Arts Festival Conference 2018

Deerfield Beach, Florida
Thursday, February 15, 2018



Session: Organizational Strategies to Avoid Burnout

Brenda Conway co-founded the nonprofit Downtown Peculiar Arts & Culture District. During her nine-year leadership, this organization went from an idea to a multi-award winning entity with over a half million dollars in assets and one quarter of a million dollars in grants and donations. The organization received a Missouri Arts Council Creative Community Award, became an award-winning part of Missouri Main Street, and produced the Clara Brierly Festival of the Arts.

Stemming from her working experience with a 501(c)3 organization, Conway developed a passion for small towns and arts endeavors. She is the author of several arts guides, including The Beginner's Pocket Guide to Becoming an Art Festival Artist, How to Organize & Host a Successful Arts Festival, and Twelve Months of Affordable, Temporary Public Art Projects. The latter two guides will be released in 2018.

Conway has a bachelor of arts in studio art from the College of the Ozarks in Missouri. Along with hosting workshops and speaking at conferences, she works with individual artists, for-profit entities, and nonprofit entities, assisting with writing skills, artist statements, websites, and marketing materials. She is a board member for the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies and a member of the advisory council for the Cass County Missouri Adult Education program.  

Session: Jury Workshop - Public Portfolio Critique

Matthew Cornell was born in Fairfield, CA in 1964. Cornell is a working artist and has been part of many group, solo, and museum shows since 1997, having paintings shown throughout the country. He also exhibits his art in juried festivals and has served as a juror for an image workshop hosted by the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Fair.

Cornell’s prior work focused on landscape and weather, influenced by his family’s road trips throughout the country, a time that “...made [him] aware of the variety and the vastness the US has to offer.” More recent works deal with backdrops that allowed subtle narratives of mystery and intrigue. These narratives include neighborhoods that mirror the kind he grew up in and the longing he now has to find home.

Cornell received his BFA from California State University in Long Beach, CA and now lives and maintains a studio in Orlando, FL.


Session: Get Your Story Out: Developing and Delivering your Message
Session: Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process

Chris Dahlquist learned to use a camera and darkroom as she was learning to ride a bicycle and write in cursive. In 1998, Dahlquist began exhibiting her artwork throughout the United States after spending the early part of her career in commercial photography and film. Her work is in private, corporate, and municipal collections and has won top awards in the country’s most prestigious juried arts festivals. She has also received grants from Kansas City Arts Council, Mid-America Art Alliance, and Creative Capital Professional Development.  

Dahlquist serves as a peer facilitator, mentor and presenter at Artist Inc. Over the last eight years, she has worked with more than 800 artists, assisting them in building sustainable careers through strategic planning and business skill development. In 2015, Dahlquist worked with the city of Kansas City, Missouri and the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation to develop micro-loans for artists. Currently in the process of building a comprehensive professional development program for Salina Arts and Humanities, Dahlquist travels nationally, speaking and conducting workshops on business topics relevant to artists. She has served as a juror and advisor for national fine art festivals and is the cofounder and former owner of Locust Factory LLC, a collaborative studio and gallery. Dahlquist is represented by Sager Braudis Gallery in Columbia, Missouri. (


Session: A Festival Every Day: An Introduction to Pike Place Market & Roundtable Discussion for Administrators

David Dickinson is the daystall and arts program manager at the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. Dickinson has worked to support the success of artists in the Pike Place Market for 14 years. Most notably, he developed their Business Education Program for Artists and Artisans, and his current focus is on the creation of events programming for the Pike Place Market’s new MarketFront Pavilion, which will promote local artists and craftspeople by forming more organizational partnerships and securing more selling venues.

Outside of his work in the Historic District, Dickinson is a plein air painting enthusiast and exhibiting artist ( He’s exhibited around the Puget Sound region for 25 years, most recently showing at the Northwind Arts Center in Port Townsend, Washington. He received his bachelor of arts degree  from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and holds a certificate in classical animation from the Vancouver Film School in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Session: Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process

Marguerite Esrock is the director of the St. James Court Art Show in Louisville, Kentucky, a prestigious show that celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017. Esrock has directed the art fair for the last 12 years.

Previously, she worked as a production manager with advertising agencies in Kansas City, Toledo, and later in Louisville, where she relocated in 1995. Esrock also worked in marketing and advertising for two art education companies. Esrock graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in advertising and a minor in graphic design. In her spare time, she enjoys crafts and working to improve her golf game.


Session: The Art of Savvy Marketing: A Digital Workshop

Benjamin Frey has worked as a professional artist since 2003, working primarily in drawing, collage, and painting—with occasional sojourns into sculpture. Through the use of metaphorical images, his works evoke times past and create a sense of nostalgia, while inspiring new perspectives on contemporary life. Frey spent two years studying classical literature and philosophy at St. John’s College in Maryland and one year in a French immersion program, studying the language and culture. Frey continues to study both art and ideas, most recently at the Art Students League of New York. Frey's works exist nationally in public and private collections and in group and solo exhibitions.


Session: Jury Workshop - Public Portfolio Critique

Mary Beth Harris is the special events manager for the Boca Raton Museum of Art. She coordinates and manages their facility rentals and events, including the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s annual Art in Mizner Park. Harris is well connected to the art fair industry and has been a volunteer for the DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts for 19 years. Along with her wealth of experience regarding the intake and processing of artist applications, during her volunteer tenure, Harris served as president, volunteer coordinator, and she helped manage logistics— a favorite among her many roles.

Harris received a Bachelor in Finance from Stetson University.

Session: Opening Presentation

Amir Jackson is the founder and director of the Nurture the Creative Mind Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization that helps empower youth and establish self-value while developing marketable creative skills. He is also the director of the Ogden Arts Festival in Ogden, Utah, where his focus is to expand the impact the festival has on the surrounding community. Jackson has been recognized by the Utah governor as a “Change Leader in the Arts” and has received multiple awards, including the Mayor’s Award, the American Red Cross Hero’s Recognition Award, and the American Graduate Award.

Jackson holds a degree in psychology with an education minor from Weber State University. He is a TEDx fellow and sits on the boards for the Utah Cultural Alliance, the WESTAF multicultural committee, the Utah Museums Association, and the Ogden City Visitors’ Bureau. 


Session: Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process

Stephen M. King, CFEE, is the executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival® in Des Moines, Iowa and currently serves as Immediate-Past Chairman of the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) World Board of Directors. Projects throughout his career in events have garnered more than 275 industry awards from the likes of the International Festivals and Events Association and the International Downtown Association.

Before turning his full attention in July of 2011 to the Des Moines Arts Festival, King led the Downtown Events Group from 2006-2011 producing the U.S. Cellular® World Food Festival, Holiday Lights Des Moines, Skywalk Golf, and GuideOne ImaginEve! Before arriving in Des Moines, King served as president/CEO of Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. in northern Virginia. Prior to that, he was the director of the festivals and events division of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, where he produced the MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival, the nation’s third largest arts festival.  

King is an active member of the festivals and events industry. In addition to serving on the IFEA World Board of Directors, he serves on the IFEA Foundation Board of Directors, IFEA World President’s Council, Bravo Greater Des Moines Board of Directors, and is a past director of the National Association of Independent Artists. He is also a founding member of ZAPPlication™, the art fair industry’s universal online application system. King is a regular speaker and contributor to various festival, event and sponsorship conferences and conventions, and is a faculty member of the IFEA/NRPA Event Management School.

Session: Connecting the Dots

Cindy Lerick is the executive director of Sausalito Art Festival Foundation. She's cultivated more than 30 years of experience in event management. Her strategic skills — ranging from event planning, organizational development, project management and sponsorship — are coupled with an outstanding record of achievements in artists relations, jury facilitation, volunteer leadership, and program development.

Prior to her appointment at Sausalito, Lerick was the executive director of Cultural Festivals Inc., the producers of the Saint Louis Art Fair (2009-2017), and the executive director of the Uptown Art Fair (1996-2007). From 2002 to 2004, she co-produced the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival. Along with her extensive art fair experience, Lerick has also produced educational seminars, corporate meetings, marathons, triathlons, and various running and biking events for both for-profit and nonprofit companies.

Lerick is a past Chair of the World Board and the Foundation Board of International Festival and Events Association (IFEA.) She also serves as program coordinator for IFEA’s Certified Festival and Event Executive (CFEE) program. In addition to her work with IFEA, Lerick is an on-site jury and technical support consultant for ZAPP. She received the National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA) inaugural MO Dana Distinguished Service Award in 2007. In 2011, she received recognition from WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) for her leadership, vision, and commitment to the design of the ZAPPlication system.


Session: Artist Driven Data: An Art-Linx Presentation

Robin Markowitz is an artist based in Rockville, Maryland. She has showcased her unique handcrafted jewelry at juried art festivals primarily on the East Coast for the past 20 years. Markowitz has also been the festival director of the Bethesda Row Arts Festival since 2009 and A-RTS at Rockville Town Square, an event she created in 2012. Markowitz became principal of Art-Linx, an online marketing firm connecting artists and art shows, in 2016. In the first year under her direction, she revitalized the website and helped the Art-Linx database grow more than 20 percent.


Session: Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process

Sharon McAllister, upon early retirement at the age of 39, quickly transitioned her experience as divisional vice president of H&R Block to local service within the Lee County community of southwest Florida. In 2000, at the request of the City of Fort Myers downtown redevelopment director, McAllister took over the Lee Sidewalk Arts & Crafts Show, where she formed a nonprofit organization and transformed the annual event into ArtFest Fort Myers, a juried fine art festival. Under her tutelage, this event quickly gained national recognition while bringing an unparalleled art experience to the community.

In her tireless campaign to nurture the arts in Fort Myers, Florida, McAllister has taken on a variety of leadership roles in the community. She is the past chairman of the Public Art Committee and continues to serve in the ongoing development of a public art program for the City of Fort Myers. She also previously served as president of the Fort Myers Conference and Convention Center, the marketing arm of the downtown Harborside Event Center. Illustrating her commitment to creating a vibrant downtown Fort Myers, McAllister’s input regarding the arts and event management has been evidenced during the entire planning process of the downtown waterfront redevelopment. McAllister holds business degrees from the University of Hawaii and the University of Chicago.


Session: Jury Workshop - Public Portfolio Critique

Laura Miller is the interim executive director of Cultural Festivals, the organization that produces the Saint Louis Art Fair. Miller has worked in the art fair industry for 22 years and served an integral part in the execution of the St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Big Read Book Festival. She spends a great deal of time working one-on-one with artists and providing feedback to help improve their art fair jury submissions. Miller has been pivotal in cultivating the growth of the Saint Louis Art Fair and helping to maintain its reputation as a leader in the art fair industry.

Outside of work, Miller serves as an arts advocate, a member of the Creative Cities Alliance Group, a board member for Maplewood Mystery Santa, and is the vice president of Immaculate Conception Parish Council. In 2017, she was recognized as Citizen of the Year for her active community engagement. Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in general studies from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

Session: ZAPP® Refresh

Nancy Musser is the ZAPP demonstration and jury training associate. She conducts online demonstrations to potential customers inclusive of front-end and back-end tutorials and gives online jury trainings to new ZAPP clients. Musser works as an independent consultant for several local and regional festivals, providing professional services in management, logistics, and budgetary requirements. Musser is an advocate for the ease and functionality that the ZAPP system provides and has used the ZAPP system for her own events since 2005. Musser lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Session: Mystery Unmasked: An Inside Look at the Jury Process

Maureen “Mo” Riley is the executive director of the Original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A 30-plus year industry veteran, Riley’s early career was spent as a production stage manager for theatre and ballet, until an unexpected turn opened the door to concert and festival management. Riley accepted a position as an event manager for the Palace of Auburn Hills, Pine Knob Music Theatre, and the Meadowbrook Music Festival in Michigan. Later, she was named the special events director for the University Cultural Center Association, producer of the Detroit Festival of the Arts, and of the holiday event Noel Night in midtown Detroit. In 2010, Riley joined the staff of the Original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. She received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Session: Panelist in Jury Workshop - Public Portfolio Critique

Jeanne Seehaver is the associate director at ArtFest Fort Myers. She has been involved with the festival for 15 years. Her time is dedicated to working with and acting as a liaison for all who make the event run smoothly: the festival's talented artists, the 60-member volunteer steering committee, the 250-person volunteer corps, the festival outreach art club program, and more.

Seehaver has worked in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. She holds a degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Outside of work, Seehaver dabbles in the antique business and enjoys fossil hunting and gardening.


Contact Information

Payment Instructions

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    To pay by check, email the conference director, Christina Villa.

    On-site registration payment options are credit card and cash only.

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