About the Dinner-Vention

The Dinner-Vention is the invention of Barry’s Blog editor and former California Arts Council director Barry Hessenius, in collaboration with Shannon Daut, former executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts. The term Dinner-Vention was crafted to reflect the richness of a good dinner conversation and the critical need for an intervention to help the field move forward in order to succeed in a changing environment. 

2014 Dinner-Vention

The 2014 event took place on October 9 and was hosted by Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery in Denver’s RiNo (River North) Art District. The project received significant publicity throughout the nonprofit arts sector and sparked strong interest in the field.

2014 Participants

  • John Arroyo, PhD Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Laura Bond, Director of Community and Media Relations, Colorado Symphony
  • Rachel Grossman, Co-Founder, dog & pony dc
  • Karina Mangu-Ward, Director of Activating Motivation, EmcArts
  • Ebony McKinney, Consultant
  • Ron Ragin, Program Officer, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
  • Sanjit Sethi, Executive Director, Santa Fe Art Institute
  • Sixto Wagan, Director, Center for Arts Leadership, University of Houston

2014 Discussion Topic: Broken Models–Picking Up the Pieces and Moving Forward

  • BIG issues facing the nonprofit arts field.
  • From the issue of equity (particularly in funding allocation), to finding an income model that will sustain our organizations;
  • From meeting the ongoing challenge of audience decline, to managing our attempts at generational succession and leadership preparation;
  • From figuring out how to effectively make our case to decision makers, stakeholders, the media and the public, to grappling with our research agenda and model;
  • From applying placemaking so as to make it effective, to exploring community engagement as a way to address a myriad of challenges;
  • From information overload, to questioning our communication strategies and even assumptions;
  • From moving forward to offer arts education to all the nation’s students, to moving forward in the intersections of art and health care, art and science and art and corporate America.
  • From finally developing real working partnerships with our stakeholders, to uniting the various factions in our universe.

Click here to view video from the 2014 Dinner-Vention.

2013 Dinner-Vention

The 2013 event took place on September 6 and was at Djerassi Resident Artists Program facilities in Woodside, California. Margot Knight, a former WESTAF trustee and current director of the Djerassi organization, made the Djerassi location and co-sponsorship possible. The Dinner-Vention was created and organized by Barry Hessenius (of Barry’s Blog), Shannon Daut, Executive Director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and WESTAF. The organizers used a small national advisory committee to select the participants.

2013 Participants

  • Salvador Acevedo, President, Contemporànea
  • Tamara Alvardao, Director of Community Access and Engagement, School of Arts and Culture
  • Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Director of Performing Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  • Kimberly Howard, Trust Manager, Oregon Cultural Trust
  • Lex Leifheit, Executive Director, SOMArts
  • Clayton Lord, Vice President for Local Advancement, Americans for the Arts
  • Nina Simon, Director, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History
  • Devon Smith, Director of Social Media and Analytics, Threespot
  • Kristin Thomson, Consultant, Future of Music Coalition
  • Margy Waller, Senior Fellow, Topos Partnership 
  • Meiyin Wang, Associate Artistic Producer, Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival 
  • Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts

2013 Discussion Topic:

Traditional audiences are declining and participation patterns are shifting seismically, which is having a deleterious impact on arts organization’s traditional revenue streams. How can we address this pattern on a macro scale? What would a new movement around the arts look like? In any discussion of that topic, issues of:

  • The theory of engagement (community or otherwise)
  • Equity
  • Research, metrics and data
  • Issues of technology and access to art

To find more information on the 2013 Dinner-Vention, visit Barry’s Blog. 

Click here to view all video from the 2013 Dinner-Vention.