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Arizona in July?: Getting Ready for ATHE '14

Posted By Harvey Young, Sunday, February 9, 2014
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 venue?

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 hotter).

When should I make my reservations for ATHE ’14?

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 link:

Tags:  Conference 2014  Scottsdale 

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