Keynote Speaker

2017 Keynote Speaker Douglas McLennan

Keynote Luncheon topic:

Choosing Sides: Defining a Role for the Arts (and Making it Work) in “Interesting" Times

"Last November's election was a shock to many arts organizations. After years of preaching inclusivity and diversity, it's clear these messages haven't resonated with significant portions of our communities. So what now is the role of artists and arts organizations? Particularly after the case to donors and funders for the arts in recent years has increasingly moved toward "arts and..." arguments, yoking measurable social goods to art.

So maybe an opportunity? Non-profits across the country report being inundated with volunteers and donations, people wanting to do things meaningful to them, things where they can make a difference. How to harness this new energy AND broaden your community in a politically fractious environment? Making America great again is an appeal to values, so what are the compelling values arguments for the arts? How is America's creative community making the case?"


Douglas McLennan is a journalist, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur. His work focuses on the intersection of arts, culture and technology. He is the founder and editor of ArtsJournal, which was founded in September 1999 and aggregates arts and culture news from around the internet. The site is also home to some 60 arts bloggers.

Prior to starting ArtsJournal he was a columnist and music critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, and for a while was a concert pianist, performing in Asia, Europe and North America. He lived and worked in Italy and in China, where he spent a year as artist-in-residence at the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

He has written for numerous publications, including as music critic in the early days of, and for Newsweek, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and the London Evening Standard and was a contributor to the new edition of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians. He has won several awards for arts criticism and reporting, including a National Arts Journalism Program Fellowship at Columbia University and a Deems Taylor/ASCAP Award for music journalism. He was named one of 100 Outstanding Graduates of the Juilliard School for the school’s centennial. He has been a jurist for the Pulitzers in the category of criticism and as press jury chairman for the Van Cliburn International Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth, Texas.

In 2011/12 he was a visiting professor at Claremont Graduate University in the MBA arts management program, and for eight years worked on arts journalism programs at the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He was part of the producing team for the Spring For Music orchestra festival at Carnegie Hall, and ran digital programs, audience engagement and strategy at the Ojai Music Festival. He is a former director of the National Arts Journalism Program. He consults with a number of arts organizations about culture, technology and audience engagement and is a frequent keynoter at national conferences.

You can contact him at
Follow on Twitter: @AJDoug