to new and seasoned talent in the Marketplace exhibit hall and in live performances
What should I do before I leave for the Conference?
- Visit our website and watch your email to stay current on events and to plan your time onsite.
- Once you’ve registered, plan your meetings with our contact lists and organization profiles (beginning in August).
- Download the Guidebook app for your smartphone to access program materials and other great onsite information (coming this summer).
For performing artists/ensembles, artist managers or agents, or producers
What should I consider providing in promotional materials for the Conference?
As business becomes more digital, you may wish to limit the number of printed materials you bring to the Conference. Business cards are still a key item to have with you at all times. Other things to consider:
- Provide scaled-down printed brochures and small takeaways.
- Materials should be interesting to look at and easy to navigate
- Digital materials should include photos; press clippings; tech riders; brochures; previous bookings; information on master classes, workshops, and other residency activities you or your artists offer (if applicable)
How do I prepare for meeting with presenters?
- Use the attendee contact info and presenter profiles to research presenters coming to the Conference. Keep in mind that the organization profiles are available online only, so you may want to print the information.
- Take notes as you research presenters – who they are booking, what their seasons are like, who their audiences are, the technical specs and capabilities of their facilities, what artist fee ranges they are looking for, when they make their booking decisions, and what their missions are.
- Bring your business cards and an up-to-date schedule so you can talk about openings in your or your artists’ schedules.
- Practice your “elevator speech” before you get onsite so you can concisely describe what you/your artists do in one minute or less.
- Be prepared to email or mail your press materials, recordings, etc. to presenters post-Conference.
How do I prepare for meeting with artists, managers, and agents?
- Use the attendee contact info and exhibitor profiles to research artists, managers, and agents coming to the Conference. Keep in mind that the profiles are available online only, so you may want to print the information or take notes on artists that interest you.
- Know specifics about your venue: specs, audience, budget, housing for artists, and interest in residency activities. Bring promotional packets describing your venue and season, and technical capabilities that you can hand out and place on the presenter information tables on-site.
- Know your audience and your programming goals for your season.
- Practice your “elevator speech” before you get onsite so you can concisely describe what your organization presents and who you serve in one minute or less.
- Bring your business cards and an up-to-date schedule so you can talk about booking your current and upcoming seasons.
What technical information should I know about my venue?
- Width, depth, height, and type of stage, apron, and pit
- Wing space
- Light and sound system equipment and capabilities
- Curtain color and number of legs and borders
- Layout and number of seats in hall
- Loading dock location, size, accessibility
- Availability and location of bus and truck parking
- Number of dressing rooms and showers
- Marley dance floor availability
Professional development & meetings
How can I submit an idea for a professional development session topic or speaker?
Please download the session proposal form and email it to us once completed. Proposals received by February will be considered for that year’s Conference; those received later in the year will be reviewed and considered for the following Conference.
What’s a presenter network and how can I learn more about becoming a member?
State and regional presenter networks are membership organizations for presenters that offer opportunities for collaboration, block-booking, networking, and information-sharing and learning. Connect to your state or regional consortium.
What is proper etiquette for doing business in the Marketplace?
- Business conversations can only happen within an exhibit space. Be sure to step out of the aisle and into the exhibit space when you stop to talk to someone.
- When a colleague is in a conversation, do not interrupt. Try stopping by later or schedule a time to meet with them.
- Contracts cannot be signed in the Marketplace.
- Learn more by reading the Conference General Policies.
When can I access the Marketplace and my exhibit space during the Conference?
- Load-in happens on the first day of the Conference; load-out happens after the final session in the Marketplace ends. (View the schedule.) Loading in or out outside of the published times is strongly discouraged and must be cleared ahead of time with Conference staff.
- Exhibitors will be allowed to enter the Marketplace 15 minutes before the Marketplace opens to all attendees.
- Be sure to take all items that you may need when the Marketplace closes (business cards, promo kits, your computer, etc.) – as you won’t be able to return to your exhibit when the Marketplace is closed.
- Security will be provided in the Marketplace during closed hours, but we recommend taking valuable personal items with you when you leave.
I’m exhibiting at the Conference for the first time. What should I expect?
- There are hundreds of organizations in the Marketplace representing thousands of artists, and it may take a couple of years to build relationships with presenters at the Conference. Don’t be discouraged if traffic in your space is slow – make connections and set up meetings ahead of time to maximize your contacts on-site, and follow up afterwards to build and maintain relationships.
- Do not expect presenters to return your calls or be immediately available after the Conference – they receive dozens, sometimes hundreds, of calls a day or week from other artists, managers, and agents.
- Many attendees have been coming to our Conference for years and are willing to share their experiences and insider tips. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take good notes.
How do I know if I’m ready to showcase?
Producing a successful independent showcase requires significant time, planning, and financial resources. Some factors to consider:
- Do you have a sufficient budget to cover purchasing exhibit space at the Conference, plus travel, lodging, shipping, technical assistance, venue rental, advertising, hospitality, and promotional costs?
- Is the work ready to accept bookings to tour?
- Are your promotional materials ready to sell your production to presenters?
Is it worth coming to the Conference if I or my artists won’t be performing?
Yes. Only about one-third of our exhibitors schedule performances during the Conference. The primary reason they attend is to make valuable, in-person connections with fellow exhibitors and presenters.
Connecting & networking
How can I get in the loop for Conference communications and info?
- If you’ve attended the Conference in the last few years, you’re already on our email list. Check your spam folders if you’re not getting our emails.
- If you haven’t attended in the last few years, or your email address has changed, sign up for our email list.
How can I get a list of attendees if I’m not attending the Conference?
The list of registered organizations will be available prior to the conference.
- Attendee names and contact information are a benefit for Conference registrants only.
- We don’t sell or trade attendee lists or contact info
- Arts Midwest does not maintain a list of presenting organizations in our region, nor do we maintain an artist roster of any kind.