Workshops & Panels

The Western Arts Alliance Annual Conference presents the latest in performing arts trends, strategy, and research to enhance and accelerate your professional growth. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to collaborate with arts leaders and your peers with WAA's in-conference program of workshops and panels. Open to registered attendees only. 

All sessions take place 9:00 - 10:45 am, Wednesday, August 29 at the Bellagio. 

Pocket Commissions: Alternative Models to Commissioning for Small to Mid Sized Organizations
Room: Donatello 3

Commissioning new work is not limited to organizations with large budgets. We'll explore creative and high impact ways that organizations can support artists, particularly emerging and mid-career artists, in the creation and development of new works. Learn ways that presenters, artists, and agents have worked together to provide greater access to a wide range of resources to commission new works. Walk away with practical ways to begin or deepen your organization's role in development new works.


Christopher Morgan, Executive Artistic Director | Dance Place
Dani Fecko, Founder & President | Fascinator Management
David Palmer, General Manager | Soka University 
Krys Holmes, Executive Director | The Myrna Loy Center 
Moderated by Heena Patel | MELA Arts Connect 

Beyond the Ticket: Engaging & Retaining Audiences with Mobile Apps
Room: Donatello 2

Session Description:
How do you keep audiences coming back? With U.S. adults spending an average of 276 minutes every day on mobile apps, are you missing a key component for audience engagement and retention? 

Join us for a closer look at mobile apps and the performing arts. We'll explore how arts organizations use their apps to actively communicate with patrons, enhance the audience experience, and keep them engaged between performances. 

In this session, we’ll answer 5 key questions: 

  • Why are mobile apps vital for connecting with patrons of all ages? 
  • How can apps work in tandem with your website, email, and social media to pack a more powerful marketing punch? 
  • What are the most frequently used features on performing arts apps? 
  • How can arts organizations leverage those features to engage audiences before, during, and after events? 
  • How are arts organizations able to add mobile apps to their marketing plans without blowing their budgets?

Relevance to the Field
After just over 10 years since the launch of the iPhone, we now live in a mobile-first culture.

  • In 2016, mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop internet traffic worldwide.
  • In 2018, Google is switching to Mobile-First Indexing for internet search results. 
  • The majority of daily users across all social media platforms access their accounts via mobile devices.
  • US adults spend an average of 5 hours per day using mobile devices - with 92% of that time spent using apps rather than mobile websites. (Flurry Analytics, 2017)

For many years, there has been a false dichotomy debated in the field -- should we build a responsive website or create a mobile app? These communication channels are not oppositional. In fact, they're complementary -- two tools in a larger ecosystem of mobile communications.

Given the changes in our communication behaviors, it's incredibly important for artists and arts organizations to be aware of the tools available to them. We all know how our colleagues use websites, email, and social media to connect with audiences. But most of us do not know how to use mobile apps to engage and retain audiences. It’s time for that to change.

Led by David Dombrosky, Chief Marketing Officer | InstantEncore

Embodied Awareness: Another Look at Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
Room: Donatello 1 

Often, the largest marketing asset that any organization has is its physical space: reflecting our mission and vision, engaging audiences, and creating a sense of belonging. Yet, physical space is an overlooked resource for deeper messaging around notions of access, inclusion and diversity. And, without our attention, our spaces can inadvertently send negative messages to our patrons that run counter to our goals. Moving well beyond ADA compliance, learn how space can serve multiple diversities (without requiring a huge financial investment)! Gain practical ideas for increasing diversity, access and inclusion so that you can effect major change in your organization.

In “Embodied Awareness” you will: 1. Activate kinesthetic awareness in order to expand your understanding of the intellectual, psychological and physical reactions to space. 2. Be provided with an audit tool. 3. Learn concrete, affordable ideas for transforming your physical facility into active extensions of your brand.

Led by Madison Cario | Director, Office of the Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Crisis Communications
Room: DaVinci 2

Recent acts of violence and natural disasters around the world have heightened security sensitivity, leading major institutions and venues to reexamine their emergency response plans and how they communicate with the public about safety issues.

This session will explore how your organization can develop a plan for effectively managing communications in the event of an accident, natural disaster, or other public safety emergency.  The presenters will address how to create a nimble crisis communications plan to facilitate quick decision-making and communications during and following an emergency. 

Participants will leave with a better understanding of the necessary elements of a robust crisis communications plan, best practices, and technologies designed for communications in times of a crisis.

Led by 
Steven Sugerman, President | Sugerman Communications Group
Malina Brown, Senior Associate | Sugerman Communications Group
Introduction by Ally Haynes-Hamblen, Director | City of Las Vegas, Office of Cultural Affairs

Making Artistic Cents: Mission and Money
Room: Michelangelo 

Together we will explore how conversations between Presenters, Artists and Agents/Managers can culminate in “out of the box” work being presented that meets a Presenter’s mission and is successful for the Artist and Agent/Manager. Whether we’re talking about a performance, a residency, or a combination of the two, we’ll hear from Artists, Agents/Managers, and Presenters about specific ways that they have used good communication as a tool to unite mission and budget. 

This can apply to new and groundbreaking work, ideas that challenge current norms, music and dance from other cultures, or anything that may not be an obvious “easy sell.” 

Intended take-aways:

  • Artists and Agents/Managers: learn effective ways to help Presenters meet parts of the Presenter’s mission through the artist’s work (including performance and/or residency work)
  • Presenters: learn effective ways of collaborating with an Artist well in advance of a performance and/or residency
  • Artists, Agents/Managers and Presenters: learn effective ways to communicate with each other to help turn an “out of the box” booking into a successful event that both meets mission and stays within budget

Presented by NAPAMA

Brenda Wong Aoki, Artist
Renae Williams Niles, Chief Operating Officer |Kaufman School of Dance, USC
Ben Cohen, Vice President of Booking and Tour Development | Cadenza Artists
Ronna Kalish, Director | New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series
Moderated by Karen Fischer, President | Pasifika Artists Network