National Conference

National Conference and Theatre Tour


43rd National Conference & Theatre Tour

July 14-17, 2019 - Philadelphia, PA

Downtown Austin Courtesy of Geoff Duncan, Visit Austin

Photo by Bob Krist for the PHLCVB





Thank you to everyone who helped make our 42nd National Conference a HUGE success!

Austin isn't just the Live Music Capital of the World or one of the "Best Places to Live and Work" in the U.S., it was also an amazing place to host an LHAT National Conference!

More than 280 people from across North America attended, including representatives from more than 95 historic theatre organizations and close to 60 service provider and supplier firms, in addition to individuals from local preservation agencies, Subscriber members and invited guests.

The optional Pre-conference Theatre Ramble took 56 attendees to visit six theatres in and outside of Austin, including: the Austin Scottish Rite Theater, Austin; the Gaslight Baker Theatre, Lockhart; the Majestic Theatre, the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, and Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, in San Antonio; plus the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre, New Braunfels.

Over four days, we provided more than 46 hours of professional development covering Facilities, Operations, Marketing, Fundraising, and Film, in addition to case studies showcasing the best practices of several member theatres. Two in-depth sessions covered "Renovation 101" and "Worst Case Scenarios" (Disaster Preparedness, Security and Insurance/Risk Management).

On Opening Night, we presented our 2018 Awards for Excellence to these very deserving recipients: Outstanding Historic Theatre Award: Struthers Library Theatre in Warren, PA; Outstanding Individual Contribution Award to Ben Hardeman, credited for saving the Queen Theatre in Bryan, TX; and Marquee Award to Jaston Williams, co-author, co-star and producer of the Greater Tuna series.

On day two, 38 exhibitors showed off their products and services during the 2.5 hour Annual LHAT Expo.

Our keynote speaker was Duff Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of GSD&M Idea City, a company that helped elect a president, launch an airline, turn Walmart into a global retail force, and even gave Texas its rallying cry – Don't Mess With Texas!

We closed out the conference with a wonderful half-day at Austin's own historic Paramount and State Theatres, which operate as the Austin Theatre Alliance. This mighty little nonprofit has beaten all the odds, continuing to draw large crowds and present sold out shows despite an overwhelming number of for-profit, competing venues popping up each year. Through an in-depth case study and theatre tours, they shared with us their best practices and tips for how to "Make Each Moment an Event." They demonstrated their expertise at doing just that by pulling up the curtain to reveal a down-home, Texas-style backyard barbecue, complete with picnic tables and grass, local food, bourbon and entertainment!

When the conference was over, attendees were both exhausted and exhilarated by all that they experienced. They left Austin with mounds of information and best practices to apply at their own theatres, not to mention with a whole new network of LHAT peers and friends with whom they can continue to network and share advice throughout the year.

We aren't sure yet where we'll be for next year's National Conference, but we will be on the East Coast of the U.S. in July 2019. Stay tuned for confirmed details by the end of September.

THANK YOU to all of our national partners, sponsors, volunteers, speakers, exhibitors and attendees, in addition to our local steering committee. Because of all of you, LHAT's most important annual event continues to grow and improve year after year!


About the National Conference & Theatre Tour

The League's annual conference is the largest annual gathering of historic theatre professionals, community leaders, and service providers and suppliers, attracting participants from across the U.S. and Canada for idea sharing and network building. Professionals, volunteers and devotees join together for four days of networking and peer information exchange, tools & techniques sessions, and tours of local historic theatres, plus events, banquets and receptions.

By defining our field, creating a shared vocabulary and identifying best practices, the educational components of the League's annual conference strengthen efforts to sustain historic theatres of various sizes, operating structures and programming philosophies. During theatre tours, docents emphasize how each venue has dealt with the specific challenges of sustaining their operations to serve their communities, now and in the future. The conference takes place in different locations across North America each year.