A few weeks ago, I
flew to Arizona to join the ATHE Conference Committee, led by Vice President
Sonja Kuftinec, and to assist in finalizing plans for this year’s conference at
the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale. In addition to reviewing the conference
schedule, the committee explored the venue and tried our best to imagine the
needs, wants and expectations of ATHE members.
In the coming months,
conference committee members will blog about the 2014 conference. Those entries
will reveal the identity of the keynote speaker, the amazing line-up of
workshop leaders, and the types of performances that you’ll see in July in
Scottsdale. There are lots of thrilling revelations on the horizon.
This first post is
dedicated to helping everyone get in the ATHE ’14 and Arizona mindset. A few
answers to some burning questions
related to the conference’s location:
Arizona in July?
We’re going to sunny
Arizona. Yes, it will be hot in the daytime before the temperature drops at
night. Of course, conference attendees will spend the bulk of their time in
climate-controlled meeting rooms looking out windows at Scottsdale’s remarkably
blue skies. If not there, then they will be attending meetings poolside along
Fairmont Princess Scottsdale’s five pools and sipping on a cool beverage. After
a fairly brutal winter—Polar Vortex, anyone?, we’re all ready for some heat.
Why Arizona? Well,
ATHE’s officers listened to you and heard your concerns about the costs of
attending the annual conference. They determined that going somewhere where
it’s low season would result in BIG savings for ATHE members. When factoring in
airfare, hotel costs, and local transportation, ATHE ’14 will be one of the
least expensive conferences in recent years.
Also, the conference
location changes every year—East, Midwest, West—in an attempt to bring the
conference closer to the homes of ATHE members. Last year, we were in Florida.
This year, Arizona. Someday, we’ll make it up to Alaska.
Okay, so how nice is the hotel?
I’ll admit that it
seems shallow to even raise this question. We are going to the conference to recharge
our batteries by being around people who are passionate about theatre in higher
education. We are traveling to Scottsdale to learn from dynamic professionals.
We are renewing our ATHE memberships to network, share works-in-progress,
engage in meaningful conversations about the value of the arts. Who cares about
The hotel is
spectacular. In fact, its opulence can be a bit intimidating. There are amazing
onsite restaurants, a Starbucks near the lobby, a kid’s club (for children over
6) that’ll keep the little ones occupied all-day and the list goes on…and
on. Thanks to it being low season, the
nightly rate is $119/night (or $60, if you split it with someone). It’s
actually cheaper to stay at the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale than to stay in a
no-frills motel in parts of Chicago.
Since ATHE members are
flying to Arizona to conduct business and not simply bask in the luxury of the
Fairmont Princess Scottsdale, the conference committee has arranged a number of
events, activities, and performances that will provoke questions and prompt
dialogue about not only theatre in higher education but also the experience of
being in the Sonoran desert (and, yet, surrounded by so much water) in Arizona.
I’m thinking about going to the Grand Canyon…
What does this have to
do with the conference? Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to
visit the Grand Canyon. It’s only 4 hours away and is truly spectacular. Rent a
car. Stay overnight. Check it out.
As a person who grew
up really, really close to Niagara Falls, I can be skeptical about the appeal of
natural "wonders.” I found the Grand Canyon to be absolutely amazing…part
spiritual experience, part fantastic picnic site, part awesome place to hike. On
the hottest days, the rim of the canyon is only in the 70s. Bring lots of water,
especially if you decide to hike down into the canyon (where it is much
When should I make my reservations for ATHE
Now. Right now.
Although registration is not yet open for the conference, you can make your
hotel reservations. As always, there are a limited number of rooms set aside
for conference attendees. If you want to guarantee that you will have a room
awaiting you in sunny Scottsdale for ATHE ‘14, just click on the following