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The Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium is held each spring at American University, giving students and young professionals who work in the arts an opportunity to engage in dynamic discussion with peers and experienced leaders in the field about the issues, unique or universal, that affect arts organizations.


The symposium is planned, organized, and executed in its entirety by graduate students in the American University Arts Management Program.

2016 Keynote Deborah Rutter
EALS 2016 Law and Art Panel
EALS 2016: 'Split This Rock'
Morning networking session
EALS 2013
EALS 2014


EALS seeks to provide forums for students and young professionals from around the nation to engage in dynamic discussion with leaders in the field about the current and future issues facing the arts.


Realizing that there was no current forum for emerging arts leaders and arts management graduate students to come together to collaborate, network, and discuss issues, Michelle Grove, MA Arts Management, proposed the first Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium in 2008. What began as a capstone project has now grown into an essential event for emerging leaders to come together and bond as a national community.


EALS is now firmly established as an annual event attracting over 200 participants and featuring diverse panelists, topics, and keynote speakers, including:

2023: Karen Ann Daniels (Director of Programming & Artistic Director of Folger Theatre)

2022: Reginald R. Douglas (Artistic Director of Mosaic Theatre Company of DC)

2020: Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Vice President & Artistic Director of Social Impact at the Kennedy Center)

2019: Melissa Chiu (Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden) & Bob Lynch (Americans for the Arts)

2018: Seema Sueko (Arena Stage) & Bob Lynch (Americans for the Arts)

2017: Jacqueline E. Lawton (Playwright) & Bob Lynch (Americans for the Arts)

2016: Deborah F. Rutter (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) & Megan Crigger (Office of Culture and Creative Services, City of Kansas City, MO)

2015: Dr. Jane Chu (NEA) & Howard Herring (New World Symphony

2014: Francesca Zambello (WNO & Glimmerglass Opera), Russell Willis Taylor (NAS), & Jamie Bennett (ArtPlace America

2013: Karen Brooks Hopkins (BAM) & Aaron Dworkin (Sphinx Organization)

2012: Chad Bauman (Arena StageMilwaukee Rep) & Adrian Ellis (AEA Consulting)

2011: Rachel Goslins (President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities)

2010: Ben Cameron (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, TCG)

2009: Bob Lynch (Americans for the Arts)

2008: Sandra Gibson (American Association of Performing Arts Presenters)


Read more about past symposiums here.

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