ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Riverside Convention Center is hosting the first conference since March of 2020. Pre-pandemic, Rochester’s tourism brought in $1 billion dollars annually and supported 20,000 jobs.
The center said they have had to rehire almost all of their staff to fulfill the upcoming The College Music Society event. The next conference downtown is for optical technologies and takes place in late October.
The College Music Society is bringing 350 people to the city to for keynotes, panels and performances. Visit Rochester Sales director Wendy O’Duffy says this conference is good restart for the city.
“Going out and spending money in our hotels and our restaurants, and our shops, and our attractions, it’s a huge economic driver,” she said. “Tourism brings a lot of dollars to our community and we’ve obviously lacked that during the pandemic.”
In the U.S. there are 5 major music societies in higher education. President of the college music society Mark Rabideau says this society is the only one to host an in-person convention this year.
“Because upstate New York has done such a terrific job of controlling the pandemic, because the University of Rochester and the Eastman school of music have a 97 percent vaccination rate,” he said.
The society’s executive director Bill Pelto says this is a new opportunity for numerous students.
“We’ll have many students here who have never been to an academic conference,” he said. “This is really the beginning of their career as academic scholars and professionals.”
Through keynotes, panels and performances, Rabideau says a focus of the convention is on how to transform the future of the music industry.
“This is an opportunity to bring our community together to see how art and social justice can challenge us to do better in the world,” he said.
“We appreciate them coming and bringing their conference to us and kicking off our convention, uh, convention season,” O’Duffy added.