USITT, the association for performing arts and entertainment professionals, broke its all-time attendance records last week during the 59th Annual Conference & Stage Expo held in the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
More than 6,000 attendees were verified through the conference registration system.
USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, is a national non-profit association for the live entertainment production industry. It provides hands-on learning, mentorship, and networking opportunities for emerging and working professionals in the backstage arts. Its Annual Conference and Stage Expo features training sessions and exhibitors of the latest tools and resources for creating live entertainment.
The Institute held more than 400 educational opportunities for attendees — many of them hands-on sessions or demonstrations with the latest technology available in the entertainment industry — at all stages of their careers.
Additionally, the Institute contracted more than 340 companies for its Stage Expo, 40 more than the previous record, set a year ago. The 2019 Expo rented 53,600 square-feet of exhibition space, another record.
The show’s direct local economic spend was estimated at $5 million, with attendees filling seven hotels in the Louisville area and patronizing local arts venues, attractions, and dining establishments. Record numbers of buyers attending the Expo understand the value of investing money into the theatrical and live entertainment industry to continue to meet the demands of this important national economic growth engine.
Locally, according to Louisville Tourism, the Annual Conference & Stage Expo had a direct impact on nearly 1,150 jobs in the region and an indirect impact on an additional 350 jobs.
Founder & CEO of Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater Jackie Taylor, visual artist Tupac Martir, and executive vice president of National Networks for Vibrant Emotional Health Dr. John Draper gave presentations centering around eradicating racism, growing a company from one to more than two dozen employees, and mental health and the entertainment industry respectively. Additionally, local arts organization, Lexington Children’s Theatre, received the Thomas DeGaetani Award, named for the Institute’s first president.
“Our Institute and our industry depend on collaboration and inclusion in all of its diverse forms,” says David Grindle, executive director of USITT. “We are happy to have had such a fantastic reception in the diverse and welcoming city of Louisville. And we were extremely happy to bring our growing base of attendees and exhibitors to the Derby City.”
USITT’s 60th Annual Conference & Stage Expo will be held April 1-4, 2020 in Houston.