From the Executive Director

Ripped from the Headlines!
Friday, September 13, 2013

This year’s conference includes two pre-conference workshops, an opening keynote with Terence Blanchard, five workshops, five roundtables and a plenary. As we do every year, the WAA Board, Staff, Conference, and Professional Development committees work hard to create sessions that are timely, relevant, and informative. This year is no exception. In fact, several programs seem “ripped from the headlines.” 

HEADLINE: Last week, Grand Performances was forced to cancel a performance because of a bomb scare. The police took control of California Plaza, the bomb squad was called in, and the emergency ended without incident. The “bomb” turned out to be a package of Dr. Pepper bottles deliberately wrapped to arouse suspicion, but it was a terrifying and costly experience. As the investigation continues, Grand Performances is going through a complete review of its security and response procedures. 

WAA TOPIC: Venue Safety & Security: This session brings together first responders, and emergency preparedness experts to share strategies and solutions for your planning, training, and operations. Michael Alexander will join the panel to bring his first-hand experience to this important session. 

HEADLINE: 2013 has been called the year of the gay athlete. Several months ago, a new nonprofit hall of fame for gay and lesbian athletes was announced in Chicago. “We’re not just going to honor gay athletes, but other athletes who helped those gay athletes along and provided a safe haven,” said Bill Gubrud, executive director and board chairman of the nonprofit, in the Chicago Tribune. 

WAA TOPIC: At the Opening Keynote, Jazz great Terence Blanchard will discuss his own arts advocacy and activism (see “The Artist Activist”) and his new opera Champion, the story of Emile Griffith, a gay boxer in the 60s. In his autobiography, Griffith said “I killed a man and the world forgave me, yet I loved a man and the world has still never forgiven me.” 

HEADLINE: “Demonstrations Across the Country Commemorate Trayvon Martin,” New York Times, July 20, 2013. In the article Martin Luther King III says “This is a tone-setting time that at least sets up a framework for dialogue that has not existed in a long time.” 

WAA TOPIC: Bridging Difference: The Arts & Civic Engagement, WAA’s Thursday plenary, examines how arts organizations and civic engagement can use the transformation power of the arts to open dialogue and bridge the faults that divide our country. Ken Foster, director of the new Arts Leadership program at USC’s Thornton School of Music leads this authoritative panel with Michael John Garcés, Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company, Liesel Reinhardt, Co-founder of Speak Theater Arts and director of it gets better, and Katherine Bonalos, Assistant Director of Community Partnerships for Active Arts. 

WAA’s 2013 Professional Development program also includes a number of hot topics moving the field forward: shifting from subscriptions to single ticket sales, Mexican and Mexican-American regional music, doing business with China, time management, and the nuts and bolts of tech riders. For complete descriptions, check out the Professional Development page. 

See you in Los Angeles!


Tim Wilson