The 98th International Society for the Performing Arts Congress will draw 400 delegates to the Victorian capital.

The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) is a global collective of arts leaders and for the first time in 15 years, the organisation will hold its annual international congress in Australia.

More than 400 delegates from 40 countries are expected to attend the 98th ISPA Congress, which will be hosted at the Arts Centre Melbourne to coincide with The Light in Winter Festival at Federation Square and the opening week of Melbourne’s International Jazz Festival. This year’s theme is ‘Reimagining’, questioning what the future of performing arts should look like through a series of performances and keynote addresses. The Congress will use its location in Melbourne – Australia’s most multilingual city with nearly 500,000 native speakers of Asian languages – as a launchpad to discuss cultural exchange through performance.

The Anthony Field Academy, expressly aimed at emerging local arts leaders wishing to expand their personal and professional networks, will also run during the first two days of the Congress. A spokesperson from the Arts Centre Melbourne told ArtsHub that they are expecting Australians to make up approximately 50% of the delegates in attendance, ranging from arts administrators to presenters and performers. 

The ISPA holds two congresses every year, with one permanently based in the United States. This year’s Congress in New York attracted 535 delegates from 55 countries and 190 cities. The May Congress in Melbourne will be the third congress to be held in the Asia-Pacific region in fifteen years. The last time it was hosted in Australia was in 2001, in Sydney. 

Early bird Congress registrations for the ISPA Conference (30 May – 4 June) are available with a 15% discount before April 1.