Posted by Cindy Bracker, Communications Director

For the last week, we’ve had such a WONDERFUL exchange of ideas and opinions related to a single survey comment that I thought I’d see if we can repeat it.  This week, let’s address this:

I know this is beyond your control but I found myself twice having to choose between really great presentations. Thursday – Anomalies and Curiosities and the Roundtable discussion Fueling the Imagination. Friday Panel 50 Years of Women and Panel Strategies for Change. I am grateful that you will be putting these on the web so I can view them and I don’t have a solution because I am sure scheduling is a nightmare. Perhaps most important for you to hear is how many excellent panels were put on. Absolutely loved Pete Pinnell’s presentation. Love to hear him again.

First, as an aside, in case you don’t know, YES, we are getting conference presentations up online as quickly as we can.  About two a week are posted to our YouTube Channel, follow us there, or follow the blog or our facebook page to be alerted to all the new content (and Pete’s lecture went up just this past week!)  More coming soon also to the NCECA 360 Podcast, so check that out as well.

BUT, the crux of the issue here is the amount of conference programming NCECA offers, and my question for you is this….Is it too much?  But wait! before you answer that, let me give you a little background, insight and other things to consider.

About 6 years ago, we had three large lecture hall rooms for presentations (what we call concurrent programming), plus the big hall for the simultaneous demonstrators.  At that time there was also a room for slide forums and a room for video screenings, and the K-12 programming room.  Around that time, we added the student-led programming, and started to bolster the K-12 programming.  We realized that there may be TOO MANY choices, so about 5 years ago, I think, we actually reduced the number of concurrent session rooms from 3 down to 2.  Which helped, except then we created the Process Room…..and this year we added the Fab Lab as well.  So now we have the two big lecture rooms, simultaneous demos, process room, fab lab plus K12 programming, and student-led programming (the last two of those, incidentally, are often very popular with populations OUTSIDE of their intended audience).  So have we ballooned too much?  More people now attending the conference means we MUST have more options (or more space, which may or may not be possible since we sometimes can’t take a sledgehammer to a wall in a convention center), but with many options comes not only many hard choices, but also greater expense.  If you didn’t see it before, check out my conference cost breakdown from last year inside-nceca-vol-2-no-5-the-costs-of-the-conference.  Something I realized SINCE I wrote that post last fall is that when we add rooms, we also have to add additional A/V crew and equipment, which can get very expensive as well.  Many people already believe that the conference cost is too high, though I strongly believe this relates less to the cost of an NCECA Conference pass and more to the additional costs of attending, none of which NCECA benefits from.

So, that’s my opening volley.  Now I’d love to hear from NCECA members….we will be talking about this at our spring board meeting as we plan the program for Portland, so tell us what you think, either in the comments below or in our NCECA Facebook Group discussion!

Categories: Featured, Inside NCECA

5 Responses so far.

  1. Since this was my comment – thanks Cindy for publishing it – I thought I would get the ball rolling. Did others have the same issue with wonderful panels/talks being scheduled at the same time. If I am the only one then it is a non issue. Is there a way to highlight certain panels and not have them scheduled at the same time?
    I also found after a morning of sitting inside I needed to get out and move about. I don’t get to the demonstrations but always buy a couple of DVD’s. What do you do?

  2. Joseph Bott says:

    I think this is a problem that is never going to be solved. Unless you offer only 1 event at a time, there will always be people who want to see multiple events but must make a choice of which to see. I had this problem in KC, but I was already aware of it being an issue so I had to make choices on what I wanted to see more. At a conference of this size, that is just normal procedure. It is ok for people to have to make choices on what they want to see and hear. Videos are posted later anyway so they will get to see all of them eventually.

  3. Mo Dickens says:

    For those of us who work at Belger Arts Center and the Belger Crane Yard Studios we pretty much missed the conference. We were SWAMPED from Monday morning at 10 am til Saturday afternoon at 5:30. A normal Thursday will usually have one school bus tour and about a dozen walk-ins. On the Thursday of the conference we counted 1,347 visitors in the Belger Arts Center alone. I have one co-worker at that location. The only time I even got close to the convention center was for the Friday afternoon Awards Ceremony. It’s now been a month since the conference started and I STILL haven’t seen all the exhibits in the region, and some that I missed are closed already. We normally have our galleries open Wed. – Sat., but we decided to be open the Monday and Tuesday of the conference and we had very strong attendance both days. I would suggest to any Portland galleries hosting NCECA shows that they consider expanding their days and hours, if they can afford it, during the conference. I don’t know what it was like INSIDE the convention center in Kansas City, but outside, the streets were filled with art-seekers. Your bro in KC,MO Mo Dickens, Gallery Assistant, Belger Arts Center

  4. I agree with Joseph Bott’s comment.

    Prior to the KC NCECA conference, the only other national conferences I have ever attended are 3 of the NAEA (National Art Education Association) National Conferences. NAEA offered TONS of lectures and demos every hour, where I would have to choose between 3-5 to go to during one time, a few times a day. So in comparison to NAEA, I was THRILLED to not have to sort through as many options for NCECA, but still have options. I think with todays technology of posting the popular lectures online, it would be a shame to limit the amount offered at the conference. I say stay the same, or go a little bigger, but definitely not smaller.

  5. I feel that reducing the number of presentations offered would be a crime, and that doing so would greatly diminish the prestige of the conference as a whole. If videos are being posted to the blog of presentations, then it is not only possible, but easily so to view what you have missed at a later date. The true problem at hand should be figuring out how to feasibly offer more options, rather than limiting them. That is a crucial part to guaranteeing a progressive growth for the organization and maintaining its unmatched credibility.