Americans for the Arts’ Executive Leadership Forums are an opportunity for deep learning, reflection, and long-term planning specifically designed for the executive leaders of organizations advancing the cause of the arts at a local level—in particular local arts agencies, arts commissions, arts councils, and multi-arts service organizations. 

This year, for the first time, we are offering two Executive Leadership Forums.

  1. The Executive Leadership Forum at Sundance, a three and a half day retreat at the Sundance Resort in Utah, will take place Wednesday, September 13 through Saturday, September 16, 2017. This Forum paired with the National Arts Policy Roundtable, is built as a networking retreat and learning experience—deliberately removed from the hub-bub of the world. This Forum has a per-person, all-inclusive cost (excluding flights) of $3,000.
  2. This year, we are debuting a second Executive Leadership Forum that will change location each year. This year, we will be hosting a three and a half day deep dive exploration of Toledo, Ohio, the “Glass City,” to take place Wednesday, October 11 through Saturday, October 14, 2017. This Forum is deliberately placed in a mid-sized city with a rich story to tell, and is a great opportunity to enjoy much of the bonding, collaborative learning, and advice of the original Executive Leadership Forum while also exploring exemplary work in practice. This Forum has a per-person, all-inclusive cost (excluding flights) of $2,000.

Learn more about the Executive Leadership Forums by reviewing this brochure.

Both Forums will provide ample opportunity for bonding and exploring best practices and case studies among your peers of local arts executives. At Sundance, the remaining time will be focused on group learning and contemplation. In Toledo, the remaining time will be co-developed with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo into a deep engagement with the local history, art, and creative workers of Toledo—a place with an extraordinary, hundred-plus-year-old story to tell about the intertwining of the arts with blue collar industry, enterprise, and economic and community revitalization.

Both of these excursions are designed with fees that cover all of your expenses, your hotel, your meals, and all experiences during your time with us (excluding airfare).

There are a total of 20 available spaces for executive leaders in each Executive Leadership Forum program. Because of the level of interest in previous programs, we have implemented an application process—applicants are asked to fill out the form below, including a 300-word statement on why you wish to attend the Executive Leadership Forum.

Please indicate in your application your first and, if applicable, second choice for Forum—you are not required to express interest in both, and preferences will be taken into account where possible.

If you have any questions, please email Clay Lord at

Important dates:

  • Deadline to complete application: June 9, 2017
  • Notifications of status sent: June 23, 2017
  • Deadline to confirm participation/pay deposit ($500): July 7, 2017
  • Payment due in full for participation: July 21, 2017
  • Arrive at Executive Leadership Forum: 12pm on the Wednesday
  • Depart Executive Leadership Forum: no earlier than 3pm on the Saturday


All registrants must be members of Americans for the Arts.
(Not a P.O. box)
To be used only if necessary during travel and while on-site.

Please indicate below your preference regarding ELF Sundance and ELF Toledo. Indicate your top preference with a 1, your second preference with a 2.

If you are only interested in one of the ELFs, please leave the other ELF blank!

Please agree to the following:

Personal Statement:
Please explain why you feel that the Executive Leadership Forum would be a valuable opportunity for you and your organization.

300 words max