The theme of this year’s Performing Arts Managers Conference was “Risk;” fitting, as the location of the conference was in Las Vegas, which is probably one of the last places one wants to come down with the flu.
As we all know, the flu strains have been especially robust this year and massive outbreaks were happening throughout the country. As it turns out, reports came out February 21 that the flu shot was, in fact, only 56% effective, and even less so (27%) for those 65 years and older. Those statistics made me feel a bit better about not getting the flu shot myself. Catching the flu can sometimes simply be a matter of chance, regardless of whether you are vaccinated, but disappointing nonetheless when it causes one to miss a day and half worth of sessions at one’s favorite conference.
One bright spot is the fact that nearly all of the sessions were recorded and, since I did attend the conference, these recordings will be free for me. Although it was difficult seeing the amazing Facebook posts from my friends and colleagues while they were at the Zarkana Theatre learning about the Cirque du Soleil business model or out playing later that night, I was relieved to find out that I still have the opportunity to learn from these sessions.
It won’t be the same, though. Of course, the best part of attending PAMC—and any IAVM conference or meeting for that matter—is the face-to-face interaction that no amount of technology can duplicate. That’s why we all do what we do, right? We believe in the value of being in the same physical space as others to experience performances, sporting events, or learn from those we respect, both the presenters and fellow audience members. We reconnect, swap stories, share lessons learned . . . all of which enrich us both professionally and personally.
Fortunately, I did get to take part in the most interactive portion of the conference: the traditional first-day PAMC session entitled “Boot Camp.” This year’s daylong Boot Camp was themed “Putting the ‘i’ in Your iPad.” For the rest of the attendees, though, this was unfortunate as it was probably the one session during which my germs spread the most, both from all the handshaking as I greeted friends I hadn’t seen since VenueConnect and from all the hands-on exercises Boot Camp is famous for.
Also, as luck would have it, the two Town Hall sessions flanked the worst part of my illness, so I was able to take part in both (albeit from the back of the room). Aptly led this year by Robyn Williams, with support by Ron Probst and Larry Henley, it was again made obvious that the topics that are on the top of our minds are the safety of our audience, ADA, maximizing profits, sustainability, and, of course, concessions. As always, I took the most notes at these sessions and I am thankful that I was healthy enough to attend them both.
For any other PAMC attendee who caught the flu or for any other reason missed a session or two, the recorded sessions will be free for you to download in early March. For those that were not able to attend this year’s PAMC, you did miss some amazing presentations, and these will also be available to you through IAVM Online Learning Center for purchase.
PAMC is truly my favorite IAVM conference I attend each year. It is always content-rich and I always come home with more ideas than I know what to do with. I always have a tremendous amount of fun and I look forward to being able to learn even more and have even more fun next year when I will be (knock on wood) healthy and happy to be in Kansas City!
Written by Maria Talbert, IAVM Member since 2003