5 min

“TLCC is like coming into port 

 where we can learn, grow, refuel, and help each other navigate the waters before we all return,” said one attendee of the 2019 Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC2019). 

Close to 2,000 Tessitura community members from 400 organizations across the globe attended TLCC2019, a record number for the annual event. The largest annual cross-genre, cross-function arts and cultural conference in the world, TLCC brings together users of Tessitura's unified CRM platform and is supported by a range of sponsor organizations. This year's conference took place at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center from July 28 to August 1.

“This is like a mini-MBA in Tessitura.”

The conference offered more than 200 sessions over the five days under the over-arching theme of “Inspire. Engage. Unify.” In addition, attendees added 183 Open Space Discussions to the agenda. With many sessions focusing on accessibility and inclusion, conference participants asked hard questions and challenged the status quo.

“This is like a mini-MBA in Tessitura,” said Barb Whang of The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. “You’re coming for rich content, for collaboration, for networking, for idea sharing, for blue-skying. And then going forth, you now have others with you going forward, facing the same challenges together and collaborating.”

“When you come to the conferences and you meet the community, you see what other people have done to evolve and to change,” said Liz Baird, Head of Customer Relations at the Wales Millennium Centre. “It always challenges you and inspires you to make the next step.” 

Tessitura Network community members convened 183 Open Space Discussions at TLCC2019 

Tessitura Network CEO and Co-Founder Jack Rubin opened the conference with “Disruption by Design, Innovation by Necessity.” Discussing challenges that arts and cultural organizations face, Jack asked three questions of leaders from Tessitura Network’s Chicago community: How are you disrupting your art form? How are you reinventing yourselves to be relevant in 2019, 2020 and beyond? How are you innovating in your field?

In the Company Update, “Propel,” Senior Vice Presidents Chuck Reif and Kristin Darrow, along with President Andrew Recinos, reflected on key milestones in Tessitura Network’s evolution and looked to the future direction of the company’s technology and community. In highlighting some significant upcoming developments, Reif said: “The growth of the Network and the expansion of our software has given us opportunity this year to reevaluate the ways in which we design, produce and deliver our technology.” 

Wrapping up the talk, Recinos noted, “We are a network of 664 organizations in 10 countries. We estimate that 20,000 cultural professionals consider themselves part of our #tessnet community. Can you think of any organized community devoted to arts and culture with more reach and alignment than we have?” 

“Can you think of any organized community devoted to arts and culture with more reach and alignment than we have?”
— Andrew Recinos

Andrew Recinos, Kristin Darrow and Chuck Reif deliver the Company Update, “Propel” at TLCC2019. 

Respected speaker, researcher, and entrepreneur Sina Bahram challenged arts and cultural professionals to use principles from universal and inclusive design to open up buildings, content, programming, and experiences. In his passionate keynote address, “Welcoming the Widest Possible Audience,” Bahram shared examples and success stories of accessible and inclusive design. Noting that more than one billion people in the world have some form of disability, he reminded attendees that “inclusion can lead to innovation.” 

“Inclusion can lead to innovation.”
— Sina Bahram

TLCC2019 Keynote Speaker Sina Bahram delivering “Welcoming the Widest Possible Audience.”

TLCC was the birthplace of Tessitura’s Innovator Series, an ongoing program of brief talks by arts and culture industry innovators. The series is produced by Kristen Olson, Vice President of Learning and Thought Leadership. This year's conference featured three inspiring speakers from the Tessitura Network community. 

Nicole Smith, Manager of Volunteer and Internship Services at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, opened the Wednesday morning Innovator Series session with “Truly Integrating Volunteers and Interns Into Your Organization.” Smith shared how the concept of ubuntu — “I am, because we are” — is permeating the work of the Arsht Center, leading to more meaningful volunteer and internship programs. “It became clear to me that genuinely caring about our volunteers and fellow colleagues, especially through major change, plays a big role in our success,” Smith said.

In “Creating a State of the Imagination Theater,” Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Executive Director Criss Henderson and Director of Production Chris Plevin told the story of flexible theater space, The Yard, an exciting addition to theater architecture to America. Its dynamic design features nine mobile audience “towers” that can be arranged in an infinite variety of ways, with audience capacities ranging from 150 to 850. “With each stage and seating configuration, audiences experience the space anew every time they walk through the doors of the theater. The robust power of Tessitura makes the constant changing of the seating locations and capacity manageable —and this flexibility allows us the best possible experience for our patrons,” said Henderson.

Daisy Swift, Learning Director at London’s Wigmore Hall, demonstrated how the arts have the power to enrich our lives, connect us, and empower us, in her talk “Music for Life: The Power of Creativity for People Living With Dementia.” Swift explained that with the number of people living with dementia set to reach 80 million within the next decade, it is ever-important for arts and cultural organizations to play their part in enabling their rich, fulfilling lives. “The arts are more than just a ‘nice to have’; they are a human right,” she said.

Four people stand on a stage, smiling and looking relaxed.

TLCC2019 Innovator Series speakers Criss Henderson, Chris Plevin, Nicole Smith and Daisy Swift 

A record number of sponsors contributed to the success of TLCC2019. Both the Sponsor Zone and 10-Minute Partners sessions offered opportunities for the diverse range of industry partners to educate conference attendees about their products, services and new developments. 

At the closing session of TLCC2019, Tessitura Network Conference Chair and Vice President of Community Don Youngberg thanked the leadership and members of the User Planning Committee. He acknowledged the many presenters, panelists, session planners, and facilitators who contributed to the conference content, as well as all the Tessitura Network community members who took part.

Melanie Evans, Guest Services Director at Mystic Aquarium, echoed the responses of many who attended TLCC2019: “For me this is a huge re-energization of my year. The number of ideas that you can come back with can sustain you for the whole year until the next conference.”


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