About LEAD®
At the Conference

Directions to Pre-Conference and Capacity Building Workshops

Registration and Rates


About LEAD®

What does LEAD® stand for and who hosts it?
LEAD® stands for Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability.  LEAD® is a program of the Office of VSA & Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 
What happens at the LEAD® Conference?
The LEAD® Conference is a week of events consisting of a 3-day full conference, with options to attend topical pre-conference and capacity building workshops before and after the full conference.  On the first day of the full conference, we start with a session that includes the entire group.  That afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from 4-6 smaller sessions with different topics related to your field, job duties, or level of knowledge.  You can pick any session that sounds interesting and do not have to sign up for the smaller sessions in advance - it’s all first come, first served.  We also have session tracks such as the Beginners Track, which is a great intro to accessibility for newcomers.  The second and third days will continue with smaller session options.  We'll provide a light breakfast (coffee and pastries) as well as a hot lunch on all three full conference days. In the evenings we’ll have various events in some of Pittsburgh’s finest cultural venues; some included in the price of your registration and some as paid activities.  Overall, the conference aims to provide a good balance of training, learning, and networking.

What about the pre-conference and capacity building workshops?
These are designed to be "add-ons" to the full conference, or as a way to attend a half or full day topical workshop if you cannot attend the full conference.  They are intimate, intensive sessions that pack a lot of information.  Workshops vary from year to year and full descriptions can be found on the schedule page.

Who attends LEAD®?
Whether your organization is big or small, your programming is indoors or outside, or if you come from a performing arts center, art gallery, zoo, museum, theater, or park, the networking and information offered at LEAD® can help you improve accessibility for all of your patrons and visitors.
LEAD® provides professional development for:
•    Accessibility Managers and Coordinators
•    Box Office and House Managers
•    Outreach and Education Coordinators
•    Patrons and Visitor Services Managers
•    Facilities and Operations Managers
•    Exhibition Designers
•    State and Local Government ADA/504 Coordinators
•    Marketing and Audience Development Directors
•    State Arts Commission/Council Accessibility Coordinators

I am an artist.  Can I attend LEAD®?
The LEAD® conference does not address professional development for artists with disabilities or arts education. For resources for artists with disabilities, please visit the Kennedy Center VSA Programs page. For information on arts in education for people with disabilities, please see information for the 2016 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference.

Is everyone who registers accepted?
Not all registrations will be accepted. Space for the conference is limited and preference will be given to paid staff at cultural arts organizations or cultural arts service or government agencies who are directly responsible for making programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. The Kennedy Center reserves the right to decline registrations. In the event that registration is declined, the Center will issue a refund for any fees collected.

At the Conference

Where is the conference taking place?
The full conference (August 3-5) will be held at the The Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh in the downtown Cultural District of Pittsburgh, PA, where we also have a block of hotel rooms available for reservation.  Pre-conference Workshops and evening activities such as the Opening Night Party and 2016 LEAD® Awards Night will take place at cultural venues close to downtown Pittsburgh.  See the schedule page for details.
Where is my pre-conference or capacity building workshop?
Download the following direction sheets for information about specific pre-conference and capacity building workshops: What is the dress code?
Dress is business casual, with an emphasis on casual.  Come in what you are most comfortable and remember that hotel ballrooms can be chilly in the summer.  We recommend light layers.

Are meals provided?
A light breakfast and buffet lunch is provided on all 3 days of the full conference (Wednesday, August 3 to Friday, August 5, 2016), for all attendees and presenters who are registered for those days.  Whether or not food is provided for Pre-Conference and Capacity Building Workshops varies by workshop.  Please see the schedule page for details.

I want to host a session.  How do I apply?
The call for proposals for the 2016 LEAD® conference has ended, however we would love to hear your ideas for next year!  Join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter for announcements on the 2017 Call for Proposals date.
I want to volunteer or become more involved, who should I contact?
There are many opportunities to become involved in the planning process or during the event itself.  Please email [email protected] for more information.

What accessibility accommodations will be available at the conference?
We are committed to provide accessibility services for those who need it.  If you require an accessibility accommodation, please indicate your needs when registering.  To help us get you the best services available, please register and indicate your requirements by July 15, 2016 (there is a "pay later" option!).
All conference locations are wheelchair accessible.  To book an accessible hotel room, please select the appropriate room type when making your reservation. 
If you have any questions about accessibility at LEAD® please contact us at (202) 416-8727 or [email protected]. We are glad to assist! 

Registration and Rates

How much does it cost to attend?
Rates vary. See our Rates page under Conference Details for more information.  

If my colleagues wants to attend, do we get a discount?
Yes!  Please select the “Team Registration” category during the registration process for the option to register multiple people from your organization.  Each person from the same organization will receive a discounted registration rate.  Please Note: The team registration rate is only available to staff members of arts or cultural organizations; arts or cultural service agencies; university or college arts or arts administration program staff; and federal, state or local government employees.


Are there any important deadlines?

May 16       
2016 LEAD® Awards Nominations Due (DEADLINE EXTENDED to MAY 16!)
May 30
LEAD® Student Scholarships Due
July 8

LEAD® Conference Registration Rates Increase
Hotel Room Block Cut Off
       (NOTE: rates will increase and rooms may be sold out prior to this date. We recommend booking early!)
Presenters: Submit additional setup requests
July 15
Accessibility Accommodations Requests Due
July 25

Presenters: Register online and submit your bio and headshot
Presenters: Last chance to update session descriptions and learning objectives
Presenters: Accessible digital handouts and PowerPoint presentations due


Will you bring LEAD® to my town?
We plan each year's conference several years in advance, but are always looking for cities who are eager to host!  Strong cultural arts partners in our host cities are critical to the conference planning, as is access to hotels that can accommodate our group.  If you are interested in having LEAD® come to your city, contact us at (202) 416-8727 or [email protected] to propose a city.

I have more questions.  Who can I ask?
We are here to help!  Please call (202) 416-8727 or email [email protected] to reach a staff member who can give you more information about the conference and answer any of your questions.  During the conference, please visit the Solutions Desk near the Registration Table on the 3rd floor of the hotel.