Budgeting for an ACDA Conference

The host institution handles all monies for its conference. It collects registration, adjudication, and any additional fees. The host school keeps 85% of registration fees; 100% of adjudication fees; 100% of profits up to $5,000; and 80% of profits exceeding $5,000. (Following the conference’s completion, ACDA will invoice the host institution for 15% of registration fees and 20% of profits exceeding $5,000.) It is important to note that the host school assumes the financial risk for the conference. If there is a net profit, the host school keeps it to support its programs (with the exception noted above); if there is a loss, the host school takes responsibility for covering it. Almost all conferences make a profit—some small, some large—and the few conferences that have not made a profit incurred expenses on items not required for hosting.

There is no formula for building a conference budget because budget factors differ for every institution. Some institutions provide space and services at no charge; some charge for everything; most fall between the extremes. There are, however, budgetary demands that all conferences will encounter. ACDA provides all hosts with detailed documents to help the host plan for most expenses. Conference Coordinators submit a preliminary budget for review by the ACDA Treasure and the Executive Director, who can identify inconsistencies or figures that do not fall within the norms of hosting expenses and incomes.

Below are general factors to consider in budgeting for your conference:


Adjudicator Expenses

  • Honoraria. Adjudicators will be paid according to the Standard Adjudication Fee Policy. Honoraria range from $1600-$2200 depending on the number of dances adjudicated. Adjudicators performing during the conference may receive additional compensation. (See Standard Adjudicator Fee Policy for details.)
  • Transportation, food, lodging. There are several ways to work out food for adjudicators: per diem, providing meals, reimbursing receipts. Some coordinators negotiate comp rooms at conference hotels and use them for adjudicators; other coordinators choose to house the adjudicators in accommodations separate from conference participants (recommended). It is also thoughtful to provide snacks and water during adjudication and feedback sessions.

Total adjudicator expenses generally range between $8,000 and $11,000.


  • Unless a musician is full-time faculty, plan on paying musicians to accompany classes. Estimate how many classes need to be covered, keeping in mind that some faculty now opt for using iPods rather than musicians. Musician compensation has ranged in recent years is from $30-$50/class. You may also need to negotiate travel, food, and accommodations. (Make sure to negotiate comped rooms with the conference hotels to use for this or other purposes.)

Managerial/production costs:

  • lighting designer, technical director, box office manager, stagehands, and any secretarial/administrative staff you may need.   Depending on their status with your institution, you may need to provide food (especially with a tight tech schedule) and accommodations. Not all hosts incur personnel expenses because often work is contributed as in-kind for the conference or considered as past of a faculty/staff workload.

Institutional Surcharges:    

  • Some universities impose surcharges on any income that comes into their institution.  Please make sure that you are fully aware of how the finances will work on your campus.  For the most part, conferences are able to use all the funds that come in through registration and adjudication fees, merchandise sales, grants, etc., and to use profits from the conference for their own program; however, in recent years there have been a few instances of a university taking a cut (ranging from 5-10%). If this is the case for you, it is very important to know at the beginning of the planning process, not the end.


  • Most host institutions will cover the conference under their liability policies.       Occasionally a conference may have to purchase an event policy specifically to cover the conference.       It is recommended to look into damage insurance as well.

Space rental:

  • theater, class space, reception hall, etc. (varies widely from school to school)

Equipment rental:

  • lighting equipment, sound systems, floor rental.


  • opening, student, faculty, gala/closing.       Most conferences schedule a faculty dinner. Some conferences charge an additional fee for the dinner; other host schools cover the costs of the dinner.

Printing, stationary, envelopes, postage, programs, posters, telephone

  • Much of this might be in-kind donation from your school or department. With online registration and email, postage and paper costs should be relatively low.

Custodial fees:

  • if your conference is held over a school break, you may have to pay for custodial support.

Staff meals

First aid equipment

  • Dancers are expected to provide the usual supplies, e.g., band-aids, but it’s a good idea to provide instant icepacks at selected locations for emergency purposes. This may be an “in-kind” donation if your department has this on hand.

Guest artist and/or guest teacher fees.

ACDA Assessment Fees:

  • Conferences are assessed 15% of all paid registration fees. This fee supports the ACDA national office and pays for the website and online registration processing fees.


  • It is strongly recommended to build in a $5,000 cushion for the unexpected, such as accidental damage to theater property or providing special accommodations for qualified participants.


  • Registration fees
  • All registrants must pay a registration fee with the exception of ACDA Board Members and musicians playing for classes.
  • The recommended registration fee is $125/registrant. The maximum allowable registration fee is $135. In extenuating circumstances a Conference Coordinator may, after the completion and submission of the preliminary budget, petition for an exception to this policy.
  • When budgeting, remember that 15% of each registration must be sent to the ACDA national office after the conference to cover organizational costs.
  • Adjudication fees ($150/dance)
  • Maximum of two dances per school.
  • Maximum of 48 dances per conference. (Note: host institutions do not pay a fee to have their own dances adjudicated; do not include in budget.)
  • Box office: Schools with large theaters often opt to sell tickets to the public for adjudicated, guest, faculty, or gala concerts that are part of their conference. Smaller facilities may not be able to accommodate additional audiences beyond those registered for the conference.
  • T-shirt, water and food sales to conference participants. (Consult with national office on t-shirt orders.)
  • Other: Program ads, vending
  • Grants (state, local arts agencies), university support


  • Office supplies, postage, etc.
  • Sponsored receptions/dinners from university administrative offices. For example, the Provost’s office might pay for the faculty reception.
  • Personnel—Administrative support, Technical support, etc.
  • Community support/donations. For example, local restaurants might donate food for lunches or receptions in exchange for publicity.
  • Local super markets and restaurants may donate food for receptions.
  • Personnel—Administrative support, Technical support, etc.
  • Community support/donations. For example, local restaurants might donate food for lunches or receptions in exchange for publicity.
  • Local super markets and restaurants may donate food for receptions.


© American College Dance Association, 2016


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