NEW YORK CITY: After 13 years of running its national conference as an annual event, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the publisher of American Theatre, has announced that the organization will return to a biennial conference schedule. In the near term, that means there will be no TCG National Conference in June 2023, and that the next National Conference will be in 2024. Over the longer term, TCG has said that it plans to gather “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.”
TCG convened its first National Conference in 1976, and ran it biennially, first on college campuses and then in cities across the country, before becoming an annual event beginning in 2006. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the conference went virtual, then sat out 2021 and returned in 2022 with TCG’s first hybrid in-person-and-vitual National Conference in Pittsburgh and online.
In an email to members TCG wrote, “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 statement continued. “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.”
The statement concluded: “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.” TCG invites feedback on this change here. The location of the 2024 conference city is expected to be announced in early 2023.
In the meantime, TCG’s programming will build on the three tracks of our 2022 National Conference: Redefining our Art, Transforming our Practices, and Tending to our People. Upcoming programming includes:
(Re)Filling Our Houses: A TCG Virtual LAB on Bringing Audiences Back
On Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. ET, TCG will convene a virtual lab to address the pressing challenge of the slow and inconsistent return of audiences.
Town Hall on the Salary Survey & Workforce Challenges
In February 2023, TCG will share the findings from Salary Survey 2022 to catalyze conversations about hiring, compensation, and staff wellness.
Theatre for Activism: Rest Up, Charge Up, Rise Up
In spring 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 TCG’s recent Governance at the Crossroads: A Strategic Retreat, the org will relaunch the Governing Boards Survey to continue our focus on this critical aspect of our theatre ecology.
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