The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), is a national service, advocacy, and membership organization for presenters of the performing arts. With more than 5,000 professionals from over 1,600 members both nationally and internationally, the APAP community is comprised of performing arts centers, arts venues, university performing facilities, artist agencies and management firms, touring companies, consulting practices, vendors, and self-presenting artists. APAP is dedicated to supporting the performing arts industry and those who work in them through professional development, resource sharing, advocacy and civic engagement.
In line with their mission and goals, this past week, I was able to participate in their FREE monthly webinar series. Taking place on the third Thursday of every month, includes dynamic discussions by arts experts, innovators, and creative leaders.
This month’s webinar tackled the question- “What is the role of an arts presenter in a community in crisis?” The conversation, moderated by Ebony Golden- Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, along with an esteemed panel: Kibibi Ajanku- Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Paul Flores- Poet & Playwright, and Nick Slie- Mondo Bizarro spoke on the role arts presenters can take to engage communities in times of crisis.
We currently live in times of unrest. Our communities are constantly facing challenges in terms of violence, social justice issues, climate change and much more. Paul spoke about how he uses the arts as a means of community engagement and healing for neighborhoods particularly impacted by gang violence through a program called “Placas” or the removal of gang tattoos. He believes when we can acknowledge others pain as our own pain, it creates a safe place to begin the healing process. Kibibi talked about having a theme of peace in the art to spark change. Nick uses art as a way to address and bring awareness to crisis and tell the stories of those voices that are typically not heard.
As arts presenters, we are in a position where we can take a message and change it to make it positive. There is that challenge that as presenters we are a business and we do need to sell tickets to make “money.” Sometimes the program may be too “radical” or too “political” for our audiences. However, this can be successfully done through great partnerships. If we collaborate with the right folks, funders, policymakers, and non-arts partners, you can have the right impact on the right people. The focus needs to be on the goal and the influence you hope to achieve.
APAP has an annual convening in January in New York City. The next conference will take place January 6-10, 2017 at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan. I’ve been to this conference in the past and it is great. It is the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals. There is such a great energy there and I love it! Bringing more than 45,000 people from around the globe, the conference includes plenary sessions, an EXPO hall- a place to research new artists and touring productions, over 1,000 showcases across the city which give you the opportunity to see artists from around the world and meet their agents, special interest sessions, networking, and one-on-one consultations just to give you a taste of what is going on.
Here is a video about the APAP conference:
To learn more about APAP, please visit their website here!