Q: What is the goal of the Symposium?

Chicagoland’s 50-plus film festivals are the engine behind local and regional cinema culture. The goal of the Symposium is to bring together leaders and stakeholders in this space to better understand our collective work as an industry, and to identify possible strategies we can adopt to help us build a vibrant — and economically sustainable — arts sector.


Q: Who’s organizing this? And why?

The Symposium was borne out of conversations between film festival organizers who realized they had shared challenges and wondered if there might be ways for festivals to share resources and work together towards the common goal of sustainability. The steering committee consists of representatives from Full Spectrum Features, Chicago Feminist Film Festival, One Earth Film Festival, and In/Motion Dance Film Festival.

The Symposium is co-presented by the Chicago Film Office, and is supported by a grant from the Arts Work Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Chicago Community Trust.


Q: How will my festival/organization benefit in the long-term?

The Symposium is designed with an eye towards action. With ongoing support from the Arts Work Fund, the Symposium will result in 1-2 proposals/initiatives that will be beta-tested in 2020. All participating festivals will stand to benefit from this work, and are welcome to contribute as much or as little as is feasible for them.

Examples of possible initiatives to be beta-tested:

  • “Film Festival Pass”(similar to the City Pass for museums)

  • Chicagoland Film Festival Alliance (membership-based professional association)

  • Industry-wide audience development / data analytics project

  • Coordination of group/bulk purchasing


Q: What happens before?

We will engage all registered attendees with surveys and light data collection (e.g., audience numbers), as well as more informal opportunities for starting the conversation before the day of the Symposium. We will keep the time commitment to a minimum, and of course any and all disclosures will be kept confidential and are entirely optional.


Q: What happens after?

Following the Symposium, the steering committee will produce an “executive summary” of the proceedings, which will be distributed to all registered attendees. This will include 1-2 proposals/initiatives that will be beta-tested in 2020. Throughout this process, participating organizations will be invited to provide feedback and data that will help us to measure impact and success.