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Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD®)

2019 Conference and Training – Denver, CO
Capacity Building Workshops: August 3-4
Conference: August 5-7

Join us!

Every year the Kennedy Center's Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD®) conference brings experienced and new professionals together to explore practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments. At LEAD® we share resources and knowledge, develop best practices, and experience accessibility in action.

  • Basic to Advanced: No matter what level of experience you have, there's always something to learn. The building blocks will give newcomers the tools and information they need to develop a successful accessibility program while the discussion groups and advanced track address accessibility for the most experienced.
  • Facilities to Programs: Sessions and discussions will cover all aspects of accessibility from the built environment to programs and communication.
  • Legal Obligations & Customer Service: Learn about relevant laws and regulations and explore accessibility from the customer service and business case perspectives.
  • Networking: Engage in conversations with colleagues who are enthusiastic about accessibility and eager to share their insights and learn from others.

Learn more on how to join the dialogue, to share exciting ideas, and to explore new and innovative ways to welcome everyone.

Who Attends?

LEAD® provides professional development for:

  • Accessibility Managers and Coordinators
  • Box Office and House Managers
  • Outreach and Education Coordinators
  • Patrons and Visitor Services Managers
  • Facilities and Operations Managers
  • Exhibition Designers
  • State and Local Government ADA/504 Coordinators
  • Marketing and Audience Development Directors
  • State Arts Commission/Council Accessibility Coordinators

The LEAD® conference does not address professional development for artists with disabilities or arts education. For resources for artists with disabilities, please visit the VSA Programs page. For information on arts in education for people with disabilities, please visit the Intersections Conference page.

Why attend LEAD®?

Here are just a few reasons why LEAD® is a smart choice for professional development for cultural arts administrators.

  • One-of-a-kind professional development. No other conference focuses on accessibility in cultural venues like LEAD®. The conference provides an intimate, rich atmosphere to engage arts professionals of all experience levels.

  • Access to ideas. Tap into the collective “brain trust” of arts managers from museums, theaters, parks, zoos, libraries, and other cultural venues from around the world.

  • Access to experts. The Kennedy Center engages leading thinkers in the field to present at the conference. And after the event, attendees are invited to join an exclusive listserv to continue the conversation and ask questions.

  • Networking opportunities. LEAD® has a number of networking opportunities both during the conference and at evening social events. Meet and mingle colleagues from around the world in an open and safe forum.

  • Practical information. You'll leave with ideas and practices that can be implemented at your organization right away.

  • Something for everyone. LEAD® has sessions and workshops for beginners and the more experienced. It doesn't matter what your background or knowledge level is – we have sessions for you.

  • Experiential opportunities. LEAD® provides the opportunity to experience accessibility services and programs. Through our pre-conference Capacity Building Workshops and optional performances with accessibility services, you can see access in action!

Session Information

The 2019 LEAD® conference Call for Proposals is closed. Information about conference sessions are listed below.

Session Topic Areas include:

  • Accessibility Services and Programs: Addresses design and implementation of inclusive or targeted programs, accommodations, or services.
  • Built Environment: Focuses on physical accessibility for renovations, new construction, and retrofits.
  • Customer Service and Staff Training: Examines staff and volunteer education and awareness; managing guest requests, complaints, and concerns.
  • Inclusion, Outreach and Community Engagement: Explores meaningful and effective ways to connect with, involve, cultivate, and welcome the diverse community of people with disabilities.
  • Legal Requirements: Addresses laws and regulations applicable to cultural arts environments.
  • Organizational Buy-In and Strategic Planning: Examines methods for cultivating support for accessibility programs and initiatives within an organization and planning for sustainability.
  • Program Evaluation or Research: Addresses strategies for evaluating program efficacy and impact; examines evidence-based practices.
  • Technology: Discusses digital strategies and devices designed to improve accessibility.
  • Universal Design: Focuses on the implementation of universal design principles in cultural arts settings.

Session Types:

  • Snapshot Sessions: Snapshot sessions are 15-minute informal presentations given at round tables with 10-15 participants at a time.
  • Capacity Building Workshops: These are in-depth, hands-on professional development workshops addressing a specific topic related to cultural arts access. Capacity building workshops can be 4 hours, 8 hours, or multiple days and will be offered August 3 & 4.
  • Conference Sessions: 80-minute sessions offered concurrently during the conference August 5-7. All sessions must include an interactive component that will engage adult learners and can be offered in several formats:
    • Classroom – These sessions provide practical tips, tools and resources that attendees can use to start or improve initiatives, programs, or services.
    • Panel Discussion – These sessions offer multiple perspectives on or approaches to a single topic.
    • Skill Building - These hands-on sessions are designed to teach participants a tangible skill.
    • Think Tank – These highly interactive and discussion-based sessions provide an opportunity for conversation.

Registration Eligibility and Rates


Not all registrations will be accepted. Space is limited and preference will be given to paid staff at cultural arts organizations, cultural arts service or government agencies who are directly responsible for making programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. The Kennedy Center reserves the right to decline registrations. In the event that registration is declined, the Center will issue a refund for any fees collected.

Registration Rates

Conference: August 5 – 7

Registration Type Individual Rate Team Rate
Arts/Cultural Organization Staff $325.00 $300.00
Federal/State/Local Government Staff $325.00 $300.00
College/University Arts or Arts Administration Staff $325.00 $300.00
Arts Service Agency Staff $325.00 $300.00
Non-Profit Disability Service Organization Staff $750.00 N/A
For-Profit Disability or Arts Service Organization Staff and Consultants $850.00 N/A
Student Scholarships
(Application required. See below for complete details)
$160.00 N/A
Only available to Arts/Cultural Organizations,
Federal/State/Local Governments, College/University Arts,
and Arts Service Agencies.
$200.00 N/A
Presenters $80.00 N/A
Capacity Building Workshops Varies by workshop N/A

Scholarships for Students

Applications for the 2019 LEAD® Conference Student Scholarships is now closed.

Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in arts administration/management or museum studies programs can apply for a scholarship to attend the LEAD® Conference at a reduced rate. If accepted, student registration would include access to sessions during the main LEAD® Conference. Additional fees apply for pre-conference and capacity building workshops as well as the Awards Evening and other special events.

If you have questions about the scholarships, please contact the Kennedy Center's Accessibility Office at or 202-416-8727.

Team Registration Discounts:

If your organization sends more than one person to the full conference, the registration rate drops to $300 per person! Please Note: The team registration rate is only available to staff members of arts or cultural organizations; arts or cultural service agencies; university or college arts or arts administration program staff; and federal, state or local government employees.

Hotel Accommodations:

The Kennedy Center’s 2019 LEAD® Conference is pleased to offer specially priced room blocks at two hotels; the Embassy Suites and the Hilton Garden Inn. Both hotels are located in downtown Denver and are a convenient distance to many shops, restaurants, and local attractions.

After the opening session in the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver for the Performing Arts, all full conference sessions (Monday, August 5 to Wednesday, August 7) will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

Embassy Suites, Denver Downtown Convention Center

1420 Stout Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 592-1000

Regular Single and Double Rooms are $199/night.

  • Book your hotel room online
  • To book reservations by phone, call: 1 (800) 445-8667
  • If booking by phone, please make sure to mention to the agent that you are with the block reserved for the LEAD® Conference.
    • Accessible rooms with tubs or roll-in shower are available.
    • ADA/visual alert kits are available upon request for any room type. This can be added in the additional comments section while reserving your room online or in-person upon arrival.

Amenities at the Embassy Suites include:

  • Complimentary cooked to order breakfast
  • Complimentary internet access in guest rooms
  • Fitness studio
  • Indoor pool
  • Distance to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: 0.3 miles
  • For more information about the hotel, visit the hotel website

Hilton Garden Inn, Denver Downtown

1400 Welton Street
Denver, Colorado 80202
(303) 603-8000
Regular Single and Double Rooms are $199/night.

  • Book your hotel room online
  • To book reservations by phone, call: (303) 603-8000 or (855) 215-1283  
  • If booking by phone, please make sure to mention to the agent that you are with the block reserved for the LEAD® Conference.
    • Accessible rooms with tubs or roll-in shower are available.
    • ADA/visual alert kits are available upon request for any room type

Amenities at the Hilton Garden Inn include:

  • Hot American Breakfast buffet for up to two people per room
  • Complimentary internet access in guest rooms
  • Fitness studio
  • Indoor pool and spa tub
  • Distance to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: 0.4 miles
  • For more information about the hotel, visit the hotel website.

Please note that these special rates are only available before 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 15, 2019. Some amenities such as free internet access may only be complimentary if booked under our conference block. Reservations at this rate are limited – we encourage you to book as soon as possible.


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