I am quickly learning that in the world of arts administration there is no shortage of networking opportunities. With the gracious personal support of Overture Center for the Arts President Ted DeDee, I recently participated in the International Association of Venue Managers Performing Arts Managers Conference (PAMC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was in awe of the breadth of roles that the 200+ participants played in their organizations. From venue managers to consultants and technicians to educators, everyone joined together under the roof of the Golden Nugget to share their relationship to the dynamic world of venue management. What impressed me most about this particular conference was the overwhelming feeling of camaraderie. From a student’s vantage point, people were incredibly quick to offer their expertise on how to navigate the industry.
The conference itself provided a wealth of information, from dynamic ticket pricing to technological advancements in the industry (did you know that theaters are starting to allow food/beverage ordering from iPads?!). And no trip to Vegas would be complete without a visit to the Strip. Although I have been to Vegas multiple times, I have never experienced it from the point of view of a venue manager. As a PAMC attendee, we were given a private, backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil’s Zarcana. After gallivanting far above the stage on the Aria catwalks, we watched a presentation from two Cirque executives directly in the theater. It was fascinating to hear them speak of strategy and marketing; they provided a new level of relevance to everything that I have been learning in the Wisconsin School of Business.
Aside from the Golden Nugget and the Aria, we were also taken to the newest addition to the Las Vegas Performing Arts scene, the Smith Center. The word remarkable does not do this half-billion dollar facility justice. Built away from the Strip, the Smith Center hosts Broadway acts, touring music groups, and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. We had the privilege of spending time in the beautiful main theater, listening to presentations on risk management and the history of Las Vegas.
Overall, the conference definitely solidified my interest in venue management. It provided great insight into the attractive side of the business (revenue streams, artists, the network), but it also provided information about things that I had never thought about (HVAC, lighting equipment, software). I walked away with an abundance of new information, an excitement for the future of the industry, and an ever-growing network of individuals I look forward to reconnecting with at next year’s event!