Art News

Americans for the Arts Will Bring Annual Convention to Denver in 2018

A scene from the Americans for the Arts 2017 onvention.
A scene from the Americans for the Arts 2017 onvention. Sylvain Gabourey
Arts advocacy nonprofit Americans for the Arts will hold its annual convention in Denver next year, further cementing the city's status as an arts hub. Approximately 1,000 attendees will gather at the Hyatt Regency from June 15 through June 17 to learn about advancing the arts on national policy stages as well as in local communities.

According to Clay Lord, vice president of Local Arts Advancement, who discussed the upcoming conference at a breakfast meeting of Americans for the Arts members on July 25, the event aims to tap into the Denver arts scene to "balance simultaneously the national issues of the day with the local power" of the host city. Organizers anticipate that around 40 percent of convention-goers will be local arts administrators, and at least one of the three keynote speakers will hail from Colorado; they're also looking for local programming and performance ideas for 35 breakout sessions. At the breakfast at the McNichols Building, whiteboards sat atop easels, ready for attendees to scrawl ideas on them (starting in August, you can also submit suggestions for the Americans for the Arts convention here).

Already planned for next June: three pre-conferences on June 14 and 15 (topics include public art and equitable arts investment), the unveiling of new research on the impact of the arts, an opening plenary session and evening receptions. In a nod to the Colorado health industry, at least four of the smaller sessions will focus on the intersection of arts, well-being and healing. The current theme for the convention, "New Visions," also pays tribute to the "pioneering history" and "broad expanses" of Colorado, Clay said.

click to enlarge Americans for the Arts held its last convention in San Francisco. - SYLVAIN GABOUREY
Americans for the Arts held its last convention in San Francisco.
Sylvain Gabourey
The influx of people and activity over the five-day span of the convention and pre-conference events will generate an estimated $1 to 1.2 million in Denver, according to Lord. But while the economic impact of the arts is strong, the group also knows that many artists cannot afford to attend. To that end, Americans for the Arts offers $25,000 in financial assistance to make the convention accessible each year, and partnerships with other organizations help expand the scholarship pool.

To learn more about the convention, visit the New Visions website after it officially launches in late January; scholarship applications will be open until March.

In the meantime, Americans for the Arts members have their hands full on Capitol Hill, where they're fighting for the National Endowment for the Arts, which the Trump administration's current budget seeks to defund; the group has brought six artists from across the country to Washington, D.C., to meet with their representatives. As Lord notes, "There's a real need to understand the role arts and culture can play in our somewhat troubled waters."
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Lila Thulin recently graduated from Stanford University, where she earned a Human Biology degree with a minor in Creative Writing (she also learned to bike no-handed). She’s an aficionado of libraries, bagels and art in all forms; she covers the latter as a Westword intern.
Contact: Lila Thulin