Americans for the Arts to Host Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference Virtually

Americans for the Arts will host its first-ever virtual Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference, which will take place June 23-25, 2020. Through more than 40 sessions, participants will gather to better understand how the arts field is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, how the field can move toward recovery, and the role of the arts in healing during and after crises.  

The opening day of Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference will focus on the crucial role of arts and culture, how the arts can survive and thrive during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery, and the steps needed to address the collective stress and trauma of these times. On the second day, the convening will explore the intersection between public art and civic design and how this work is being addressed in communities across the United States as we work to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the public art field can be a part of the movement for racial justice. The closing day will focus on bringing creativity to bear in helping the country rebuild itself, and will feature sessions about the role that arts and culture will play in the country’s recovery, including discussions around collective action, community transformation, voter engagement, advocacy, policymaking, and cross-sector collaboration.

Keynotes and Featured Speakers
  • Tuesday, June 23, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET: Acclaimed violinist, social justice activist, 2018 MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta will deliver the 33rd Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy live with a talk titled “The Next Response.” The lecture is free. Gupta will speak about forgiveness and how in this moment we gather in the common purpose of artists and citizens of this world to create our next responses together. Nancy Pelosi, 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, will deliver a pre-recorded introduction. At 12:45 p.m. attendees will have an opportunity to engage with Gupta in a special session.
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2:45 p.m. – 3:10 p.m. ET: Helen Shaw, theater critic for New York Magazine and Vulture, will explore opportunities for innovation and revitalization for theatre makers and other artists inside this moment of challenge, and what relevant and electrifying art will look like on the other side.
  • Wednesday, June 24, 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET: Kicking off the Public Art & Civic Design Conference, Paul M. Faber, co-founder of Monument Lab will report on the urgency and purpose for the field of public art, and share stories and reflections on recent monument takedowns around the world and action items for the next generation of monuments. Later that afternoon from 3:15 – 3:45 p.m. ET join Public Art Network Leadership Awardee Rick Lowe as he discusses his work in communities.
  • Thursday, June 25, 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET: Author, commentator, and economic and social justice scholar Heather McGhee will talk about her research for her new book, The Sum of Us (to be released in 2021), which looks at the racist underpinnings of our economic and social systems and figures out how to shift them towards equity. In her keynote she will talk about how the broader economic systems are mirrored in—and sometimes magnified—within the creative economy. She will frame out where we are, highlighting the particular negative impacts of the current racist systems on all people, and also map out suggestions for a vision of a more equitable economy on the horizon.
  • Thursday, June 25, 2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.: In the final keynote, New York Times columnist and author David Brooks will explore what it means to connect in this moment, and how the arts can be part of weaving us all back together. The keynote also features a three-minute pre-recorded performance from Dance Exchange.

The full agenda can be viewed at Credentialed media should contact Inga Vitols to register.

“For over 50 years we have convened in person, but like most other convenings across the world, the Convention must transform itself for safety. As people across the country seek ways to connect and find hope, bringing the arts to communities is more important than ever,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Our program hopes to inspire and energize attendees, provide opportunity for dialogue and conversation, and help deliver attendees back into their core work with new tools for navigating what is to come. It is a very difficult time, but it is also a time of opportunity and inspiration, and I look forward to convening hundreds of arts leaders for these vital discussions.”

Americans for the Arts extends special thanks to The Rosenthal Family Foundation (Jamie Rosenthal Wolf, Rick Rosenthal, and Nancy Stephens) and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck for their generous support of the 33rd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. The annual convention is generously supported in part by American Express and The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at


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