The Idea Swap is the annual event for New England-based nonprofit cultural organizations and touring artists to network and share ideas for touring projects. This year, we plan to reconvene in person at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA. Capacity will be limited, and participants are strongly encouraged to register early.

Key Dates

  • Early Bird Registration Deadline: October 7, 2022
  • Project Ideas Due: September 30, 2022 
  • Registration Closes: October 22, 2022
  • Idea Swap: November 2, 2022


Schedule of Events | November 2

  • 10:30 AM: Welcome
  • 11:00 AM: Project Presentations
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch
  • 1:30 PM: Conversations from the field
  • 2:00 PM: Mini Swaps
  • 2:45 PM: Project Presentations
  • 3:30 PM: Next Steps & Closing Reflections

Schedule of Virtual Events | September-October

Informational Webinar about New England States Touring (NEST) 3 support

September 22, 1:30-3:00 pm

Organizations based in New England are highly encouraged to attend the Idea Swap to learn more about potential New England States Touring (NEST) 3 tours and identify tour partners. NEST 3 grants support the presentation of artists from anywhere in the world and presenting partners across multiple New England states are required.

Welcome to the Field hosted by APAP (free and open to non-APAP members)

September 22, October 6, and November 3 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm (ET)

Are you new to the presenting, booking and touring industry or in a new role at a venue? Designed by performing arts professionals for performing arts professionals, Welcome to the Field provides practical information and advice on navigating the business of this industry as you prepare for the current programming, booking, touring and conference season.

Learn How to Search CreativeGround

September 27, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Learn how to use CreativeGround to find collaborators or explore your community. Increase your profile's chances of coming up in search results with pro-tips.

CreativeGround 101

September 30, 2:00 – 3:00 pm

Get a basic overview of the platform and how this tool can serve you and your community.

How to Use CreativeGround as a... Performing Artist

Friday, October 7, 2:00-3:00 PM

Part of a series of webinars throughout October, where The CreativeGround team gives you tailored pro-tips on how to use the site based on your creative practice.

How to Make the Most Out of Idea Swap: A First Timers Guide

October 10, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Recommended for all first-time participants!

An insider’s guide to understanding NEFA, how the Idea Swap supports New England’s presenting and touring field, and how to make the most out of participating. It’s also a chance to meet NEFA staff and fellow participants in advance of November 2.

COVID-19 Policy  

We will continue to monitor and update safety precautions for Idea Swap regularly and coordinate with trusted national resources, state and local public health agencies, and Mechanics Hall, the venue hosting the event. See the complete list of Mechanics Hall Covid Safety and Cleaning protocols. 

To help attendees communicate their level of comfort in interacting with one another, NEFA will provide color-coded name badges to all onsite attendees: 

  • Red = Greet From 6 Feet  
  • Yellow = Elbows Only  
  • Green = Handshakes, Hugs, or Hi-fives  


NEFA strongly encourages individuals to be tested for COVID prior to traveling to Idea Swap. Individuals who test positive, or are experiencing symptoms should stay home. Your registration will be refunded.

All participants at the in-person Idea Swap, whether a presenter, attendee, exhibitor, staff, guest, or vendor will be fully vaccinated.*  The CDC updated their Vaccines website to indicate the status of "Fully Vaccinated" and "Up to Date."

  • "Full vaccination" means that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized (or emergency use authorized) double-dozed vaccines or single-dose vaccine. 
  • "Up to Date" means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. 

NEFA is following the CDC definition of fully vaccinated for vaccination requirement for the event, but we encourage individuals who are eligible to receive the booster prior to attending the event.

*Individuals who are unable to be vaccinated (for medical exemptions only) may attend if they have received a negative PCR Covid test result within 48 hours of the event. Please contact presentingtouring@nefa.org prior to attending to verify your exemption. Unvaccinated individuals will be expected to comply with all other guidelines outlined in this policy. 


Capacity will be limited, and whenever practical social distancing will be strongly encouraged. There will be fewer seats at each table, and options for eating alone or in smaller groups. We encourage all participants to take the precautions necessary to feel comfortable attending this in-person event. 


All participants of Idea Swap agree to correctly wear masks (KN95, N95) throughout the event except when presenting or eating/drinking. Please be mindful and respectful of other attendees’ comfort level when eating/drinking. A supply of KN95 masks will be available onsite for those who need them.


Breakfast will not be provided. Coffee/Tea/Water will be available throughout the day. Boxed lunches will be provided and additional spaces at Mechanics Hall will be made available for those wishing to maintain social distancing while eating. In addition, Worcester Common, a public green space, is located an approximately 5min walk away for those wishing to eat outside. 


Directions and Parking at Mechanics Hall 

See directions and parking at Mechanics Hall

The Waldo Street entrance at Mechanics Hall is wheelchair accessible, with direct access to elevators. 

Please note there is no free parking at Mechanics Hall. It’s recommended that participants staying overnight leave their car at the hotel if possible. The following hotels are a short distance to Mechanics Hall: 

What is the Idea Swap?


Read the Idea Swap Video Transcript

Learn more about last year's virtual event