Guide to the Agenda

Plenary Sessions | Skills-Building Workshops | Breakout Sessions | At the Intersections (ATI) Sessions | Professional Affinity Groups | Trend Workshops | Lunch Sessions | Dine-Arounds | The Details

This year in Portland, we’re looking forward to a Full Circle experience that satisfies a variety of interests, positions, and identities. We’re continuing to strengthen our At the Intersections arc, and we’re providing a bounty of Plenary, Breakout, and Skills-Building sessions to bring you new ideas and perspectives from thought leaders inside and outside our field. We look forward to creating ‘virtuous circles’ together--feedback loops where our vision for a better world for and because of theatre reinforce each other. Before joining the circle, however, we wanted to share some helpful info to prepare you for your Conference adventure.



The TCG National Conference is a full and rich experience, with programming, theatre, and social opportunities throughout our three days together. Especially if you are a first-time attendee, we encourage you to read up on programming ahead of time, so that you’re prepared to take full advantage of what’s in store. Read on for a glossary of Conference agenda terms and programming descriptions.



These are all-attendee sessions featuring exciting artists and speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds, as well as award presentations and other programming. Read more about our lineup of plenary speakers, including Jeff Chang, Anand Giridharadas, and Cheryl Strayed, and check out our Conference Speaker Syllabus for more links to their writings here.



These three-hour tightly-focused skills-building journeys are carefully designed for practitioners of different experience levels, budget sizes, and aesthetic interest. Visit Conference 2.0 to read about the selection of workshops we’re offering for the bulk of our time together on Friday. Please plan to attend BOTH parts 1 & 2 of the same workshop!



These are 90-minute small group sessions that can manifest in a range of formats, from panels, to roundtables, to interactive performances. There are three rounds of Breakout sessions this year, on Friday and Saturday (see Agenda). Breakout sessions on Friday are concurrent with Skills-Building workshops, in the morning and afternoon. Please decide in advance if you will be attending breakouts or a Workshop on Friday. As we said above, workshop attendees are asked to attend BOTH parts of the same workshop!



At the Intersections (ATI) is a movement-building arc of conference programming focused on advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion through affinity and allyship sessions around intersectional areas of identity. ATI will feature sessions focused on disability, gender, race & ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. The arc begins with How We Show Up, a session for all conference attendees to develop a shared analysis of this approach; and ends with How We Move Forward, a gathering of all affinity and allyship sessions to share findings, build solidarity, and identify opportunities for collective action.


This arc relies on the following three principles (and the sessions and session types indicated below) to work towards its goals:


1) We need to come together before we work apart: Our all-attendee session on Thursday, called “How We Show Up”, will not only lay the groundwork for the At the Intersections sessions, but share best practices for all Conference attendees for making the most of our time together.


This year, we’re also introducing a few other ways to “come together” during the opening hours of the Conference:


Why ED&I? A Primer on TCG's Commitment to Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

This brown bag lunch on Thursday, will serve as an introduction to TCG’s ED&I Values. TCG's strategic plan includes a multi-year, six-point Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Initiative to transform the national theatre field into a more equitable, inclusive and diverse community. Our Conferences are representative of this commitment, and much of our programming is dedicated to moving the needle in our field on these issues. This presentation will introduce Conference attendees to TCG's work in this area, in addition to providing some context for the language, philosophy, and tools we use to work towards equity in the arts and in our world.


Anti-Racist Resources for White People

This session will offer multiple entry points for white people working against racism in their personal and professional lives. Stemming from the energy and size of our past white affinity spaces, we’re creating a space early in the Conference for continued learning, analysis development, and movement-building, led by white-identified facilitators whose anti-racist values are closely tied to their leadership style and decision-making. This session will be geared towards those who racially identify as white, but is open to anyone who would like to participate.


Intergenerational Leaders of Color Meeting

Since 2003, TCG has gathered theatres of color for candid conversations about issues and challenges specific to this part of our field. In more recent years, the conversations have evolved and expanded to include a larger intergenerational group of leaders of color. This session will invite ongoing group discussion about pertinent questions, issues, and solutions for transferring information, experience, expertise, and successful models between the generations. This session is intended for Conference attendees who identify as people of color.


2) Lead with our whole selves: While it can be very effective to have conversations around specific areas of identity, we must always do so with the wholeness of our experiences in mind. That’s why we’re calling these sessions “At the Intersections”: we’re not just meeting each other at the crossroads of our identities, but acknowledging the complex identities within ourselves. At the Intersections will culminate with a town hall (“How We Move Forward”) on Saturday that empowers all of us to share what we’ve experienced across these interwoven areas of identity.


You’ll also notice that a number of our Breakout and Skills-Building sessions this year feature the “At the Intersections” tag on Conference 2.0. As the ATI arc continues to evolve, we are attempting to merge the “personal” and “professional” in each of our unique identities, which means removing divisions between our ED&I work and our professional development work at the Conference. We can’t effectively experience one without the other, and this dynamic will play a role in many other areas of our Conference programming.


3) Every group is different: From figuring out content to deciding on structure to agreeing on the presence of allies in the room, there will be no one-size-fits-all for our Identity Affinity Groups, which are a fundamental part of the At the Intersections arc. For the 2017 Conference, we’ve been working with the attendees to build consensus around deeply-personalized sessions that meet the unique needs of each group.


TCG has created space for both affinity and ally-inclusive sessions based on how attendees self-identify in five areas of identity: gender, disability, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, national identity. Affinity groups—each meeting once between Thursday and Saturday—will empower networking and coalition-building for theatre practitioners who self-identify as part of these groups, and ally-inclusive groups will mobilize around shared equity, diversity, and inclusion-related goals.



As in past years, we are also providing an opportunity for theatre people to meet based on their professional role in theatre. Each group is facilitated by one of your colleagues from the field, who will help guide a conversation around the most pressing issues faced by those who share your professional identity. The Professional Affinity Groups will meet once on Friday, in the early evening in case you want to take your group from the Conference space into a happy hour before all of the exciting Friday evening programming!



These sessions feature expert speakers from various companies formally affiliated with TCG, and are each designed to address specific business needs of TCG’s membership. Past Trend Workshops have included included My Audience, Your Audience (TRG Arts), Digital Marketing for the Arts: How to Reach and Engage More Patrons at Every Stage of the Funnel (MOGOArts), and Flex Your Subscription Muscles (TheatreMania/OvationTix).



For those who feel lunch is a meal best enjoyed over even more programming, check out Conference 2.0 for a diverse set of Friday and Saturday 60-minute Lunch sessions.



Carefully curated by our Portland Host Committee, these are intimate dining excursions on Friday evening, hosted by area artists and arts leaders at some of the most popular culinary destinations in town. Are you a foodie? Flying solo at the Conference? Sign up for a Dine-Around on Conference 2.0 and meet your group after Friday programming ends to travel to the restaurant together.




A few other things to help make your Conference experience unforgettable...



Because we’re using our Conference 2.0 digital platform even more than in prior years, we ask that you pay special attention to your 2.0 sign-ups. Some of our Skills-Building workshops will have capacity limits, and will indicate as such in their 2.0 descriptions – please note this and only sign up for the workshops that you truly plan to attend! For workshops with caps, your opt-in on 2.0 will be taken as a formal sign-up, and may be sending another attendee to the workshop’s wait list.



Friday’s Skills-Building workshops have been designed for the same group to participate in both the first and second part of the same workshop. This is to offer attendees a truly deep dive into one area of interest and to build more meaningful collaborative relationships with your fellow Skills-Builders. For these reasons, and for the sake of your session leaders, please try to stick to the plan!



TCG runs a family-friendly Conference! Attendees are welcome to bring children between the ages of 11 to 18 to all plenary sessions free of charge and to TCG-curated performances. Please sign them up at Registration for plenary sessions, and accompany them into the ballroom. This is limited to the plenary sessions and TCG-hosted performances only, and respectful audience behavior is mandatory.



Nursing mothers may also inquire at Registration about the privacy space that TCG has set aside for this purpose. For more information on family resources and things to do with kids, please visit our Portland Host Committee created Guide to Portland.


We’re looking forward to seeing you in Portland! If you have further questions, please feel free to direct them to