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Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE Annual Proposal Submission Links and Guidelines)

Deadline to Propose all Sessions, Meetings, and Preconference Events for the 2017 ATHE Conference in Las Vegas: November 1, 2016

Please click here to Apply to Propose a Session, Meeting or a Preconference Event

Deadline to Apply for Grants for 2017 Sessions or Preconference Events (including any applications for conference passes or day passes): November 1, 2016

Please click here to submit an ATHE grant proposal

Spectacle: balancing education, theory, and praxis #ATHE2017OfBreadAndCircuses

In Poetics, Aristotle ranks spectacle last among his six constituent elements of drama, privileging the poetic over the visual, claiming that spectacle “stirs the emotions” yet “is less a matter of art than the others.” (GRUBE) In the millennia since, countless artists and scholars have championed the aesthetics of theatre and stood in defense of spectacle. Nevertheless, a bias persists.

The 2017 ATHE Conference Committee invites you to join us in Las Vegas, Nevada for an examination of the role of spectacle in theatre practice, scholarship, and pedagogy. What opportunities do an emphasis on spectacle present to us as artists, scholars, theorists, and educators? Does a spectacle-driven theatre lead us away from Aristotle’s aims, or do we find that enhanced spectacle serves to support and strengthen plot, character, thought, diction, and music? How have certain bodies been made spectacular? How does the use of spectacle highlight or obscure the politics of performance, representation, and staging? What ethical and political responsibilities must artists, scholars, and activists negotiate when employing spectacle in performance, design, scholarship, and/or dramaturgy? For full information, visit our Theme page.

Proposal Application Guidelines

The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) welcomes your proposal for our 2017 Annual Conference. Please complete one (1) Proposal Form for each proposed session. Please note that you must apply using this form by November 1, 2017, for proposals of any of the following:

  • Single Focus Group Concurrent Sessions
  • Multidisciplinary Concurrent Sessions (sessions for which you have secured two sponsoring focus groups)
  • ANY Preconference events for which you either A) seek space at the official conference hotel OR B) are applying for grant funds on through ATHE’s grant proposal process (for which the deadline is ALSO November 1, 2017)
  • Meetings of ATHE committees that require meetings at the conference
  • Focus Group Business Meetings
  • Committee Meetings

THE ATHE 2017 Conference will offer concurrent sessions, workshops, performances and keynote opportunities. All proposals will be ranked and proposals will be reviewed by the focus groups and/or committees you have indicated as sponsors. ANY session for which you are hoping to have a room or any other physical space scheduled for ATHE 2017 MUST be proposed through this form. Do not assume that ANY session will be automatically scheduled if you do not submit a proposal, EVEN in the cases of membership meetings, committee meetings, etc. More below.

If you have questions regarding your proposal please contact your Focus Group Conference Planner. A listing of Focus Group Conference Planners can be found here. It is important that they know what proposals are coming their way, so we encourage you to contact them prior to submitting your proposal.

Presenter Expectations

  • All individuals presenting must register for the full conference. If you are NOT a member of ATHE you will be required to join in order to present.
  • All individual presenting are responsible for booking the own travel and hotel room reservations. It is recommended that you stay at the ATHE Conference Hotel.
  • All individuals presenting should plan to be present for the entire conference in Las Vegas from Thursday, August 3rd – Sunday, August 6, 2017.

How Proposals for Single Focus Group Sessions and Multidisciplinary Sessions Are Submitted, Evaluated, and Selected

ATHE accepts multiple kinds of session proposals. Please note all individuals presenting must register for the conference and are responsible for their hotel and travel expenses. If you are NOT a member of ATHE you will be required to join in order to present. How those proposals are evaluated depends on which kind of proposal you are making. The two most common ways people present at ATHE are as follows: Single Focus Group Sessions and Multidisciplinary Sessions. Both of these kinds of sessions are 90 minutes. Please note that single focus group sessions INCLUDE business/membership meetings for each focus group. Each focus group’s leadership must select someone to submit a proposal for your membership meeting. These business/membership meetings are automatically accepted and do not count against Focus Groups in terms of scheduling.

Participants will only be able to present in total of (2) ATHE concurrent sessions, in an effort to avoid scheduling conflicts and afford more individuals the opportunity to present.

Presenters should plan to stay for the duration of the conference.

Proposals for these sessions are submitted to ATHE’s central office (online at the provided links), but they are not evaluated by ATHE staff or by a particular year’s all-conference committee. Rather, ATHE is divided into a range of focus groups with their own membership and leadership, and when you submit your proposal, you indicate sponsors for that session proposal.

If you are not familiar with ATHE’s Focus Groups, please click one of the links below

Focus Groups A - D
Focus Groups L - S
Focus Groups T - Z

If you are submitting a proposal for a Single Focus Group session, your sponsoring group would be one specific focus group (for example: the focus group Women & Theatre). If you are submitting a multidisciplinary proposal (MD), your proposal would have two primary sponsoring groups (for example: Directing Program and Black Theatre Association)

What needs to happen for me to be able to say a group is sponsoring my group’s proposal? Do I just choose sponsoring groups myself based on my sense of the groups for whom my proposal would be most relevant? No. In order to list a Focus Group as a sponsor, you must contact that focus group’s Conference Planner PRIOR TO the November 1 deadline and explain the session you would like to propose and ask the conference planner if the focus group is willing to be a sponsor of that session. You should not indicate a focus group as a sponsor if the focus group has not agreed to sponsor that session. For multidisciplinary sessions, you contact both sponsoring groups to ask that they agree to sponsor the proposal.

After you submit your proposal, ATHE’s central office sends each focus group the proposals that have been submitted with that group listed as a sponsor. Then each individual focus group convenes its own process for proposal vetting. In other words, the focus group leadership oversees a process through which members of that focus group read the proposals submitted to them, and they rank the proposals in order of desired acceptance and then send those rankings back to ATHE. Then ATHE staff uses those rankings to begin scheduling the conference, trying to schedule as many of each focus group’s sessions as possible, starting with the highest ranked sessions and then moving to mid-ranked sessions. Obviously the goal is to accept as many excellent sessions as we can, depending on hotel space and other factors. In the case of multidisciplinary (MD) session proposals, the proposal is sent to BOTH of the groups listed as primary sponsoring groups for ranking, and both rankings are taken into account as the staff works to schedule as many sessions as possible.

After the focus group ranking process has been completed and the staff has the opportunity to complete a draft schedule in consultation with that year’s VP for Conference, those who have applied to present will be notified about the status of their proposal and whether ATHE is able to accept it.

In addition, the rank of the proposal does not necessarily determine the specific time slot in which it will be scheduled. In the past, some people have asked: will our top ranked proposals receive the time slots perceived by some as most desirable on the conference schedule? Not necessarily, for several reasons: A) What is considered a most desirable presentation time differs widely, so we couldn’t begin to predict that and schedule accordingly, especially with a conference schedule as complicated as ATHE’s. B) There are many other factors considered as time slots for each session are scheduled, including AV capabilities in each presentation room, conflicts of various kinds, etc.

Ultimately, the decisions for acceptance and rejection of concurrent sessions lie primarily with ATHE’s focus groups, with ATHE staff and the VP for Conference making discretionary calls where needed in terms of how many total concurrent sessions to schedule, timing of slots, how many total MD sessions to schedule, AV complexities relevant to specific conference spaces, how to handle years in which some focus groups have an intensely disproportionate number of proposals submitted, etc. In almost all cases, questions about ranking of a proposal (and therefore its acceptance or rejection) are best referred to focus group leadership rather than the central conference chair, though the central conference chair can answer questions about overall approach or philosophy about that year’s specific conference schedule.

Again, all individuals presenting must register for the conference and are responsible for their hotel and travel expenses. If you are NOT a member of ATHE you will be required to join in order to present.

Additional questions can be directed to Alicia Tafoya, ATHE VP of Conference at: conf2017@athe.org

More Info on Other Kinds of Proposals Due November 1, 2016: Committee Meetings, Preconference Events, and All Grants

In addition to single-focus group and multidisciplinary session proposals, proposals for committee meetings and preconference events are due on November 1.

Committee meetings are typically meetings of standing committees chaired by members of ATHE Governing Council: Research & Publications, Professional Development, Membership & Marketing, etc. The chairs of those committees must apply for spaces for committee meetings through this form. Because those meetings are required for ATHE governance, they will definitely be scheduled rather than ranked and vetted, but we must receive the meeting request this way so that we can keep track of all requests for conference space in the same place. When you are asked to indicate the sponsoring group for these meetings, you simply select the name of your standing committee in the pull-down menu.

Preconference events are planned by specific focus groups, or sometimes by more than one focus group in collaboration. These are typically half-day, whole-day or multiple-day events hosted by specific groups in the days leading up to the conference. The earliest pre-conferences can typically begin is the Tuesday prior to the opening of the conference (so two days before the whole conference begins). If your focus group wants to plan a preconference, you need to submit a proposal through this form. That said, the process after submission works differently from the process for concurrent sessions during the conference.

A preconference proposal is not ranked alongside other sessions for the conference itself. Instead, upon receipt of a preconference proposal, ATHE staffs do the following: A) They let the sponsoring group(s) know that such a proposal was made, to make sure that the person applying for a preconference event is in conversation with focus group leadership. B) They review space needs and other requests relevant to your proposal to let you know what ATHE will be able to support or will not be able to support relevant to your proposal. ATHE cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet all space requests relevant to preconferences, as it is impossible to predict how many preconference proposals we will receive on a given year or how their specific needs will match with the capabilities of that year’s conference hotel. C) They use the proposal as a record of an event that will need to be reflected in the electronic and paper versions of the conference program. D) They share those preconference proposals with the overall conference chair (VP for Conference), who refers to those proposals as they oversee the grant process, which includes preconference grants.

Even if you DO NOT plan to use a space at the official ATHE conference hotel, you should still submit an application for your preconference through the website by November 1, for the reasons besides space listed above.

Please note that--unlike for a concurrent session proposal--you DO NOT need to have all details (individual session presenters, etc) of the specific sessions of your preconference events determined in order to make a proposal through this form by November 1. Rather, through this form, you typically need to report a title and preliminary description, the desire to hold a preconference, the times and space needs, and some other key details. If your preconference is approved for space usage by ATHE, you will have additional communication with ATHE staff throughout the year, and that communication will allow you to convey additional details for the final program.

Grants are awarded by ATHE as a central organization in three categories related to each annual meeting: Session Grants, Debut Panel Grants, and Preconference Grants. All grant applications for the next year’s conference must be received by ATHE by November 1. The grant form and more information is available here.

The grant proposal vetting process is overseen by that year’s VP for Conference, with grant decisions conveyed and disbursement details handled by ATHE staff. The more complete and specific the grant applications are, the more likely the proposal will result in at least a partial (or sometimes complete) award. As you apply for these grants, please note that rarely are ATHE grants able to cover entire events, especially in the case of a preconference application. Though the maximum amounts we are able to award vary a bit from year to year, to be realistic, think in the realm of a few hundred dollars (or fewer) for your application rather than a few thousand. In the case of a preconference, for example, typically any funds awarded by ATHE simply supplement the primary funding base for your preconference: the registration fee you will charge for that preconference, which is a separate event from the general ATHE conference in terms of registration fees. If you have questions about the grant application process, contact the VP for Conference.

A few other grant details:

  • Some people ask if the funding process is automatic, meaning that applying simply secures you the funds. Awards are not automatic, and when they are offered, they can be granted wholly or partially, depending on available funds and other factors. Grant awardees are notified in late winter.
  • If you submit a grant application, there should be a corresponding application coming in through the general proposal form, too. For example, if you submit a grant application for debut panel support, we should be able to find a record of that debut panel application in our proposal records. Or if you submit for preconference support, we should be able to find a corresponding preconference application in the proposal forms.
  • The November 1st proposal process is THE ONLY WAY to apply for conference passes or day passes for specific presenters who might not otherwise attend ATHE. Typically, we are not able to grant conference passes or session passes outside of the grant proposal process, so members are not able to contact and request such passes later in the year. In other words, apply for a grant if you think your session will require attendance by people who will not be able to cover their own registration costs. More information about session passes and day passes can be found on the grant application form.

Session Formats

Concurrent Sessions:

  • Open to all conference attendees (included in the Conference Registration fee).
  • One hour and thirty minutes – no breaks.

Single Focus Group Submission Guidelines

  1. Please contact your Focus Group Conference Planner prior to submitting your proposal. A listing of Focus Group Conference Planners can be found here. It is important that they know what proposals are coming their way, so we encourage you to contact them prior to submitting your proposal.
  2. One or more individuals may present, so consider a partner or a few other individuals if you feel it will enhance your content and delivery. Your Focus Group Planner is a great resource for this.
  3. The Focus Group you list as your sponsoring focus group will be the focus group that will be responsible for reviewing and ranking your proposal.
  4. Participants: You will need to have contact information for all individuals who are being proposed as part of the sessions. Current information--including current email addresses and phone numbers-- is required for all individuals. Please note that failure to provide accurate contact information for all parties could of course result in you not receiving information about the status of your proposal. You will also need to confirm that anyone listed as a participant on the panel is aware of their participation.

Multidisciplinary Submission Guidelines

  1. Please contact both Focus Group Conference Planners prior to submitting your proposal, so that you can ensure sponsorship of the program. A listing of Focus Group Conference Planners can be found here. It is important that they know what proposals are coming their way, so we encourage you to contact them prior to submitting your proposal. Contacting them, however does not guarantee that your proposal will get into the conference.
  2. One or more individuals may present in a session, so consider a partner or a few individuals if you feel it will enhance your content and delivery. Your Focus Group Planner is a great resource for this.
  3. Multidisciplinary Sessions can have a maximum of (2) Focus Group Sponsors. There will be a primary sponsor and a secondary sponsor.
  4. The Primary Two Focus Groups you list as your sponsoring focus group will be the focus groups that will be responsible for reviewing and ranking your proposal. You may list an additional group (meaning a third focus group or committee) as a secondary sponsor, but that additional group will not be sent the proposal for ranking. ONLY the first two focus groups listed--the ones therefore indicated as your primary MD proposal sponsors--will be sent the proposal for ranking. Please keep that in mind as you indicate sponsoring groups. Two groups will rank your proposal. A third group you list will only be indicated as an additional sponsor in the program, but that third group will not rank your proposal.
  5. Participants: You will need to have contact information for all individuals who are being proposed as part of the sessions. Current information--including current email addresses and phone numbers-- is required for all individuals. Please note that failure to provide accurate contact information for all parties could of course result in you not receiving information about the status of your proposal. You will also need to confirm that anyone listed as a participant on the panel is aware of their participation.

Audio Visual Requests

If you do request audio or visual aids--particularly an LCD Screen and/or sound equipment--please be aware of the following: In order to schedule as many excellent Focus Group sessions as possible your session may be scheduled in a room without any audio or visual aids available. You will need to confirm in the proposal whether or not you would be willing to present this session if the requested audio visual is not available. Please understand that, if you say you are unwilling to present without and audio visual aids, that information can affect proposal acceptance negatively if your session is ranked in the middle range of proposals by your focus group.

Each Session is automatically granted ONE audio or visual aid IF ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ITEMS IS SELECTED NOW. Please be aware that we will likely be unable to add AV later in the process. The possible audio and visual aids from which you could choose include the following:

  • Audio for Laptop/Speaker
  • CD Player
  • Flip Chart
  • LCD Projector (this does NOT include sound)

You are able to request additional audio or visual aids; however, the sponsoring Focus Group will be responsible for the charge or you can apply for a grant for additional audio or visual equipment. It is recommended that you apply for a grant after you complete the proposal process. This grant can be applied for here. The deadline is November 1, 2016.

ATHE only provides microphones for sessions scheduled in ballrooms or larger event spaces where ATHE deems microphones are necessary. Due to union rules, presenters and Focus Groups are NOT allowed to bring in their own Audio or Visual Equipment. If you have a question please contact Erin Babarskis, ATHE Conference Planner at erinb@athe.org.

How to Submit a Proposal

We use a simple online form to gather submissions.

All application forms must be received by 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on November 1, 2016. By submitting an application you confirm that you will meet the deadlines below.

November 1, 2016: Deadline for submitting online speaker application form

February 1, 2017: Notification of speaker selection

May 15, 2017: Materials due to your Focus Group Conference Planner:

  • Finalized description of your session for the printed program (no more than 30 words)
  • Finalized title of your session
  • Finalized listing of session participants, paper titles, and institutions for the printed program

June 15, 2017: Speaker Conference Registration

Participants’ names and a description of your session will be included in materials promoting the conference, such as the conference website and brochure given to attendees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I’m still not sure about submitting an idea?
Help is available -- if you have any questions while you are developing your submission, email them to your Focus Group Conference Planner. A listing of Focus Group Conference Planners can be found here.

Can I suggest a topic or recommend a speaker?
If you do not wish to present at the conference yourself, we encourage you to facilitate a Roundtable discussion, or you may suggest a topic or recommend speakers, regardless of whether they are ATHE members or not. Please send your suggestions to to your Focus Group Conference Planner. A listing of Focus Group Conference Planners can be found here. Or, contact Alicia Tafoya, ATHE VP of Conference at: conf2017@athe.org.

What information should I know about the organization and about the conference to ensure my topic would be a good fit?
The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) mission is: To support and advance the study and practice of theatre and performance in higher education.

The association’s goals include:

  • Promote theatre as an essential component in higher education and as a lifelong tool for learning.
  • Position ATHE as a global participant within higher education.
  • Continue to develop strategic and sustainable partnerships to advocate for and advance the study of theatre and performance in higher education.
  • Support the professional development of ATHE members.
  • Develop strategies for sustaining the administrative and organizational viability of ATHE.
  • Continue to diversify participation in every facet of the organization including membership, programming, scholarship and governance.

A non-profit organization, ATHE is an advocate for the field of theatre and performance in higher education. ATHE serves as an intellectual and artistic center for producing new knowledge about theatre and performance-related disciplines, cultivating vital alliances with other scholarly and creative disciplines, linking with professional and community-based theatres, and promoting access and equity.

Thank you for your interest in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the 2017 Annual Conference. For additional information or to suggest a topic or speaker, please email Alicia Tafoya, Vice President for Conference 2017 at: conf2017@athe.org.

2017 ATHE Conference Selection Committee

The Conference Committee curates key aspects of the annual gathering, including plenary sessions, keynote speaker, paid workshops, and determining the schedule of panels.

Alicia Tafoya, Our Lady of the Lake University, Vice President for Conference 2017
Baron Kelly, University of Louisville
Ruth Palileo, Current Theatrics
Barbara Parisi, Long Island University
Tom Robson, Millikin University
Chase Waites, Lone Star College-Montgomery
Greg White, University of Central Oklahoma
Harvey Young, Northwestern University

2016 Association for Theatre in Higher Education. All rights reserved.
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