Mechanics Hall | 321 Main Street, Worcester, MA

The Idea Swap is an annual event for New England-based nonprofit cultural organizations and touring artists to network and share ideas for touring projects.

Learn more about last year's event

Event Resources:

To ensure diversity of participating organizations and allow for optimal networking, there is a limit of three individuals per organization. Organizations are strongly encouraged to prioritize participation by staff directly involved in arts programming.

Call for Touring Ideas: How to Submit & Present Projects 

In addition to networking, Idea Swap participants are encouraged to share touring ideas in all stages of development with their colleagues from around the region. Approximately 15 project ideas are selected in advance to make five-minute presentations at the Idea Swap. Please see below for more details and how to present. 

Mini-swaps are changing this year! Participants must submit projects by October 9 for a chance to pitch in a mini-swap time slot.

How to Submit & Discover Touring Ideas

Submit your project idea on the Project Ideas page by October 9. Visit the page to find out what other New England presenting organizations and performing artists are working on. Project ideas will be listed on this page before and after the Idea Swap, and will be distributed in hard copy to all event participants.  

Submit a Project Idea 

Present Your Project Idea at the Idea Swap 

In advance of the Idea Swap, NEFA selects approximately 15 projects from the Project Ideas page to make five-minute presentations at the Idea Swap. Participants also have opportunities to pitch ideas in smaller breakout sessions.  


Tuesday, October 29

Presenters and artists are invited to join New England Presenters (NEP) and Arts Presenters of Northern New England (APNNE) for an evening social gathering that will include opportunities for networking. 

Events take place at the AC Hotel, 125 Front Street, Worcester, MA 01604. Parking: Worcester Common Garage.

5:00-7:00 PM | New England-based Presenting Organizations

Join your peers on the eve of the NEFA Idea Swap to network, exchange ideas/challenges, learn more about NEP and APNNE, and share your professional development and career advancement needs. *NEP/APNNE membership not required

7:00-8:30 PM | Meet & Greet with Idea Swap Participants

New England-based artists and presenters are invited to mingle the night before Idea Swap to get a head start on getting to know new faces and catching up with colleagues. The event will be informal, unstructured, and requires no preparation.

Light fare and cash bar. RSVP encouraged, but not mandatory. Please click here to RSVP.

Wednesday, October 30 

See who's coming to Idea Swap

09:15-9:45 AM | New to NEFA or Idea Swap | Boyden Salon
Meet and mingle with NEFA staff and colleagues.

09:30-10:00 AM | Registration Opens in Washburn Lobby & Light Breakfast

10:00-11:00 AM | NEFA Welcome & Overview of New England Presenting & Touring Programs
An overview of the New England Presenting & Touring programs and application process. 

11:15-12:00 PM | Project Presentations – Part 1 
5-minute project presentations by New England-based presenters and artists:

  1. Thea Hopkins - In The Roundhouse: Contemporary Native American Music | Thea Hopkins
  2. Nobuntu - Nobuntu | Liza Sachelli and Allison Coyne Carroll | Middelbury College, Mahaney Arts Center
  3. David Dorfman Dance - A (Way) Out of My Body | Shannon Mayers | Keene State College, Redfern Arts Center
  4. Byron Au Yong & Aaron Jafferis - Activist Songbook |  Melissa Huber | International Festival of Arts & Ideas
  5. Jean Appolon Expressions - Traka | Jean Appolon and Andrea Blesso Albuquerque | Jean Appolon Expressions
  6. Presenting Circus in New England | Lori N. Jones | Fairfield University, Quick Center for the Arts
  7. Lee Mixashawn Rozie - An American Songbook... Spontaneous Being | Steve Raider Ginsburg & Lee Mixashawn Rozie | University of St. Joseph, Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities

12:00-1:15 PM | Lunch & Networking 
Optional: Sign up at registration to join a lunch table to gather with your colleagues with similar interests.

1:15-2:00 PM | Mini Swap Sessions
Participants break out into small groups to informally share project ideas in quick, two to three-minute succession. 

2:00-2:15 PM | From Idea Swap to a Tour
Presenters and artist Samite share how their new partnership unfolded, which led to a regional touring project supported by NEFA.

2:15-3:00 PM | Project Presentations – Part 2 
5-minute project presentations by New England-based presenters and artists:

  1. Double Edge Theatre - A Surrealist Journey Through Living Culture | Adam Bright | Double Edge Theatre
  2. PearlDamour - Ocean Filibuster | Lisa D’Amour and Diane Borger | American Repertory Theater
  3. Vanessa Anspaugh - Aggression Confession | Shoshana Currier | Bates Dance Festival
  4. Sphinx Virtuosi - Sphinx Virtuosi | Aimée Petrin | Portland Ovations
  5. Hari Krishnan/Indance - Siva Kissed Visnu | Fiona Coffey | Wesleyan University, Center for the Arts
  6. Small Island Big Song - Small Island Big Song | Ty Furman | Boston University Arts Initiative
  7. Leonardo Sandoval - Partido | David R. White | The Yard
  8. Anthony Hudson, George Roo DeLesslin, Storme Webber, Kenny Ray Ramos, and J. Miko Thomas - Queer Indigenous Art Festival | Karen Henderson | Dartmouth College, Hopkins Center for the Arts
  9. Castle of Our Skins - Ain’t I A Woman | Ashleigh Gordon | Castle of Our Skins

3:00-4:00 PM | Dessert & Networking 
Mix and mingle with folks you haven’t met yet and connect with peers. 

Travel Support for Idea Swap Attendees

Update, October 25, 2019: Funding for travel support is no longer available.

NEFA is pleased to offer travel funds to Idea Swap attendees. If you meet the following eligibility requirements, please contact Daniela Jacobson, Program Manager, at djacobson@nefa.org to request travel support. Funding is limited.

The following individuals are eligible for travel reimbursements from NEFA: 

  • Artists traveling more than 100 miles
  • Presenters who have not attended Idea Swap before or have an organizational budget under $1 million

Parking & Carpool 

Mechanics Hall does not have parking for visitors, but there are several parking options in downtown Worcester. The nearest parking lots are on Waldo Street, Exchange Street, East Central Street, Main Street, and the Elm Street Garage. There is limited on-street parking available. Remember to bring cash for parking.  

View parking lots in the surrounding area 

Need a ride/have a ride? Sign up to carpool 

Accessibility Information 

Mechanics Hall Accessibility 

Individuals with disabilities are welcome to participate at Idea Swap. The main meeting spaces are accessible for individuals who use wheelchairs. If you need any ADA accommodations, services, or auxiliary formats to support your full participation, please contact Daniela Jacobson, Accessibility Coordinator at djacobson@nefa.org or 617-951-0010 ext. 528 by October 9.

Please note:  

  • The front entrance to Mechanics Hall on Main Street is not wheelchair accessible. For elevator access, enter Mechanics Hall at the back entrance on Waldo Street.  
  • We recommend parking on Waldo Street for individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. On-street parking is available on Waldo Street, and the sidewalks have curb-cuts. There is a parking lot directly across from Mechanics Hall’s back entrance. 
  • Wheelchair accessible restrooms are located on the 3rd level at the back entrance to the Great Hall. 
  • Please note there are steps to the restrooms and Board Room on the 2nd level, both of which are not wheelchair accessible. 
  • For immediate assistance at the event, please go to the Registration table in Washburn Lobby for support from NEFA staff. We will do our best to accommodate your participation.


The following hotels are listed in order of proximity to downtown Worcester: