In early 2022, the Balancing Act team worked with Consultant Shannon Litzenberger to dream around what might be possible for a conference in a day. We are grateful for this work and the guidance of the Conference Advisory Squad in helping to shape both the content and the feeling of the day.
Conference Advisory Squad
Saba Akhtar, Cassie-Hope Aubin, Sehar Bhojani, Ella Cooper, Shira Leuchter, and Rebecca Singh.
The vision for the one-day conference leans on three pillars:
1. Piloting a New Paradigm
Balancing Act’s Level UP! Initiative supports a culture shift in the workplaces of the performing arts. This conference will introduce the policy models developed through the pilots of our ‘21-22 Level UP! Strategy Partners, celebrating their work in helping to move the needle toward a culture of care. Inspired by the work of our Level UP! partners, this one-day conference itself is a pilot project that explores the question: How can we create a conference that cares for caregivers?
2. Expanding and Deepening Community
The conference brings together our Level UP! Strategy Partners from the Year 1 and 2 Cohorts, introducing this national network to each other and to conference attendees, creating new relationships and deepening existing partnerships. The conference is free and open to both invited guests and the general public. We will be inviting folks who are new to Balancing Act and programming that invites their attendance.
The conference is an opportunity to come together and ‘fuel up’ – for the purposes of continuing to build momentum toward changes in support for caregivers in the performing arts. Sessions will be both restorative and energizing. In the months following the conference, Balancing Act will host online events on the topic of sustainability, as well as two in-person satellite events in the Atlantic and Pacific regions, which will build momentum in those specific communities.
Conference Design Principles
The following design principles helped to underpin the programming and care supports:
- Centering Care
Designing for a care-centered event means that programming aims to have the attendees feel cared for. In particular, the design prioritizes care for the caregivers attending the conference, as well as their dependents.
- Artistic and Aesthetic Engagement
Designing for artistic and aesthetic engagement means that the conference will showcase work by artists and performance makers, and the content of the panels and sessions will be in dialogue with this work.
- Participation and Creative Agency
Designing for participation and creative agency means that conference attendees, young and old, will be invited to engage with different aspects of the programming in ways that allow their voices to be heard and for this to affect the outcomes. Different access needs will be considered when designing participatory activity.
- Inclusive Engagement
Designing for inclusive engagement means intentionally involving individuals and groups that are historically underserved in the performing arts, and supporting equitable, intersectional, pluralistic engagement and accessible pathways. A Conference Advisory Squad composed of individuals holding diverse identities and intersections will help to curate content, suggest pathways for safer spaces for attendees who identify with equity-owed groups, and advise on removing barriers for participation across differences. We acknowledge caregivers as an equity-seeking group.
- An Ethos of Informality and Space for Connection
Designing for informality and space for connection means that the schedule and use of the venue are well-considered in order to create a warm, unhurried, relational environment for conversation and connection. A ‘grassroots’ feel is welcome! It should feel like everyone is welcome to bring their fully human selves to the day (as well as the humans for whom they care).