Why the CAA Annual Conference Matters

CAA 105th Annual Conference in New York, 2017. Photo: Ben Fractenberg

At the CAA Board of Director’s retreat in late October, the Board and staff took a detailed look at the Annual Conference and why it matters to the field.

Without question, recent changes like shorter sessions and more diversity have been very popular.  In fact, 82% of the attendees at the 2017 Annual Conference were satisfied as either presenters or attendees.

As we look at the value that the conference provides members and to the fields of art and design, and art history, here are some thoughts from CAA Board of Directors about the impact of the conference:

  • It provides the next generation of scholars with new scholarship and opportunities of leadership.
  • Attendees hear well-researched papers and others further their career by presenting a paper.
  • The conference deals with urgent issues within academia.
  • It creates the opportunity for intergenerational discussions.
  • Allows academic administrators to see the creative and scholarly work that many educators create each year.
  • Opens the door to new forms of knowledge production.
  • Creates opportunities that can only happen face to face — a sense of connection and belonging to the field.
  • The sense of critical mass is really important.
  • Allows for a reunion of friends and colleagues, which helps with professional opportunities.
  • Challenges and energizes educators in their job – a mini-sabbatical.

Register for the 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, February 21-24.


As we think about changes for the future we are focusing on:

  • A higher percentage of the membership that can participate/attend the annual conference.
  • Creating a physical/digital memory of the conference via social media.
  • On-site exhibitions for visual artists.
  • Increased profile of our field in general audience media.
  • More social media and blogging about the conference.
  • Offering more opportunities for dealing with practical family issues during the conference (i.e., child/adult care, etc.)

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