2020 Conference and Symposia Planner

Whether you're a curator, a visual artist, theatre performer, writer or festival director, 2020 has a conference or professional development opportunity for you.

Whether you’re looking for professional development, seeking to tap into sector trends or want to rub shoulders with cultural entrepreneurs, ArtsHub’s 2020 Conference and Symposia Planner maps out what’s on offer. Please note that while we’ve tried to be thorough, additional dates are sure to be announced later in the year and so cannot be listed here. We have also tried to track here postponed events and new dates as they are published in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


CONFERENCE: ICACM 2020: 14. International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management

ICACM 2020: 14 aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Arts and Cultural Management.

Details: 3-4 February, in Melbourne (VIC).

CONFERENCE: International Conference on Film, Performing Arts and Media Studies

The International Conference on Film, Performing Arts and Media Studies aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Film, Performing Arts and Media Studies.

It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Film, Performing Arts and Media Studies.

Details: 3-4 February, in Melbourne (VIC).

TALKS: APAM 2020: Gatherings

In 2020, the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) will begin a series of events called Gatherings, held in conjunction with established festivals across Australia. They will provide all the elements of traditional performing arts markets, but with full-length public performances. The first is over five days in February: the APAM Gathering at Asia TOPA 2020.

Whether you are an Australian artist or company, a venue, festival or an international presenter, producer or artist, the APAM Gathering at Asia TOPA 2020 enables you to build relationships and create new markets and pathways across the globe.  Registration now open.

Details: 24-28 February, in Melbourne (VIC).

CONGRESS: World Fringe Congress

In 2020, Adelaide Fringe is hosting the World Fringe Congress – the only formal gathering of international Fringe representatives from all around the world. It’s a place for the organisers and current employees of Fringe Festivals from across the globe to share ideas, learn together and forge valuable connections. 2020 will be the first time the biennial Congress will be held in the Southern Hemisphere and it will also coincide with Adelaide Fringe’s 60th birthday.

Details: 14-18 February, in Adelaide (SA). 

CONFERENCE: Electric Dreams

How is augmented reality transforming theatre? What are the new trends in gaming? What is the museum of the future? What new immersive models are transforming the space industry? Hear from leading international artists and creative technologists over three days of presentations, tech demos, workshops and pitches.

Join producers from UK’s Royal Shakespeare Company, Lord of the Rings effects studio WETA Workshop, Marshmallow Laser Feast, MIT, Magic Leap and many more to see how theatre, art, film, games, museums, TV and space industries are being transformed by technology as never before. It’s the key event for anyone looking to expand audience and creativity through tech, find out how blockchain can support artists, or anyone seeking support for new digital work.

Details: 19-21 February, at Lot Fourteen, North Terrace, Adelaide (SA)


CONFERENCE: Australian International Documentary Conference 2020

Are you a documentary film maker? Then this is the conference for you. With a focus on international co-production and co-financing, at AIDC 2020 you will hear from the world’s leading documentary talents and factual industry experts. Its theme is embracing courageous individuals. The first list of speakers has been announced.

AIDC has also announced that the feature documentary and factual series finalists taking part in the retooled FACTory 2020 international pitching event, will occur during the  AIDC 2020 conference. This year the FACTory will feature separate Forum pitches divided by genre categories (presented by Film Victoria), alongside a New Talent pitch, and a Rough Cut pitch (presented by The Post Lounge), ensuring targeted exposure to the most relevant decision makers.

Details: 1-4 March, at State Library of Victoria, Melbourne (VIC)


In partnership with Port Fairy Folk Festival, The ExChange – a boutique industry micro-conference produced annually by Folk Alliance International, a non-profit based in Kansas City, USA – will come to Geelong. Past editions have included events in Ireland and Sweden. The conference is for all folk music lovers, industry members and the general public, and will be presented across venues in Geelong over three nights and two days. It will feature panel discussions with keynote speakers, showcase concerts, and a host of development opportunities for the folk music industry.  

Details: 2-4 March, in Geelong (VIC)


Combining discussion with provocations, Lightning Talks, Showcase Booths and opportunities to meet and GLAMJam these issues along with two keynote presentations, GLAMSLAM 2020 will aim to map out the challenges and opportunities facing Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums, and think about how we might work together to tackle them. Registrations now open.

Details: Friday 6 March, at University of Technology Sydney (NSW).

SYMPOSIUM: Making Meaning: Collections as Data

If you understand the power of data and are seeking ways to better integrate it into your work, then Making Meaning is one for your diary. A one-day symposium featuring influential and challenging speakers from the research, government, digital humanities and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sectors. The day includes two keynote speakers, interactive break-out sessions and lightning talks to build understanding and expertise and showcase best practice examples of collections as data.

Making Meaning aims to raise awareness of the potential of collections as data and build a community of practice in Australia. The symposium is an outcome from our commitment to digital collecting, engagement and empowerment in the State Library of Queensland Digital Strategy.

Details: Friday 6 March, at State Library of Queensland (QLD).

Artwork from the 2020 All About Women festival. Image via Sydney Opera House.

SYMPOSIUM: All About Women

For the eighth year running, Sydney Opera House’s talks and ideas festival All About Women returns to celebrate International Women’s Day. Be inspired and challenged by remarkable guests discussing the latest thinking including Lindsay West, Darcey Steinke, Tea Uglow, Stanislava Pinchuk (miso), Gina Rippon, Jung Chang, Azadeh Moaveni, and more. Program released and tickets now selling.

Details: 8 March at Sydney Opera House (NSW).

TALKS: SCCI Fashion Hub 2020

The Sherman Centre for Culture & Ideas (SCCI) returns again in 2020 with Fashion and Architecture Hubs for conversation. Dr Gene Sherman, Founder and Executive Director of SCCI, said, ‘Our aim is to provide a vibrant platform for the exchange of the most challenging and engaging ideas on architecture and fashion, within the broader context of culture.’ A mix of headline speakers anchor the SCCI Fashion Hub program, which encompasses more than 40 separate events. Complimented by a Deep Dive Forum into the topic through the prism of words, ethics and craftsmanship, the Hubs are presented across multiple venues. Keynote speakers have been announced, and tickets are now on sale.

Details: 19-28 March – moved online due to Coronavirus.

CONFERENCE: The 2020 Leading Edge Books Conference

The Leading Edge Books Conference program will include presentations on the best books for independents to be published in 2020 and is a chance to network and hear from favourite authors as well showcasing new Australian voices. The conference program will incorporate a half-day Supplier Trade Show and the Leading Edge Books Annual Awards Dinner on Monday 23 March, where the 2020 Indie Book Awards will be announced.

Details: 22-24 March at Sofitel Brisbane Central (QLD). Cancelled due to Coronavirus.

SYMPOSIUM: Working with young people in the arts – Professional Development Program

A hands-on two-day program/workshop led by MCA Young Creatives Coordinator and 2018 Churchill Fellow Jo Higgins and a team of MCA Young Creatives alumni. An opportunity learn more about creative youth development, how to build informal youth-led arts programs and develop strategies for advocacy and evaluation. The audience is anyone interested in, or already working with, young people in the cultural sector, including gallery or museum staff, youth workers, teachers, artists and youth development officers. Shared also will be insights from recent major research reports: the MCA’s 2019 report, ‘By young people, for young people’.

Details: 27-28 March at the MCA, Sydney (NSW). Postponed due to Coronavirus – new date to be advised.

CONFERENCE: The 2020 NAEA National Convention

The NAEA National Convention is an annual event and the world’s largest art education convention. Over three days, 1,000 participatory workshops, panels, research reports, keynotes, discussions, exhibits, and tours by world-acclaimed educators, artists, researchers, and scholars are on offer. Plus, each year, some 110-200 exhibitor booths displaying the latest art textbooks, high-tech software, prints, slides, curriculum materials, equipment, and programs, as well as the latest studio and art history media are made available for examination and review by art educator delegates.

Details: 26-28 March in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA).
Cancelled due to Coronavirus.

Symposium: NIRIN, Biennale of Sydney

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in partnership with the Biennale of Sydney, will present a symposium to coincide with Artistic Director Brook Andrew’s exhibitiin NIRIN. Join artists and keynote speakers. Details announced 1 February.

Details: Cancelled due to Coronavirus, with general biennale programming taken online.


Nothing listed to date.


MEETING: Showcase Victoria 2020

Showcase Victoria is Australia’s leading state-based performing arts marketplace and a critical part of Victoria’s touring process. The three-day event provides a unique platform for producers, artists and theatre-makers to make connections and showcase their work to a wide range of venue managers and programmers with the ultimate aim of facilitating touring.

Details: 12-14 May at Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo (VIC). Cancelled due to Coronavirus. 

SYMPOSIUM: ISEA 2020 Symposium

ISEA is one of the world’s most prominent international arts and technology events, bringing together scholarly, artistic, and scientific domains in an interdisciplinary discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in art, interactivity, and electronic and digital media.

For 2020, ISEA Montreal turns towards the theme of Sentience. Sentience describes the ability to feel or perceive. To be sentient is thus to be “capable of feeling,” from the Latin sentientem (nominative sentiens) while “feeling,” the present participle of sentire “to feel,” refers to “being conscious” of something. To feel or perceive something at first seems to suggest that sentience is a uniquely human trait. Yet, sentience implies sensing the world and acting on it across all entities—animal, plant, mineral, environment or machine—rather than cutting things into binaries: human/non-human, animate/inanimate, alive/dead, human/machine, nature/technology.

We ask: why sentience? Why have artists and scholars become interested in sensing and feeling beyond, with and around our strictly human bodies and selves? Why has this notion been brought to the fore in an array of disciplines in the 21st century? Currently calling for papers.

Details: 19-24 May in Montreal (Canada).
Cancelled due to Coronavirus.

TALKS: Semi Permanent 2020

Semi Permanent brings together internationally creative thinkers and renowned leaders together in Sydney. In 2020 Semi Permanent will be tackling the theme of RESTLESS. We live in a time of unparalleled transformation, but the challenges posed by this rate of change are unsolvable by traditional process and ideas. We need restless individuals, restless cities and restless ideas to make up the difference. Put simply, there is no time for anything less.

Returning with a lineup canvassing design, art, technology, fashion, music, film, video games, architecture and more – tickets are now on sale.

Details: Postponed due to Coronavirus. New dates to be advised.

Vivid Sydney. Image via www.sydney.com

TALKS: VIVID Ideas 2020

Vivid Sydney is a festival of Ideas, Light and Music presented by Destination NSW in partnership with the City of Sydney across key venues. It is the largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Alongside the spectacular site-responsive light works, a three week program of panel talks, masterclasses and keynote speakers is presented, which has garnered its own reputation for innovative thinking. Details of the 2020 program are yet to be announced.

Details: Cancelled due to Coronavirus. Will return in 2021.

CONFERENCE: The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2020

The 11th Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities (ACAH2020) is an interdisciplinary conference held in Tokyo (Japan). The theme for 2020 is Embracing Difference. At a time when nationalism and ethno-centrism have become ascendant ideologies and provide easy refuge from the anxieties generated by globalisation and economic uncertainty, it is far too easy to see “difference” as a problem rather than an opportunity. They can be frightening, unsettling, and intellectually challenging. At the same time, they are enormously generative. This conference looks at how “Difference” is the source of innovation and change across the arts and humanities.

Details: 24-27 May in Tokyo (Japan). Currently still going ahead.


CONFERENCE: AAANZ 2020: Art Markets without Borders

The theme of Art Association Australia & New Zealand’s 2020 conference is Art Markets without Borders – artists, networks, demand, value, and will be convened by the Art Market Studies Research Project at the University of Melbourne. Call for papers currently open.

Today’s global art world offers multiple opportunities for artists and artworks to cross borders. Institutional and commercial platforms such as biennales, art fairs, mega galleries and auction houses afford global footprints to translocate cultural productions and their creators to diverse audiences. Simultaneously, visible and invisible boundaries impact this movement both positively and negatively – government regulations, parochial markets, art world gatekeepers and economic drivers. Ostensibly, a global art world proposes art markets without borders but is this really the case? Specifically, this conference wishes to address the following research questions:

Details: Wednesday 3 June at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne (VIC).

CONFERENCE: Australian Booksellers Association Conference 2020

The Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) 96th annual conference and trade exhibition will be taking place in Sydney. In conjunction with the ABA conference, the Australian Publishers Association will host BOOK UP – a day of programming for the whole book industry on Tuesday 23 June.

The ABA conference is a time to step away from the-day to-day business of selling books and writing and to connect with your industry, to be challenged, recharged and inspired.

Details: 21-23 June at the Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney (NSW). Postponed due to Coronavirus. New dates to be advised.

CONFERENCE: Communicating the Arts 2020

Presented in Sydney in 2019, the popular conference Communicating the Arts, presented by Agenda, will travel to Lausanne in 2020 for its 25th edition. Expecting 250 communication and engagement experts working in museums, historical monuments, the visual and performing arts, this year the theme is The Art of Placemaking.

Placemaking is a call to action for the arts world to capitalise on local assets, inspiration and potential to create public spaces that promote good health, stimulate local economies and lead to increased creative activity, innovation, diversity and civic engagement.

This requires carefully constructed and managed partnerships between the public, commercial, and not-for-profit sectors. How constitutive members collaborate with each other, across institutions and disciplines; with local communities and their changing demographics; with city stakeholders; with diverse funders; and with other urban agendas is crucial to their success. Deadline for all speaker applications: 28 February 2020.

Details: 22-24 June, in Lausanne (Switzerland). Currently, continuing as planned.


Symposium: Know My Name – women and art in the 21st century

The Know My Name conference celebrates the role of women as artists, intellectuals, researchers, mentors and activists now and into the future. This special event brings together established and emerging artists, curators and academics from across the world to share new research, insights and creative practice and to discuss women and gender equity in the arts.

Held across two days, the conference program will include keynotes, round tables, performance lectures, panels and participatory discussions.

Organised and hosted by the National Gallery of Australia, the conference has been developed in collaboration with partners including the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian National University School of Art & Design, University of Melbourne and UNSW Art & Design. Program and tickets will be released in March.

Details: 10-11 July, at the NGA, Canberra (ACT). Currently, continuing as planned.

CONFERENCE: 12th World Symposium on Choral Music

The major, triennial, international event has only visited Australasia a handful of times, but it’s among the world’s most highly regarded training grounds for conductors, composers, choristers, choral music teachers, administrators and practitioners. Australian presenters coming to New Zealand include Lyn Williams and  Paul Stanhope, who are among over 40 others from across the world.

Details: 11-18 July, in Auckland (NZ). Currently, continuing as planned.


TALKS: APAM 2020: Gatherings

Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) will present a second Gathering event to coincide with the Darwin Festival. They will provide all the elements of traditional performing arts markets, but with full-length public performances.  

Details: 15-18 August, at Darwin Festival (NT).

An APAM Gathering will be held at Darwin Festival in August. Image via tourismtopend.com.au

CONFERENCE: The Design Conference

The Design Conference is an event for creatives. It is more than discussions on the future of design; it is finding what motivates, connects, moves and educates our world leaders in the creative field.The May conference was moved to August in response to Coronavirus.

NEW DATES: 19-22 August, at Brisbane Powerhouse (QLD). 


UX Australia is Australia’s premier User Experience Design conference, now in its 12th year, with workshops and presentations to suit everyone from graduate to experienced practitioners. Two days of local and international conference presentations, backed up a program of hands-on workshops focus on practical skills and techniques that can help you get started, learn new methods and tools or explore new ideas in detail. Registration now open.

Details: 25-28 August, in Melbourne (VIC).


CONFERENCE: Artlands 2020

Regional Arts Australia is thrilled to announce that Artlands 2020 will culminate in a conference at Junction Arts Festival, in Lutruwita on Palawa country in north–east Tasmania in September 2020. From 2020 onwards, Regional Arts Australia (RAA) will be the executive producer of Artlands. The new Artlands model will be designed alongside existing festivals, exhibitions and gatherings connecting creative programming with ongoing platforms for dialogue and critical conversations.

Details: 2-6 September in Launceston (TAS).


Across a week in September, and in partnership with host venue NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art), the Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX) will offer a new look conference under one new banner.

The title and theme for APAX 2020 is Us. This is family work. Attendees can expect presentations of over 50 of the best creative projects on offer from across Australia preceding a conference this year curated by PAC Australia’s Katherine Connor. You are invited into the important conversation around engaging, expanding and nourishing the arts ‘family’, in every sense of the word.

Details: 7-11 September at NIDA, Sydney (NSW).

CONFERENCE: Art every day

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) will again host the national primary visual arts conference in 2020, for its second year. The conference brings together teachers, artists, researchers, school leaders and arts advocates to lead a conversation around best-practice visual arts teaching and learning in the primary years.

Details: 4-5 September at MCA, Sydney (NSW).

CONFERENCE: University Museums and Collections Conference 2020

The University of Sydney’s new Chau Chak Wing Museum will host the 20th annual University Museums and Collections conference (UMAC 2020) with the theme: New Destinations: Looking Forward / Looking Back.

As the operating environment of higher education is changing, museums and collections can play a significant role in helping to shape an institution’s identity and narrative. They are an opportunity for diverse audiences to engage with history, academic thought and contemporary ideas while performing as a theatre space for innovative research and practice. UMAC 2020 examines the relationships between museums and collections and their institutional hosts, their relationship with the tripartite missions of teaching, research and engagement and their relevance to global issues in both higher education and broader society.

Proposal submissions are due Friday 28 February.

Details: 15-17 September, at Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney (NSW).

CONFERENCE: Australian Festival Industry Conference (AFIC)

Coffs Harbour has been chosen as the host destination for the 2020 Australian Festival Industry Conference (AFIC) – Australia’s only conference for festival management personnel.

The draft programme is nearing completion and will be unveiled 11 March, along with the launch of early bird tickets.

Details: 22 – 24 September, 2020 at Pacific Bay Resort in Coffs Harbour (NSW).


REMIX Summits bring together pioneers from different industries to explore the future of culture, creative cities and the creative economy. A unique forum where creative leaders from different industries can exchange insights, ideas and work together towards common goals.

Details: 14-15 September.


CONFERENCE: MuseumNext Australia

MuseumNext is a suite of conferences held internationally. In 2020, conferences will be held in Edinburgh, Melbourne and Washington DC, with a Digital Summit in Amsterdam at the end of the year. MuseumNext Melbourne will be presented at the newly refurbished ACMI in Melbourne. The event will focus on prototyping in museums with Nina Simon confirmed as the keynote speaker.

Details: 7-9 October at the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne (VIC).

CONFERENCE: 2020 AMaGA National Conference

The 2020 Australian Museums and Galleries Association Inc (AMaGA) conference will invite new perspectives on the museum and gallery sector’s role in creating the future. It will be an ambitious, imaginative and outward-looking program that questions assumptions. It will address our sector’s impact on communities, ecologies and economies. With the theme Creating the Future, bring your perspective on building and fostering trust and empathy in the context of global challenges. Early bird registration closes has been extended and the May conference moved to October in response to the Coronavirus.

NEW DATES: 28 – 31 October 2020, at National Convention Centre, Canberra (ACT). Cancelled due to Coronavirus.

CONFERENCE: Celebrate Reading National Conference 2020 (YA lit)

Experience two days of inspiration and insights into quality Australian literature at the 2020 Celebrate Reading National Conference, held in Fremantle, Western Australia. In 2020, the focus is on quality Australian children’s literature. The conference suits teachers, librarians, writers, illustrators and literature enthusiasts. The first list of speakers includes: Alice Pung (VIC), Karen Foxlee (QLD), Ellie Marney (VIC), Barry Jonsberg (NT), Michael Pryor (VIC), Meg Caddy (WA), Tristan Bancks (VIC) and Michael Gerard Bauer (QLD).

Details: 30-31 October at The Literature Centre, Fremantle, WA


CONFERENCE: ArtState 2020

Wagga Wagga has been announced as the host city for Artstate 2020, a celebration of excellence in Arts and Culture in Regional NSW presented by Regional Arts NSW and Eastern Riverina Arts. It will be the fourth and final conference in this suite of regional programming that which aims to shine a light on excellence in regional arts practice and to explore the exciting possibilities for arts and cultural development across the state.

Details: 5-8 November across multiple venues, Wagga Wagga (NSW).

CONFERENCE:  KidLitVic 2020

Meet the Publishers is an opportunity for new, emerging and experienced writers and illustrators to meet and hear from industry professionals on writing, illustrating and publishing children’s and YA books in the current Australian market.

The one day conference combines expert Publisher Panel discussions, one-to-one Assessments with Publishers, Illustrator Portfolio Showcase, Pitches, Masterclasses and Up Close and Personal Sessions with Publishers, that will build and enhance your creative career. First list of speakers has been announced. The May event was moved to November in response to Coronavirus.

NEW DATES: Saturday 7 November, at The Melbourne Town Hall (VIC)

CONFERENCE: Independent Publishing Conference 2020

The 2020 Independent Publishing Conference will be held in Melbourne this year. Details of this year’s program are yet to be published. Save the date.

Details: 26–28 November at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne (VIC).


CONFERENCE: ADSA 2020: Acts of Gathering: Goodbye-Hello. Hello-Goodbye

The 2020 ADSA conference will be convened by Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW Sydney. Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA) is the peak academic association promoting the study of drama in any performing medium throughout the region. Under the theme Acts of Gathering, it will ask: What do we leave behind? What do we hold onto? What do we play forward? Currently calling for papers.

Details: 1-4 December at UNSW Sydney (NSW)

SYMPOSIUM: Digital Directions 2020

Usually held each December, and hosted by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), Digital Directions is a one-day symposium exploring issues facing digital cultural collections. 2020 will be the seventh edition of the event.

Details: dates yet to be published. Presented in Canberra (ACT)

CONFERENCE: Meeting Place 2020

Meeting Place is the leading forum for Arts, Culture and Disability in Australia. Meeting Place 2020 will be held in Brisbane, as part of the Undercover Artist Festival, presented by Access Arts. Undercover Artist Festival is Australia’s signature arts and disability festival.

Details: December (dates yet to be published), Brisbane (QLD)

What did we miss? Email editor@artshub.com.au with updates.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina