Does the AAN Convention Need to Change?

That question to be focus of Fall board meeting

The AAN board of directors will devote half of its Fall meeting to an in-depth discussion about the role of the association’s annual convention.

“This year’s convention received high marks from attendees, but after it was over several active members began asking whether we need to make some changes to keep things fresh,” said AAN President Bill Towler. “So we’re going to set aside some time at the next meeting to re-examine our assumptions.”

Towler said the board would address broad issues, like who the convention is for and what is its purpose, and not details like topics and speakers.

“We need to talk about it now before the convention-programming and committee process gets rolling,” Towler said, “There’s still time to make adjustments in time for Pittsburgh, if that’s what we decide we want to do.”

Next year’s convention will be held June 4-7 in Pittsburgh.

Convention paid attendance has dropped precipitously since it reached a high of 657 in 2000 in Phoenix. It fell to 520 last year in New Orleans and declined further still to 346 at this year’s confab in Madison, Wis.

“It’s obvious that the recession and industry consolidation have played a role in the declining numbers,” said Executive Director Richard Karpel. “But maybe it’s also the publishers’ way of telling us that the event is no longer meeting their needs. We’ll never know unless we take a look.”

The board meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Pittsburgh Hilton, the host hotel for next year’s convention. The convention discussion will be held during the second half of the meeting, from 2-5 p.m. Non-board member publishers are invited to attend and participate in the convention discussion.

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