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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

When USITT members attend the Annual Conference & Stage Expo, they are already receiving a substantial discount over the regular registration pricing for more than 200 parties, sessions, labs and Stage Expo.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

Getting A Good Value

David Grindle
Executive Director

They wanted $895 to attend a three-day conference about managing non-profits. The irony did not escape me, nor my 11 year-old son.

“I thought non-profits didn’t have that kind of money,” said he to me.

Needless to say, I couldn’t see the rationale behind the expense, but it did make me think about what you get when you register for USITT’s Annual Conference & Stage Expo, and registration will be opening soon online (

If you are reading Sightlines, chances are you are a member, so you are paying the member rate. That is already a discount on the actual cost of the Conference. It may not seem like it, but I assure you it is. So what does that Conference registration break into?

Convention center rental is not an insignificant amount of money. With 180 or more individual sessions, we need rooms in convention centers and hotels, so we frequently must book the entire place.

While the Institute owns some of the projectors and many people bring their presentations on laptops, we still must provide many more pieces of computer and AV equipment. Also, there are mics that must be rented along with mixers, screens, even the internet connections for the CyberCafes at Stage Expo.

The convention industry is one with exclusive providers, so there is no bidding of services; we pay the rate established by the convention center. Have you ever wondered why our conference isn’t in New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco? Think about the cost of everything in those cities, even when you do have a choice of who provides services.

David Will, VP-Conferences (and President Joe Aldridge before him) scours the country seeking the best value so we can to keep our conference registration costs down. We know that for many of our members, the Annual Conference & Stage Expo is a highlight of the year. It isn’t cheap to produce the conference, and I won’t say it isn’t inexpensive to attend. But Mr. Will and the Conference Committee hear your comments and seek to get as much for your conference dollar as humanly possible. Just look at the closing night event; it is no longer ticketed but open to all.

I’m happy to say I skipped paying $895 and am taking my sons fishing that weekend instead. But March 9 to 12 you will find me in Charlotte, and I hope to find you there, too. Registration opens this month.

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