Updates on TCG's National Conference

By Teresa Eyring posted 12-06-2022 17:31


Today we’re announcing the next phase in the evolution of TCG’s National Conference, and of our convenings more generally. We are returning to a biennial National Conference schedule, with our next National Conference in 2024. Over the next year, we’ll be gathering feedback and insight from both within and beyond the theatre field to reimagine how our convenings can best advance our new mission, to lead for a just and thriving theatre ecology. 

In 1976, TCG convened its first ever National Conference. For the first few decades, the National Conference was biennial, held first on college campuses and then in cities across the country. In 2006, the National Conference became an annual event, and in 2020, we went virtual in response to the pandemic. In 2022, we held our first-ever hybrid National Conference, gathering in Pittsburgh, PA and online. 

Why are we returning to a biennial National Conference? First, over the past few years we’ve experienced more rapid and radical changes than our field has seen in generations. From the pandemic to the uprisings for justice to the climate crisis, TCG has needed to be nimbler and more responsive than ever. We’ve hosted rapid response webinars on COVID-19, accessing federal relief, collective bargaining, and more. We’re also hosting regular Theatre Leader Connectedness (TLC) calls based on professional affinity. By moving to a biennial National Conference, we’ll have the capacity to continue responding to the pain points and opportunities of the moment with convenings throughout the year.

Moving to a biennial National Conference will also allow us to strengthen the impact of the Conference itself. The capacity challenges of hosting a Conference every year means our staff rarely has the time needed to rest, reflect, and innovate. This leads to truncated planning processes for our presenters and partners, which can often be harmful and doesn’t always foster our best work. This is especially true for hybrid Conferences, which significantly increase accessibility but require us to essentially plan two conferences simultaneously. The additional time will also deepen the critical partnership with our host committee, and will help reduce the carbon footprint of the National Conference, which, with all of the air travel involved, is significant. 

For those who have marked their calendars every June for the National Conference, thank you for your time and trust. The relationships that are forged and nurtured at the Conference are not going away. We need them more than ever. We hope you’ll join us over the next year in envisioning how all of TCG’s convenings can evolve to be even stronger. To help us in that process, please share your feedback here. We expect to announce our 2024 conference city in early 2023.

In the coming year, our programming will build on the three tracks of our 2022 National Conference: Redefining our Art, Transforming our Practices, and Tending to our People. Here are just a few of the exciting things we’ve got planned:

(Re)Filling Our Houses: A TCG Virtual LAB on Bringing Audiences Back

On December 8, 3pm ET, TCG we’ll convene a virtual LAB to address the pressing challenge of the slow and inconsistent return of audiences. We’ll present analysis on a range of audience-based case studies and research, hear stories from those thinking outside the (black)box, and hone in on areas where we need to dig deeper together. This LAB will shape the formation of virtual working groups on audiences to launch in 2023.

Town Hall on the Salary Survey & Workforce Challenges

In February of 2023, TCG will share the findings from the 2022 Salary Survey to catalyze conversations about hiring, compensation, and staff wellness. This Town Hall will build on the popular LAB on labor justice and workforce challenges at the 2022 National Conference. 

Theatre for Activism: REST UP, CHARGE UP, RISE UP

In spring of 2023, TCG will launch Theatre for Activism, a three-part series of gatherings with the themes Rest Up, Charge Up, and Rise Up. This series will prioritize BIPOC, TGNC, and disabled theatre workers whose activism is at the core of their practice, connecting them with the care, resources, and relationships they need to strengthen their work. 

Governing Boards Survey: Governance at the Crossroads

Building on the success of our recent Governance at the Crossroads: A Strategic Retreat, we’ll relaunch the Governing Boards Survey to continue our focus on this critical aspect of our theatre ecology. The survey will provide a fresh look at how governance policies are evolving to meet the challenges and opportunities of our current moment. 

Through it all, we’ll continue longstanding services such as bi-partisan federal arts advocacy, American Theatre magazine, Climate Action Monthly Meetings, grantmaking and professional development, the Fiscal Survey, the Salary Survey, and global cultural exchange, including World Theatre Day. We know that theatres are facing unprecedented challenges, and we believe that this shift will allow us to fully respond to those challenges together.