• Adam Shalleck

2020 International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) Performing Arts Sector Venue Connect Keynote


Since 2015, The Shalleck Collaborative has been sponsoring the keynote and featured speakers at the IAVM VenueConnect conference, which is a gathering for just that: executives and managers of performing arts centers across the US and abroad, and, well, the people who love them (theatre planners, acoustical consultants and architects). With the sponsorship, I am given the mic for a few minutes to say a few words of my choosing and introduce the speaker. Following here is the Introduction to Nicole Brewer at the October 2020 Virtual Venue Connect Conference:

I’m thinking, at some gathering or in a post a year ago, maybe two, in a moment of exasperation someone said we should just tear it all down so we can rebuild it better....aaaand here we are.

Since we’re back together again I’m putting the call out to that same person, that Nostradamus of venue managers: please say out loud all the rebuilding models we want to hasten back improved. I think we can take heart: resilience is natural in us.


I am a theatre planning and design consultant, and the design process for buildings starts with empathy. I am here again to understand cultural, artistic and organizational directions so we can help you translate that into form and the capability to return to gathering and reaching souls.

I’ve regularly been asked about what’s next?

On the brick and mortar, silver lining side: several wonderful historic improvements projects accelerated in the shut down, and four new performing arts centers will be ready to open their doors when we are able to open doors.

One of those centers is with Chris Ayzoukian the ED of the new Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton, OR, and when he asked me, "what’s next," he meant more globally, in the arts. I mustered “We’re heading toward....something.” We laughed, he said he’d quote me on that. But in dissecting that answer later, I’m sticking with it…as a call: I’m excited about whatever something is, and that we’re heading somewhere. Akin to a revolution we may not know exactly what form we will evolve but we know the things we’re moving away from. We’re responsible to be the re-builders, inventors, interpreters, articulators. We’ve got wind and wisdom and that’s the opportunity. Let’s dig deep. Collect the things you think we should do. We can put them in categories of carts and horses but sometimes we need to hook up the team and push the whole rig sideways. Do all the things.

At the core of that is today’s discussion.

This year’s keynote examines The Role of Venues in the Anti-Racist Movement.

Today, a conversation with Nicole Brewer as she shares valuable insights on the vocabulary of anti-racism and how shifting our focus from diversity to anti-racism in the way we speak can actively dismantle systemic discrimination and the barriers it creates.

Nicole is a director, actor, educator and a passionate advocate for anti-racist theatre.  She has spent the last seven years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theatre training-and-practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). In articles she’s addressed the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive ones. Nicole has been invited all over the US and in the UK to teach and speak about this, and to facilitate Anti-Racist Theatre workshops. 

And because the medium is the message and this is all about conversations, we also welcome this session’s champion Bridget Benton, who among other roles is the

Director of the Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University.


We also wanted to extend gratitude for the partnership with the IAVM Diversity & Inclusive Leadership Committee in creating this session.

Please click your hand clap emojis for Nicole Brewer and Bridget Benton.


To learn more about Nicole's work: https://www.nicolembrewer.com/.