ASN Annual Conference | Oct 26 - 29, 2021 | Chicago, IL

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Charting the Unknown & Paving the Way: The Arts Lead
Setting new standards in a time of uncertainty and unrest

The 2021 Digital Conference Program is HERE!


2020 has challenged us in ways unimaginable. Both personally and professionally. Separating the two became impossible. With children at home and quarantined with parents and loved ones, homeschooling and working side-by-side became the norm. We found ourselves in one another’s homes and personal space, sharing, creating, and supporting one another. Our homes became classrooms. Our work became more personal. Schools and businesses shuttered and whatever we understood as “normal” had shifted overnight. It required us to adapt quickly, solve problems creatively, and to find new ways to have a human connection.

After months of quarantine, the world was shaken again by the death of George Floyd, spurring a new civil rights movement to answer the call of being human. Peaceful protests took place around the country and around the world asking us to fight the shadows in the closet and to protect our black brothers and sisters. This movement took us out of our homes and put us into the streets, side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, raising our voices, unraveling, and demanding justice.

With these challenges and this movement, we have seen first-hand that crisis is a strong driver of creativity and innovation. The 2021 ASN Conference will address how our industry has changed in times of uncertainty and unrest. What new standards and business practices have been developed over the past year? How did the creative arts help us cope as a nation? How did the institutions we work in embrace creativity and innovation to set new standards? What is the new normal? How do we move forward?

This is an opportunity for us to explore the significance of the role of arts and culture in advancing racial equity and social justice. What work have we done to create a commitment to racial equity and how are we holding our industries and communities accountable? How can we continue to push the arts past diversity frameworks into systemic change?

From sheltering in place and self-isolation to mass gatherings and protests that brought us all back together, 2020 is arguably and historically one of the most significant years in the books. This years’ conference celebrates the challenges we’ve overcome, the new lens through which we view the world, the unshakable bonds between humans, and the creativity, perseverance, and compassion in which we navigated this time. We are forever changed.