Conference Season Wrap-up

Nextstage attended several performing arts conferences this summer. An alphabet soup of organizations from TCG, to SCUP, to NATEAC. Conferences are our chance to check the pulse of performing arts among the practitioners at Theater Communications Group (TCG), campus planners at Society of College and University Planners (SCUP), and architects, engineers, and other theater planners at the Quadrennial North American Theater Engineering and Architecture Conference (NATEAC).

Now that the name badges are hanging off the task lamp at my desk and the work that piled up is under control we can reflect back on what we learned at all these gatherings.

The non-profit professional theater universe is expanding and becoming more and more vital to our national debate over inclusion and unity. Now perhaps more than ever before the field is a voice to be reckoned with as fresh new voices find powerful ways to express our state of turmoil. Institutions are supporting them, and making homes to promote these critically important expressions. Of course, the conference was in Washington DC, maybe that had a bit to do with the theme – “Theatre Nation” ? Technology and digital media are becoming another tool in the artistic toolbox. Performance spaces will need to adapt to some of these changes, but mostly good intimate spaces continue to host powerful performances and experiences for audiences.

Universities, where the new fresh voices are trained are struggling to keep their aging buildings in good condition. Performance spaces are being renovated and replaced, but the challenge for many educational institutions is to balance the demands of rapidly emerging technologies with time-honored practice of drama, music, and dance.

Technology dominated the sessions at NATEAC, from how best to deliver complex systems in construction projects, to understanding the power and flexibility of video and streaming capability that the audience is coming to demand. Nothing stands still, and either can we.

So, onward to the next generation of performance spaces, virtual or real, new or repurposed. Nextstage is excited about all the possibilities!