Thrive 2016

Thrive2014Thrive Arts Conference 2016

June 2, 2016 | 8:30am – 4:30pm
Princeton University – McDonnell Hall
(Princeton, NJ)

Join hundreds of executive, marketing, and development staff and board members of regional arts organizations for the third biennial Thrive Arts Conference, previously held in 2012 and 2014 to sold out audiences.

Spend the day with us and explore how we, as an arts community, can expand and diversify both our leadership and our base of support. Cultivating new audiences, donors, funders, and leaders may be one of the greatest challenges we face as an industry, but one that also presents tremendous opportunities for growth.

Thanks to everyone who attended this year’s conference. See you next time!

For attendees:
Click here for conference downloads. If you don’t have your password, check your program guide or email us.

Conference Schedule

8:30am – 9:30am: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:45am – 11:15am: Morning Plenary Session: Keynote Address
11:15am – 11:30am: Coffee Break
11:30am – 12:30pm: First Breakout Session
12:30pm – 1:30pm: Networking Lunch
1:30pm – 2:30pm: Second Breakout Session
2:30pm – 2:45pm: Coffee Break
2:45pm – 4:30pm: Closing Plenary Session

8:30am – 9:30am: Registration and Continental Breakfast 

Take advantage of this time before the first plenary session to grab a bite to eat and network with your colleagues from throughout the region.

9:45am – 11:15am: Morning Plenary Session: Welcoming Remarks and Keynote Address

Aaron Dworkin, Dean, School of Music Theatre & Dance. July 28,Dean Maverick: Addressing the Relevance of the Arts in the 21st Century
Aaron Dworkin
(Founder of The Sphinx Organization and Dean of University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance)

In this inspiring session, Aaron Dworkin shares his personal story, which led to founding the Sphinx Organization, whose mission is to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts, and ultimately serving as dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Dworkin delves into the important role the arts play in society, as well as their associated value and impact in communities. He’ll also share strategies surrounding the vision of relevance and inclusion at Michigan and how it is being implemented among a wide breadth of constituencies.

11:30am – 12:30pm: First Breakout Session (Choose One)

Hill-MossResearch into Action: The Changing Behaviors of Cultural Audiences
Hil Moss (Senior Strategist, LaPlaca Cohen)

Audience behaviors and expectations are changing rapidly, driven by ever-multiplying and diversifying options for spending leisure time, and by technological developments that are fundamentally altering the way we interface with our world. We must delve deeper than ever before into not only the “who” of cultural participation—but also the “how” and the “why,” with a focus on pushing research into substantive action. Building on key insights that emerged from Culture Track—the largest national tracking study of U.S. cultural consumers—this session will explore these critical shifts in today’s audiences, investigating how behaviors differ by generational segments, and citing “best practice” examples of engaging audiences in innovative ways.

DonnaWalkerKuhne300dpi_1Growing Cultural Participation: Engaging Diverse Audiences – Tactics, Challenges, Success
Donna Walker-Kuhne (Vice President, Community Engagement, New Jersey Performing Arts Center)

This session will highlight national and international trends in cultural diversity as well as examine the challenges in engaging, marketing, and sustaining relationships with targeted communities. Case studies will be shared to illustrate leadership and effective campaigns for growing cultural participation, including tackling questions regarding how to measure success.

Theresa_JacksThe Next Generation of Philanthropy
Moderator: Theresa Jacks (Deputy Director, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers)

The funding landscape is changing and so are the ways donors, corporations and foundations are examining their giving and investments. Join this moderated town hall-style conversation with representatives from the grantmaking and donor community as we discuss current trends including corporate shared value, Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), and Social Impact Bonds. Understanding these changes and others that are unfolding will assist leaders of arts institutions as they work to build and sustain their organizations.

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Networking Lunch

Take a break and enjoy your lunch. Catch up with colleagues and share takeaways from the morning sessions. After all, we take great pride in bringing people together and putting out a good spread!

1:30pm – 2:30pm: Second Breakout Session (Choose One)

Dana_Weber_HeadshotMillennials and Gen X-ers… Waiting in the Wings
Patricia Kiernan Johnson (Director of Marketing & Communications, Opera America), Dana Weber (Director of Client Engagement, Seer Interactive)

Rocked by massive societal changes, Millennials and Gen X-ers have very different expectations than the baby boomers that have traditionally been at the forefront of our audience development efforts. These are the next generations of arts audiences and understanding how to not only reach them, but actually engage them, is vital to the long-term success of the arts industry. Get ready to swing the spotlight around and focus on the future! We’ll explore case studies from arts groups across the nation and review best practices on how to attract these coveted audiences.

CWilliams-headshotPlugging In
Christopher Williams (Vice President, Capacity Interactive)

Over the last 15 years, the channels through which people and organizations communicate has changed faster than any other time in human history. Mobile devices, social networks, video, and search engines are now all critical vehicles for reaching your constituents. As cultural marketers it can be daunting to keep on top of all of these changes and position your organization for success across ever evolving digital platforms. Using research and case studies, this session will provide guidelines and strategies for evolving your organization in the digital age as well as actionable tips to focus and bolster your digital marketing. We’ll explore best practices in social media, digital advertising, and content creation, with actionable takeaways for both digital novices and more experienced practitioners alike.

mepicDEhman-HeadshotThe Value of Accessibility
Moderators: Robert Carr (Director of Programs & Services, NJ Theatre Alliance), Donald Ehman (Access Coordinator, NJ State Council on the Arts)

When talking about diversity, it’s important to include people with disabilities in the conversation. How can cultural organizations work with patrons, partners and each other in advancing this issue? Join your colleagues and representatives from the Cultural Access Network Project for a lively conversation around audience development, facilities, developing an advisory board, and programming. A brief pre-conference survey will be distributed to those that register for this session to learn more about what topics are most important to the field.

2:45pm – 4:30pm: Closing Plenary Session


Drawing Conclusions – The Art of Thinking Forward
Victor Barbella (Principal, Proscenium – Consulting, Coaching, Facilitation)

Join us as we close out the conference by coming together to translate the concepts we spent the day examining into a visual tapestry of thought and reflection through the art of graphic recording. This interactive session will help illustrate the ideas we explored during Thrive through the creation of large scale visual imagery, created in real time before your very eyes.

Post-Conference Networking

yankeedoodleJust because the conference ends that doesn’t mean the conversation has to! Plan to stick around and join fellow conference-goers for discounted pints and bites at the nearby Yankee Doodle Tap Room at the Nassau Inn. Sit near the fireplace or out on the bustling patio overlooking Palmer Square as you savor modern American gastropub cuisine complemented by 19 craft beers on tap, an excellent wine list, and signature seasonal libations. The Tap Room’s warmth and friendliness makes it one of Princeton’s most popular gathering spots.

Head over after Thrive and simply show your name badge to get 20% off everything on the Yankee Doodle Tap Room menu.



Advance Registration (April 22 – May 26, 2016)
Individuals: $75*
Group Rate: $65* per attendee

Walk-Up Registration (Space Permitting)
Individuals: $100
No discounts or group rates available

* 15% discount for ArtPride members with promo code
ArtPride Member Organizations: Don’t have your promo code?
Contact Shoshanna Wiesner in the membership department to get one.

Please Note: Group Rate applies to 3 or more registrants from the same organization.


Registration includes continental breakfast, buffet lunch, admission to two plenary sessions and two breakout sessions.

Be prepared to select which breakout sessions you wish to attend during the registration process.



Click here for directions to the Princeton University campus.

Free parking is available in the visitor section of Lot 21.
The walk from Lot 21 to McDonnell Hall is a half-mile and only 10 minutes. The route will be clearly marked.

Here’s a look at the walk:

A free campus shuttle is also available. Be sure to allot plenty of time if taking the shuttle. Your stop will be Jadwin Hall, immediately after Lot 21.

Once you get off the shuttle, here’s how to get into McDonnell Hall:


Why not make the most of your time in Princeton?NassauInn Just a block away from campus, the Nassau Inn welcomes visitors with an uncompromising standard of hospitality that dates back to 1756. A unique blend of historic charm and modern style makes the Nassau Inn a perfect option for your overnight stay. Learn more and book a room.

Click here for other hotel options, courtesy of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Speakers and sessions listed are current as of the time of publishing but are subject to change. If you require assistive listening or have questions regarding accessibility, please contact Shoshanna Wiesner at 609.479.3377 x301, or email, at least two weeks prior to the event.


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