Hank Knerr, director of Public Events for the College of Fine Arts and director of ArtsPath, is serving as the chairperson for this year’s Pennsylvania Spring Arts Conference. The conference will bring over two hundred arts leaders from across the state to Pittsburgh May 27–29, 2009, for workshops, performances, and other events. Knerr is leading a group of twenty-two committee members.
The conference is organized through Pennsylvania Presenters and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Pennsylvania Presenters is an organization that supports organizations and universities that bring touring performing arts events to their venues. Knerr, who manages The Lively Arts at IUP, has served on its board of directors and is a past president of the organization, one of the most active presenting consortium groups in the country.
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a state agency and part of the governor’s office. The conference brings together several of the council’s leading programs, including Pennsylvania Arts in Education Partnership, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, Picture PA, the Folk and Traditional Arts Infrastructure, and the Cities and Communities Initiative.
The conference includes showcases for touring artists from across the country, workshops by leading experts in the field of arts and management, and keynote addresses by Grammy-winning singer Kathy Mattea and by Thomas Mulready, the founder of the Cool Cleveland Network.
This year’s conference will pay particular attention to the economy and the threat of losing state funding for the arts. Currently, the state senate has passed a budget bill eliminating all funding for the Pennsylvania Arts Council, which would eliminate hundreds of programs, jobs, and grants provided throughout the state. The house bill, currently in debate and scheduled for a vote later this month, restores that funding. Debate in conference committee and by the governor is expected to be intense. Advocacy to protect these funds is underway through Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania and an on-line state petition open to all taxpayers.