Professional Development

In this challenging and changing environment many of us seek new strategies to sustain our mission, tighten our belts, or even reinvent programs.

WAA’s professional development program addresses these challenges by offering educational programs taught by leaders in the field on subjects that range from building critical core knowledge to finding new approaches, techniques, and tactics. Through these workshops, forums, panels, speakers, publications, and mentoring, WAA seeks to strengthen your ability to fulfill your organization’s mission, accomplish goals, and advance your career.

Professional Development Institute (Pre-Conference Program)

Monday, August 27 | 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
To register: Fill out this form and return to

WAA's Professional Development Institute (PDI) offers tuition-based workshops and seminars using some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field as faculty. Courses ranging from three to eight hours of instruction are designed to offer practical information for immediate application. Topics in recent years include: Social Media Marketing, Doing the Deal, Advancing Dance Workshop, Winning Strategies in this Economy, Legal Challenges of Presenting & Touring Foreign Artists, and Understanding Arts Audience Segmentation Models.

New Colleagues Orientation

Monday, August 27 | 2:15 pm - 3:30 pm

Make immediate connections at the New Colleagues Orientation, a great resource for someone attending the WAA conference for the first time and for any attendee looking for guidance in navigating the week. Come learn from established WAA members and share with new conference delegates about how to set attainable goals, where to start, and how to maximize your conference experience.

Opening Plenary: Annual Awards Ceremony & Keynote Address

Monday, August 27 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Be sure to join us for WAA's Annual Awards Ceremony! Come be inspired by what your WAA member colleagues have accomplished as we acknowledge their commitment to serving the performing arts community. Awards are granted in the areas of mentoring, service, innovation, and leadership.

Each year WAA hosts a Keynote Address to kick off the conference. You won't want to miss out on the new and thought-provoking ideas presented by our special guest speaker, as you'll hear these ideas resurface in conversation for the rest of the week. Past guests include Alan Pierson, Mark O'Connor, Daniel Catán, Robert Egger, Sherman Alexie, Midori, Libby Appel, Terrance Blanchard, Jaron Lanier, and Shane Koyczan.

Meet the PAD International Delegates

Wednesday, August 29 | 4:45pm - 5:45pm

Interested in trends in international presenting? This session introduces the leaders, organizations, and programming of WAA’s 2018 Performing Arts Discovery (PAD) guests.  The purpose of the PAD program is to acquaint international presenters with U.S. performing artists and companies (and vice versa) thereby reducing barriers for American artists overseas. Now in its third year, Performing Arts Discovery is funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Tuesday, August 28 | 9:00am - 10:00am

These sessions are less formal and more discipline-based and issue-driven. Facilitated discussions are led by conference delegates themselves and often bring targeted questions to pose to those participants in order to learn from and with those attending

Speed Leads

Tuesday, August 28 | 10:35am - 11:35am

Take one part blind date, one part pitch session, one part niche-marketing, and two parts of your passion and what do you get? Speed Leads, WAA’s professional mixer. Whether you are throwing or receiving the pitch, it’s productive fun for the whole crew! Artist/managers rotate one at a time through tables seated with presenters, spending two minutes at each table. Make new connections and discover new artists and programs you might not otherwise have the chance or time to find! Twenty-five artists/projects x two minutes = one productive hour.

Presenter Pitch Sessions

Wednesday, August 29 | 4:45pm - 5:45pm

When presenters pitch, people listen. Whether you are a presenter wanting to know more about the work of your colleagues or an artist manager looking for prospective venues, the presenter pitch session is the place to be. Presenters will outline their season, a new project, or series. There’s no better way to get a quick take on presenting and programming around the West.

Workshops & Panels

Wednesday, August 29 | 9:00 am – 10:45 am

WAA's in-conference workshops and seminars, like the PDI on Monday, also use some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field as faculty except these are FREE! Popular workshops have included: Making Artistic Cents, Programming New Work – A Curator’s Guide to the Arts and Audiences, In Pursuit of Work/Life Balance, and Legal Challenges of Presenting & Touring Foreign Artists.

Private Consultations

Wednesday, August 29 | 4:45pm - 5:45pm

Each year a select group of grant-makers, consultants, and other professionals volunteer their time to hold one-on-one meetings with individual conference attendees.