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ATHE 2020: Driving Towards Connection - An Update on the Virtual Conference

Thursday, May 14, 2020  
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We know that many of you have been asking about ATHE’s upcoming conference, and our plans to take Detroit 2020 to the virtual space. Much like the transitions many of you have been managing from studio to ZOOM, we’re trying to figure out how a change like this affects all the various components that we value from our annual meeting. From evaluating software platforms to pivoting on plenary offerings, the Conference and Operations Committees have been working hard across these questions. Focus Group Representatives and Conference Planners have been key to these processes as well.

ATHE is committed to hosting a virtual conference that will support the multiple needs of our members, including responding to the present moment; providing space for presentation and feedback; and conducting the annual business of the organization.

While there are still quite a few things to be solidified, here’s what details we do know:

Dates: The conference will include material over two weeks: July 20-25 and July 27-August 1. Focus Group and Committee business meetings will be spread out between Monday and Wednesday and concurrent sessions will be programmed between Thursday - Saturday, with the bulk of conference taking part during the pre-scheduled conference meeting. We don’t expect anyone to join for all the time, and we’re anticipating that some material may be accessible to conference attendees asynchronously to allow you to engage as you wish. 

All-Conference Programming: The conference committee is working diligently on plenaries that address our current moment to help ATHE members prepare for a very different future in our classrooms this fall. Information on the call for participation can be found on the 2020 Conference page.

Focus Group Meetings: We understand each focus group and standing committee needs to have a business/membership meeting, and we’ll be scheduling those on a virtual platform throughout the two weeks so that everyone interested can attend. 

Concurrent Sessions: At this time, we’d like to make sure that everyone who wants to move forward with their previously scheduled panel has the opportunity to present, with a variety of options depending on what will work best for each, including pre-recorded sessions or a live webinar format with Q&A.

Published Program Book: As an additional element of support to our members, the full conference program will be available online with the list of all accepted presentations. This year, the program will be accompanied with a letter from the organization detailing how the pandemic necessitated the change in format. The letter, which can be used in tenure & promotion materials, will outline how acceptance into the conference represents a significant contribution to the field by the accepted presenter.

Cost: While ATHE understands the perception that a virtual conference does not warrant the same type of registration fees as an in-person environment, the conference still incurs cost to ATHE. Self-selected registration fees will range between $25-$100, based on current ATHE membership categories; debut panelists will be provided with complimentary registration. We’re also hoping to have an option available for those who can afford to and would be interested to “sponsor” another attendee. Any contribution will appear on your receipt as part of your conference registration.

Thank you so much for being patient with us as we work together on the first-ever ATHE virtual conference! While it will never replace meeting with each of you in person, we hope that each of our members will still find a way to connect and share as we do each year together, no matter if we’re socializing at the hotel bar or sitting at our kitchen counters.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at or reach out directly at

© 2020 Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). All rights reserved.
P.O. Box 922 | Santa Cruz, CA 95061 | Phone: 628.222.4088