Eerie Blackout Timing

Just when Erie officials were about to make a major announcement in August about the construction of a new 125,000-square-foot convention center on Lake Erie, the lights went out. Kevin Molloy, general manager of the soon-to-be-built Bayfront Convention Center, was standing at the podium alongside Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell at around 4 p.m. when the largest blackout in U.S. history hit.

Since the press conference was held outside, the blackout didn't really impact the announcement, but the press left soon after the governor handed over a check for $40 million. It was a photo op gone bad, as press coverage was buried relative to the much larger blackout story. “We hoped to hang around for follow-up interviews,” Molloy says, “but no one was there.”

He adds that groundbreaking is expected in spring 2004 and completion in 2006. The convention center, to be built next to the Erie Maritime Museum, will have 30,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, meeting rooms, and a 1,000-square-foot ballroom.

Unconventional Art

The new Washington Convention Center, with 700,000 square feet of exhibit space and 125,000 square feet of meeting space, is not all brick and mortar, concrete and steel. It also contains the largest art gallery at a convention center in the country.

On November 10, 2003, convention center brass will showcase the museum-quality collection with an opening. About 85 works, including sculptures, paintings, photographs, graphics, and mixed media, will be on display. Half of the artists are from the Washington D.C. area, including Kendall Buster and Larry Kirkland, but national and international artists will also be featured.

One of the most striking exhibits is the 72-foot-high “Shaw Wall,” a montage by several local artists depicting the neighborhood where the convention center is located.

Overall, $4 million was invested in the Washington Convention Center Public Arts Program, creating the largest public arts program in the city. Representatives from the National Gallery, the Smithsonian, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, sit on the executive committee.

For more information on the opening, contact Tony Robinson, director of public affairs, at (202) 249-3218.

Show Off Your Winning Ideas

Organizers of a new expo are looking for your bright ideas. Association Exchange, launched by the Center for Association Leadership, based in Washington, D.C., is an “idea expo” for the association community, says Susan Sarfati, CAE, president and chief executive officer of the center, and president of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, which founded the center.

The exhibit is designed to showcase bold, creative, innovative, and successful programs developed by associations, she says.

In order to exhibit at the show, associations should submit descriptions of their outstanding accomplishments in the areas of membership, communications, meetings and events, and Web site development. The 40 best ideas will be highlighted at tabletop displays at the show. The exhibit fee is $200 for those selected.

The exhibit will be held November 20 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the center. Attendees will vote on the best programs, which will be honored at a reception following the event.

For more information, call (202) 326-9550 or visit www.centeronline.org.