Call for Sessions: 2020 GIA Conference

Grantmakers in the Arts is currently seeking session proposals for the 2020 GIA Conference in New York City, NY. The GIA Conference is the largest annual convening of arts funders and the most comprehensive opportunity for our colleagues in the field to learn from each other. We greatly value the experience, ideas, and programs that members share with each other and the field at large.

The Remix: Reimagining Power and Practice

Grantmakers in the Arts welcomes you to New York City, where cultural communities act as gateways and anchors, are broad and close-knit, are committed to and grappling with realizing racial equity, and are evolving and recreating their voices – a remix of sorts! Known as a city defined by its many cultures, with more than 800 languages spoken across the five boroughs, there are countless defining characteristics for this city. New York is home to some of the longest-standing museums and the largest Puerto Rican diaspora community, it’s an epicenter of jazz and independent film, the birthplace of salsa, abstract expressionism, and of course hip-hop. Distinctive yet familiar, New York stands alongside so many urban centers facing transience, a crisis of affordability, cycles of displacement, and a legacy of resistance from residents, organizers, artists, and activists. Culture echoes across each borough, each neighborhood demanding need for reconnection to our humanity and reimagining revolutionary relationships with power, narrative, and what it means to be of many places at once. It is here that we see the tremendous inventiveness of New York City, taking the best of disparate elements to make something new, a reinvention, a remix.

Join us this November to connect, share, and learn with artists, colleagues, and peers at the GIA Conference for a distinctly NYC experience.

Submission Logistics

Here is some information that may be useful to know before you submit. Please read carefully.

Conference location: Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel
811 7th Avenue (at West 53rd Street)
New York, NY 10019
Dates: Sunday, November 15 – Wednesday, November 18
Session submissions: Sessions may only be submitted GIA Members
Proposal deadline: Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5pm EDT
Notifications: Starting the first week of May

2020 Conference Session Priorities

Grantmakers in the Arts will continue to foreground its funding focus areas: arts education, capitalization, racial equity, support for individual artists, and funding at the intersection of arts and other portfolios. We also encourage session proposals that explore Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality – exploring the impact of overlaps between identities such as between race, gender, sexuality, disability, and others such as discussions of the #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Just Transition movements and how they manifest in the field of arts and cultural funding.

Grantmakers in the Arts also encourages conference session proposals that speak to our vision for the future of arts grantmaking by:

  • Increasing support to arts and culture through inclusion of arts and culture (i.e. the engagement of non-arts funders);
  • Using arts and culture as a frame to approach social issues;
  • Considering standard funding practices and alternative economies for investment in arts and culture;
  • Discussions emphasizing advocacy and public policy and practice;
  • Engaging foundation presidents and trustees and directors of public agencies as well as public commission members;
  • Showcasing current or emerging trends, innovative, or experimental approaches to grantmaking, and/or creative responses to problems or opportunities facing the cultural community;
  • Highlighting local perspectives that can also be applied to other locations and communities;
  • Including presenters who are artists, organizers, academics, local-knowledge experts, new grantmakers, and non-arts grantmakers who represent diverse perspectives and populations;
  • Demonstrating collaborations among funders or funders and other sectors;
  • Stimulating discussion and debate, challenge conventional thinking, and/or offer different points of view; and
  • Providing practical advice or tips for funders to take back to their workplaces.

Session Formats

Sessions are dialogic and participatory in nature. Sessions may be presented in any of the following formats, each designed to be highly inquisitive, participatory, and actionable.

ON-SITE SESSIONS: On-site sessions take place on Monday and Tuesday mornings and afternoons, and Wednesday mornings at the conference hotel. On-site sessions are allotted a 60- or 90-minute time slot for the session presentation.

OFF-SITE SESSIONS: Off-site breakout sessions take place on Monday and Tuesday afternoon at arts-related venues ideally linked to session content. Off-site sessions are allotted a three-hour time slot that includes, in addition to the session presentation, time for travel to and from the site, site tours, and/or additional site-specific content. Off-site sessions will be co-designed by session organizer(s) and the GIA team. We encourage sessions that feature programs and locations in The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn Deep, and Upper Manhattan.

Interactive Workshops

Duration: 90 minutes

Looking to explore new approaches and leading-edge ideas in the field of arts funding? An interactive workshop – presented by a team of 2-6 facilitators – is designed to engage participants in learning new frameworks, practical approaches and tools, case studies to inform work in your home community, and skills for advancing our collective field-wide work. These workshops can take varied formats including creative inquiry; generative, arts-based practice; break-out discussion; hands-on mapping/analysis; or skill-building; among others.

Panel Dialogues

Duration: 60/90 minutes

A standard, well-developed panel presentation – presented with 2-4 speakers each bringing a variety of experiences/perspectives to the topic – that may feature [1] deep-dive/field-wide conversation, [2] dialogue with peers with different concentrations, geographies, methodologies, etc., or [3] a case study inquiry. Ensure that at least 1/3 of the session time is dedicated to audience engagement (e.g. Q&A, brainstorming, or collaborative problem-solving).

Un-Panel “Fishbowl” Dialogues

Duration: 60 minutes

In this dynamic session style, there are 3-5 speakers who contribute to an engaging dialogue concerned with field-wide issues. Rather than using a panel presentation format, speakers gather in a discussion circle with participants seated in concentric circles around them. This session style allows for deeper conversation amongst speakers while encouraging those in the outside circles to participate in this witnessed conversation by joining the fishbowl.

Round Table Dialogues

Duration: 60 minutes [designed as 15-20 minute rotating table-talks]

Looking for input or feedback on challenges in philanthropic/public funding practice? For subjects that are well suited for a format other than a panel, round table dialogues offer an opportunity for peer-learning on a variety of subjects in quick succession. Each roundtable has a host who puts forward a discussion topic within the theme, after 15-20 minutes, the host remains, and all others move to another table. Dialogue continues for three rounds followed by a final share out by hosts.

Dialogues are facilitated by practitioners, organized by focus area, and encourage peer exchange to share common experiences, challenges, approaches, and solutions. These sessions may be organized by the conference planning team to couple similar topics within a shared space.

How to Propose Conference Sessions

  1. Review the GIA Conference Session Guidelines.
  2. Log in to your account on the GIA website and select the 2020 Conference Proposal Form link on the left. Submit the form no later than Friday, April 10. For assistance with user accounts, click the Create new account or Request new password links on the login page or contact Yessica Corporán at
  3. After the conference committee has selected the sessions, we will contact session organizers individually to ask for more details. The staff and conference committee will work with session organizers, as appropriate, to identify any local resources needed.

Session Costs

Members proposing and organizing sessions pay their own costs associated with attending the conference and are asked to pay the transportation and lodging expenses for their non-member presenters. GIA will pay all membership-ineligible session presenters a $200 honorarium and cover their one-day speaker registration. Once sessions have been accepted, conference staff will work with each organizer to coordinate session details.

Remember: The session proposal deadline is 5 PM EDT on Friday, April 10, 2020. If you have further questions, contact Sherylynn Sealy at or (929) 452-3740.