2019 Conference and Symposium Planner

Whether you're looking for professional development, tapping sector trends or seeking to rub shoulders with cultural entrepreneurs, ArtsHub's 2019 Conference Planner maps out what's on offer.
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Often we hear about an intriguing conference or a great workshop too late – the short notice making it hard to seize that professional development opportunity.

ArtsHub makes it easier for you to get your diary in order for 2019 with this list of talks, workshops, symposiums and conferences that promise to take the sector’s pulse, highlight the latest trends, forecast the future, and offer better strategies for success.

Please note that dates for some events, such as the Australian Theatre Forum 2019, and the Australia Council’s 2019 Marketing, Communications and Ticketing Summit, are not yet available.


TALKS: MPavilion

MPavilion’s program continues until 8 February 2018, before packing up and reprogramming to return in October for its next edition. MPavilion is described as a civic space and cultural laboratory; a meeting place in which to experiment with ideas. It is presented by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

Dates: Catch it before 11 February

Venue: Queen Victoria Gardens

Visit & Book: mpavilion.org

Xiao Lu, One, performance, 5 September 2015, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Photograph by Lin Qijian, courtesy Xiao Lu; courtesy 4A

TALKS:  Art and Activism: Changing the Conversation

Prominent Chinese artist Xiao Lu appears in conversation with Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch to discuss her solo exhibition Impossible Dialogue. This talk is focused on how art can be a platform for championing important debate – ultimately, reframing conversation and changing minds.

Dates: Sunday, 20 January, 12.00-1.00pm

Venue: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, 181-187 Hay Street, Haymarket

Visit & Book: www.4a.com.au/art-activism-changing-conversation/

CONFERENCE: NVAEC 2019 – National Visual Art Education Conference

With the theme, ‘At the Heart: Inspiration, Bravery, Compassion and Connection,’ the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) presents its fourth National Visual Art Education Conference. At NVAEC in 2019 we are asking: What is at the heart of art education? We believe teachers are at the heart. Teachers are the heartbeat, they are art advocates, they are art tragics, they are passionate. They are brave, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and they keep students at the centre. The conference program in 2019 will offer opportunities for teachers of all levels of schooling as well as artists and educators from the museum and gallery sector to explore a broad range of current issues in visual art education.

Dates: 21 – 23 January 2019

Venue: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Visit & Registration: nga.gov.au/nvaec

TALKS: In Dialogue: Gender + Art in Asia

This international workshop, coinciding with the exhibition Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue (4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney), brings together artists, art critics and art historians to discuss the situation of gender and art in China, as well as in Indonesia and Singapore. The workshop will begin with a viewing of performance art works by Xiao Lu, followed by short presentations and group discussion.

Dates: Wednesday, 30 January, 2pm – 5pm

Venue: Buxton Contemporary, University of Melbourne

Visit & Book: www.4a.com.au/dialogue-gender-art-asia


CONFERENCE: ICACM 2019: 21st International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management

ICACM 2019: 21st International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Arts and Cultural Management. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Arts and Cultural Management.

Dates: 1-2 February

Venue: Melbourne, Australia

Visit & Register: waset.org/conference/2019/02/melbourne/ICACM

TALKS: Please Explain: Gender + Art in China

The first Please Explain panel for 2019 reflects on Xiao Lu’s practice and examines the representation and misrepresentation of gender in contemporary Chinese art. Considering exhibition histories both nationally within China and internationally as part of the wider art community the panel will debate and dissect how museological and curatorial structures have contributed to how gender has been portrayed in contemporary art from China.

Date: Saturday 2 February, 2019, 2pm – 3.30pm

Venue: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, 181-187 Hay Street, Haymarket

Visit & Book: www.4a.com.au

Cassils, Becoming An Image Performance Still No. 3 (National Theater Studio, SPILL Festival, London), 2013. Photo: Cassils with Manuel Vason (22 x 30 inches). Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.

TALKS: The body as social sculpture

In their first visit to Australia, the MCA will present Los Angeles–based performance artist, bodybuilder and transgender icon Cassils. Drawing from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to social expectations, Cassils uses their own body as artistic material. Cassils eludes binary gender categories and understands and embodies transgender, not as a crossing from one gender to another, but rather as a continual process of becoming, as a form of embodiment that works in a space of indeterminacy and ambiguity.

Date: Saturday 2 February, 2019, 2pm – 3.30pm

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Visit & Tickets: www.mca.com.au/whats-on/body-social-sculpture/

Cassils’ travel to Australia is supported by the Perth Festival

CONFERENCE: 2019 AusGlass Conference

The 2019 Ausglass Conference will be held in conjunction with NZSAG in New Zealand. In addition to this, AusGlass are planning a series of ‘satellite’ events in Australia for those who are unable to make the trip across “the ditch”.

Dates: 15 – 17 February

Venue: Whanganui, New Zealand

Visit & Register: www.ausglass.org.au


CONFERENCE: Australian International Documentary Conference

Are you a documentary film maker? Then this is the conference for you. With a focus on international co-production and co-financing, AIDC 2019 will see guests and delegates looking beyond borders and taking a big picture view of global opportunities in the documentary and factual market. This outward looking perspective sees Diane Weyermann, President of Documentary Film & Television at Participant Media, a company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change, as AIDC 2019’s first major guest. She was the Executive Producer on the seminal films An Inconvenient Truth, Citizenfour, Food Inc. and America To Me. AIDC 2019 kicks off with two major sessions: Working with the USA and Nordic Focus.

Dates: 3-6 March

Venue: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne.

Visit & Register: www.aidc.com.au

TALKS: Celebrating Difference

Over a long weekend, the MCA will present a program of events, talks, tours and workshops on Celebrating Difference, with particular focus around ideas of access and inclusion.

Dates: 9 & 10 March 2019

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney

Visit: www.mca.com.au

SYMPOSIUM: All About Women

For the seventh year running, Sydney Opera House’s talks and ideas festival All About Women returns to celebrate International Women’s Day. Be inspired and challenged by remarkable guests discussing the latest thinking are: Manning Up; women in hip hop, China’s feminist five, me too year two, feminism in the Arab world, toxic masculinity, and more. All about women is a vibrant day that asks questions about gender, justice and equality.

Date: 10 Mar 2019

Venue: Sydney Opera House, NSW

Visit & Book: www.sydneyoperahouse.com

CONFERENCE: The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2019

With the theme “Reclaiming the Future”, The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2019 (ACAH2019) is presented in Japan this year. It describes:  ‘We live in a period characterised by rises in regionalism, nationalism and authoritarianism; a time of great global uncertainty and anxiety, as well as inequality and iniquity which both reflects and drives political divide, and undermines international systems of cooperation. Clashes of identities, beliefs and ideologies are evident in academia, media and the arts, contributing to a feeling that humanity is spiralling out of control; that our relationships with each other, as well as with the earth and environment, have never been worse. Yet, as humans, we are not conditioned by fear alone, but instead by a remarkable ingenuity, and a capacity for hope, self-reflection, activism and action. This agency to improve our own lives, and those of others, is the theme of this international conference, inviting us to consider the ways in which we contextualise and process the past, reimagining ourselves, our relationships, and our environments; driving positive change and reclaiming the future as a time we look towards with hope, and even optimism.’

Dates: 29 – 31 March

Venue: Tokyo, Japan

Visit & Book: acah.iafor.org

WORKSHOP: STEAM for secondary teachers

Get a handle on and learn strategies for teaching science, maths and engineering through the lens of art in your classroom. Experience contemporary art and find out how art can extend learning and engagement of concepts from the digital technologies in the Australian curriculum, such as computational and algorithmic thinking. Experiment with both technology and every day materials to design fun learning activities that challenge and extend students’ creative capacities in STEM. NESA accreditation

Date: 29 March 2019, 9am – 3pm

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Visit & Register: www.mca.com.au


CONFERENCE: MuseumNext Australia

MuseumNext will be returning to Australia in 2019 for a two-day conference – the third time that the international conference will be held in Australia. Museum professionals from around the globe with travel to Sydney to ponder this year’s theme, ‘The Playful Museum’. What role does play have in the modern museum, how do you engage audiences with play and how can technology create new playful experience?

Dates: 1 – 2 April

Venue: Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney.

Visit & Register: www.museumnext.com

SUMMIT: REMIX Sydney 2019

REMIX Summits bring together pioneers from different industries to explore the future of culture, creative cities and the creative economy. A unique forum where creative leaders from different industries can exchange insights, ideas and work together towards common goals.

Dates: 11-12 April

Venue: UTS Great Hall, University of Technology, Sydney.

Visit: www.remixsummits.com/syd


After successfully launching in April last year, the Sherman Centre for Culture & Ideas (SCCI) returns again in 2019 with Fashion and Architecture Hubs for conversation. Dr Gene Sherman, Founder and Executive Director of SCCI, said, ‘Our aim is to provide a vibrant platform for the exchange of the most challenging and engaging ideas on architecture and fashion, within the broader context of culture.’  A mix of headline speakers anchor the first iteration of the SCCI Fashion Hub program, which encompasses more than 40 separate events. Hailing from complimented by a Deep Dive Forum into the topic through the prism of words, ethics and craftsmanship, the Hubs are presented across multiple venues.  

Dates: SCCI Fashion Hub – April (dates to be confirmed)

Dates: SCCI Architecture Hub – October (dates to be confirmed)

Venues: SCCI Foundation, Paddington (NSW) and other Sydney venues

Visit: scci.org.au

Vivid Ideas 2018: Future Fashion


TALKS: VIVID Ideas 2019

Vivid is a festival of Ideas, Light and Music presented by Destination NSW in partnership with the City of Sydney across key venues. It is the largest festival of its kind in the world. Alongside the spectacular site-responsive light works, a month long program of panel talks, masterclasses and keynote speakers is presented, which has garnered its own reputation for innovative thinking.

Dates: May to  June.

Venue: Sydney, various venues

Visit: www.vividsydney.com

CONFERENCE: Museums Galleries Australia National Conference

Combining elements of their most recent conferences that focused on Museums and Galleries in their Cultural Landscapes (Brisbane 2017) and Museums and Galleries as Agents of Change (Melbourne 2018), in 2019 this peak organisation will travel to the geographical centre of the nation to tackle some of the biggest thematic areas that occupy much of our national conversation – how Museums and Galleries are situated in relation to our communities and the impact of place. The conference has been timed to close with the contemporary Aboriginal desert art fair – Desert Mob MarketPlace – a signature event in Central Australia that brings together Desart-member art centres from remote communities across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. Delegates will also be able to explore the majesty and wonder of the Central Australian landscape (with cultural tours and opportunities for day/weekend trips to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and other incredible places).

Dates: 13-17 May

Venue: Alice Springs, NT

Visit & Register: mga2019.org.au

TALKS: Semi Permanent 2019

Semi Permanent brings together internationally creative thinkers and renowned leaders to share their work and insights over three days at Carriageworks. The event that has brought you Banksy, Oliver Stone, Paula Scher, Radiohead and more is happening again in Sydney this May, part of Vivid Ideas. In 2019 Semi Permanent will be tackling the theme of TRUTH – What does the truth mean beyond our immediate environment? How might we scale the power of design to a truly global level, instilling positive change in areas we didn’t think it could touch? How we can overcome those forces that seek to blur the line between certainty and truth? Or is the truth always a necessary ingredient on the path to success? 

Dates: 23-25 May

Venue: Carriageworks, Sydney (NSW)

Visit & Book: https://www.semipermanent.com/events/sydney-2019


TALKS: MCA Conversation Starters

The third iteration of MCA’s Conversation Starters – a program of art, ideas and questions – will take inspiration from key themes of artist Janet Laurence’s exhibition: climate change, conservation and extinction, human-animal-plant interaction, and ecology. Be part of the conversation and make and impact for change.

Dates: 1 – 2 June

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney

Visit: www.mca.com.au

WORKSHOP: STEAM for primary teachers

Targeted for primary teacher, this workshop is about learning strategies for teaching science, maths and engineering through the lens of art in your classroom. Experience contemporary art and find out how art can extend learning and engagement of concepts from the digital technologies in the Australian curriculum, such as computational and algorithmic thinking.

Date: 7 June 2019, 9am – 3pm

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Visit & Register: www.mca.com.au

CONFERENCE: International Conference on The Arts in Society

The 14th International Conference on the Arts in Society features research addressing the following annual themes: arts education, art theory and history, new media technology and the arts, and social and political agendas. The 2019 Special Focus is “Art as Communication: The Impact of Art as a Catalyst for Social Change”.

Dates: 19 – 21 June

Venue: Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon, Portugal

Details: artsinsociety.com/2019-conference

SYMPOSIA: 4A Annual Symposium

4A will collaborate with the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian National University to deliver its annual symposium, this year held to coincide with Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia at the NGA. This gathering of academics, artists, curators, writers and commentators will examine the diversity and complexity of contemporary Indonesian practice.

Dates: 21 June

Venue: National Gallery of Australia

Visit & Register: www.4a.com.au/

SYMPOSIUM: ISEA 2019 Symposium

The 25th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2019) will be held this year in Gwangju, South Korea. ISEA is one of the world’s most prominent international arts and technology events, bringing together scholarly, artistic, and scientific domains in an interdisciplinary discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in art, interactivity, and electronic and digital media.  With the theme Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) – a topic inspired by the literal meaning of the host city Gwangju, “City of Light” – this year’s symposium includes subcategories embracing complex themes that allow open interpretations in culture, science, and history

Dates: 22-28 June

Venue: Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea

Visit & Register: isea2019.isea-international.org/

CONFERENCE: AIMAC 2019: International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management

The 15th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management AIMAC 2019 will be hosted by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in Italy this year. It will be supported by MACLab Management of Arts and Culture Lab, Department of Management. Since the first edition in 1991, the AIMAC biennial conference has always provided a unique forum for reflecting on and defining the management of arts and culture today. AIMAC is the oldest and largest association dedicated to the management of arts and culture, and the first to have recognized the importance of professionalizing management in the expanding domain of culture. The idea that nowadays the cultural dimension plays a fundamental role in the process of creating value, is what drives the 15th AIMAC Conference. Cultural productions and creative activities are increasingly important for the economy and should consequently be taken into account in the decision-making processes aimed at fostering economic growth. This is the fourth time that the AIMAC conference includes its successful doctoral symposium in its conference program. We welcome submissions from all over the world. Applicants from a broad range of disciplines and approaches are encouraged to submit.

Dates: 23-26 June

Venue: The Maclab Management of Arts and Culture Lab, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Visit & Register: aimac2019.com/


No dates listed at time of publishing.


TALKS & SYMPOSIUM: Antidote Festival

Antidote is a festival of ideas, art and action. It builds on the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, which it replaced in 2017. Every speaker and artist has put their reputation (and in some cases body) on the line, fighting for what they believe in. They’ve used their art, thinking and attitude to create the change they want to see in the world.

Date: September (details yet to be released)

Venue: Sydney Opera House, NSW

For tickets and details: Antidote Festival

TALKS: SYMPOSIA: The Big Anxiety

The Big Anxiety returns in 2019 afters its inaugural success last year. This festival of arts + science + people, brings together artists, scientists and communities to question and re-imagine the state of mental health in the 21st century

Dates: late September

Venue: UNSW Art & Design, Sydney

Visit: www.thebiganxiety.org/

CONFERENCE: National Youth Arts Summit

Building on the momentum of the National Youth Arts Summit 2017, Adelaide’s Carclew is making plans to host a third summit, expanded to occur over two days. Day 1 of the Summit will be handed over to young creatives (under 30). They will drive and deliver the agenda and conversations. Day 2 will be an opportunity for all professional arts organisations, cultural leaders, artists, young creatives and policy makers who work in the arena of arts engagement for children and young people, to gather and discuss ideas and issues pertinent to the sector as a whole.

Dates: 12-13 September

Venue: Carclew

Visit: carclew.com.au


CONFERENCE: ArtState 2019

Artstate is a four-year program of conversations, partnerships and opportunities for regional artists and arts organisations – 2019 will be the third edition following previous events in Lismore and Bathurst. Its aim is to demonstrate the vibrancy of the arts sector in regional areas through a stimulating and inspiring two-day conference program alongside an exciting and diverse arts program that will feature a selection of regional NSW creatives.Tamworth has been named the host city for 2019. Artstate is produced by Regional Arts NSW in partnership with the network of fourteen Regional Arts Development Organisations.

Dates: 31 October – 3 November

Venue: Tamworth, NSW

Visit & Register: www.artstate.com.au


TALKS: Sydney Sculpture Symposium

What has become the largest signature sculpture event in Australia, Sculpture by the Sea returns to its foremost location in Bondi, from 4 October – 10 November 2019 for its 22nd edition.

Dates: November

Venue: Sydney Opera House

Visit & Book: sculpturebythesea.com

CONFERENCE: Communicating the Arts

Agenda returns to Australia in 2019 with a rebranding of its iconic global conference series Communicating the Museum – as Communicating the Arts – now bringing in a mix of art types including performing arts. It explains: ‘Over the past 10 years, museums’ missions have shifted – they are social spaces and more engaged with their audiences. As such, museum communicators are more involved than ever with education and public engagement strategies. Artistic programs are diversifying, spaces are being redeveloped to become more open and welcoming. There is a mixing of arts types, with performing artists as well as visual artists increasingly involved. We are also in an age of experiences – programs, events and festivals are in demand within and outside the museum walls. These changes lead us to our natural development.’  Three conferences will be presented over 2019 – Copenhagen, Montreal and Sydney – with the Sydney theme focused on leadership.

Dates: 12-14 November 2019

Venue: Sydney

Visit & Register: www.agendacom.com/news/introducing-communicating-arts/


No dates listed at time of publishing.

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