As a seasoned Las Vegas performer, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a special place in my heart for certain industry verticals or event venues. However, it’s rare for me to attend an event in which I share not only a special connection with the audience but also a special connection to the venue… but that’s just what happened this Tuesday!
This week, I had the special honor of serving as the opening keynote speaker for the 2022 Arts School Network Conference to help celebrate 30 years of educational excellence in the arts and academics and uplift the incredible administrators and educators who make it all possible. Here’s what you missed from the Lowden Theater at a venue that’s near and dear to my heart, the one-and-only Las Vegas Academy of the Arts!
The Importance of the Arts School Network Vision
Arts School Network is a nonprofit association with a mission to inspire newfound and veteran leaders in K-16 arts schools and a vision to connect leaders with quality resources, support, and networking opportunities to elevate their institutions. ASN, as they’re known for short, encompasses administrators and educators from art schools of all types — from media arts to performing arts — across North America and even the UK.
For someone like myself, a Las Vegas performer turned corporate entertainer and keynote speaker, I cannot overstate the importance of organizations like ASN. As a proud product of the Cape and Sword Drama Society at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philly, I widely attribute who I am both personally and professionally to arts education.
That’s why I involve myself with the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts (LVA), serving on the advisory board and sponsoring the Cisko Sound Scholarship for LVA seniors currently majoring in theater or sound tech. When I arrived at LVA for the 2022 Arts School Network Conference, I was thrilled to discover that the audience of administrators and educators were 100% my people; like-minded and passionate about arts in a young person’s development!
A Kinship with the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts
It might sound silly, but pulling up to the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts feels like coming home to me — like a safe space to nurture talent and guide the performers of tomorrow in the right direction. While I do a lot of keynotes for organizations I admire, I don’t always feel the deep sense of kinship as I do speaking with LVA students and faculty.
Aside from my time on the advisory board for LVA, I do my best to perform regular shows for students and faculty as well as host masterclasses on how to succeed in the entertainment industry. During Covid, I arranged a series of virtual speakers (myself included) for a Q&A on how to make a living in the arts. In other words, I feel very involved with LVA, which made me appreciate 2022 ASN members that much more!
As the host school for the conference, LVA rolled out all the stops to ensure members enjoyed their time in Las Vegas as the host city. We took a tech tour of theaters on the Las Vegas Strip, visited backstage of the iconic Cirque du Soleil, and watched a brilliant student showcase. Up next, it was time for my opening keynote in the Lowden Theater!
Why ASN is the Definition of ‘Work That Matters’
If you couldn’t tell by now, I greatly admire the men and women who dedicate their time to arts education. These faculty members play a pivotal role in helping kids find their voice in an increasingly competitive environment — and I believe that these individuals should be reminded of their importance as much as possible!
So, it was a joy to deliver my ‘Work That Matters’ keynote at the 2022 Arts School Network Conference. ‘Work That Matters’ takes the audience on a journey of self-reflection to remind them of the life events that led them to where they are today, and renew their passion for what they do. Fortunately, the ASN folks certainly did not lack passion!
As I entered the stage of my keynote where I encouraged audience members to share their personal anecdotes, I was blown away by the responses I heard throughout the theater. One read a note from a former student who explained they would have taken their life had it not been for the teacher’s continuous guidance — there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
I find that within organizations that work directly with the general public, like healthcare and education, ‘Work That Matters’ helps remind them of the difference they make in people’s lives. I experienced this recently as the keynote speaker for the Texas Health Care Association and watched it play out live for ASN administrators and educators.
“As the keynote speaker for the Arts Schools Network, Jeff amazed his audience. The combination of his entertaining talent and the focused message left attendees saying “he was the best keynote speaker ASN has ever had” or “that he was the best keynote they have ever seen.” Over 400 educators attended the ASN Conference, and they can be a challenging group. Jeff had their attention from the first minute. In my 34 years as an educator attending two to three conferences yearly, Jeff is the best speaker I have seen at engaging his audiences. He was entertaining and engaging as he shared his story throughout the keynote.
Jeff was so easy to work with in setting up the keynote. We set up a time to discuss who made up our audience and the conference’s goals. Jeff’s keynote hit the mark. The audience was comprised of 400-plus educational leaders and teachers who lived a rough time [as we all did] during the pandemic. In a time with educators leaving the profession, Jeff captivated each person to think of their “origin story.” Why they became educators, and he then shared his own in becoming an entertainer. His message, combined with his wit, talent, and exceptionally engaging manner, left the audience with a positive, powerful, and motivational message that will carry on well after they return home, and I dare say for life. You can’t go wrong with people reflecting and improving communication with others. We all started somewhere.
Jeff is at the top of my list as a speaker who can have a lasting impact that is a potent mix of motivational talk and entertainment. Thank you, Jeff!”
~Susan Jean Thornton, Office of Student Achievement and Communication at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts
“Jeff Civillico was a keynote speaker for the Arts School Network Conference in October of 2022. I worked with Jeff in my roll as co-host for the conference. Jeff knocked it out of the park with his keynote!!!
In the planning leading up to the conference both himself and his team communicated and worked to make sure that he delivered on the themes and connected to the vision and purpose of our organization.
During the keynote, he had everyone laughing, entertained, and engaged. His energy and delivery were contagious and the crowd of 450 arts education leaders from around the country left the keynote in a much better place than where we started. In addition to being entertaining, Jeff’s message was content driven and made an impact that was felt for the rest of the conference. For the rest of the conference I received numerous comments about how Jeff’s keynote was one of the best they had ever seen.
Please consider using Jeff Civillico for your organization.”
~ Brian Downey, Director of Development at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts
A Joy to Be Back in the Lowden Theater at Last
As if I didn’t already share a special connection to arts education and the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, it was truly a treat to take the stage in the Lowden Theater for the 2022 Arts School Network Conference. I have a ton of fantastic memories performing there pre-Covid, so this felt like the ultimate ‘hometown hero’ keynote for me!
The venue itself harkened back to the pre-2020s, when we hosted awesome shows and masterclasses on the Lowden stage. I fly around the world to random ballrooms every week, so it’s fulfilling to be on-site in a location that means so much to me, at a school that means so much to me, speaking to people who mean so much to me.
It warmed my heart to hear LVA principal, Scott Walker, introduce me to Arts School Network members as “one of our own.” As a proponent of arts education (and a major product of it), and performer and keynote speaker for LVA students, it meant a lot for me to serve as the opening keynote speaker here at the Lowden Theater!
Find the Ideal Keynote Speaker for Your Mission
Every organization has a mission, whether it’s education-focused like Arts School Network or positivity-focused like my own nonprofit association, Win-Win Entertainment. When planning your next event, be sure to connect with a keynote speaker that can connect with your mission — a keynote speaker like me! Send me a booking inquiry to get started.