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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

2017 APAP conference convenes this week in New York to confront performing arts industry challenges

Helping arts organizations stay healthy is the overriding theme at next month's 60th annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) global performing arts gathering, marketplace and membership conference, to be held Jan. 6-10 at the New York Hilton Midtown and the Sheraton New York Times Square hotels.

But APAP|NYC 2017 will again spread beyond the two bases, what with over 1,000 world-class performance showcases; some 370 exhibitors promoting their artists and their work in the Expo Hall, more than 60 professional development sessions, the annual APAP awards luncheon, and a free classical music concert at Carnegie Hall.

Indeed, both APAP|NYC 2017, January 6-10, and its preconference January 5-6, will bring together artistry and industry in enhancing the creativity, knowledge and experience of an estimated 3,600 performing arts professionals--artists, agents, managers and arts presenters representing 30 countries and all 50 U.S. states--to discuss important trends in performing arts, explore anticipated future challenges and opportunities, and conduct business via the Expo Hall and artist showcases focusing on dance, music, theater, opera, family programming and multidisciplinary collaborations.

"APAP|NYC presents significant opportunities, economically and creatively, for the performing arts community," says APAP president/CEO Mario Garcia Durham. "We provide a platform for those working in performing arts to engage in discussions and solutions around pressing current issues such as cultural conflict and social justice. These are issues that have intensified since last January and that resonate throughout our communities--and fuel our collective need for innovation, creativity and partnership. We will also further explore the real challenges of equity, access and inclusion continually being addressed by performing arts community leaders."

This year's APAP conference theme is FLOW. According to Durham, it's "in synch with what arts organizations and artists are experiencing post-election."

"This year our members and guests will gain particular insight, strength and creativity when convening together," says Durham. "Some, including guest artists, have expressed that they are particularly looking forward to our gathering this January after a tough 2016 that left many feeling isolated or pondering the dichotomy of social concerns and priorities in our country that bubbled further up to the surface during the pre-election campaign season.”

Durham adds: "We are here to help our members navigate and 'flow through' the transition of governments locally, nationally and internationally by offering support and tips for educating and briefing new officials about the importance the performing arts play in every community and in society as a whole. We'll do what we always do, while also looking for more opportunities to bring additional audiences and artists into the performing arts and providing a platform for performing arts professionals to engage in discussions and solutions around pressing current issues such as cultural conflict, social justice, and overcoming the challenges of equity, access and inclusion. Arts organizations are leading in a time politically that requires a continual flow of thoughtfulness, planning and action to ensure creativity, relevance and sustainability."

Among the noted speakers, panelists, moderators and honorees at APAP|NYC are Laurie Anderson, who will receive the Award of Merit for Achievement in Performing Arts at the annual APAP awards luncheon hosted by Ben Vereen; Australian singer and artistic director Robyn Archer; choreographer Jonah Bokaer; dancer-choreographer Camille A. Brown, dean of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater and Dance Aaron Dworkin; opera composer Paola Prestini; Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts dean Steven Tepper; Arab-American comedienne Maysoon Zayid; dancer-choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and playwright-actor/singer-songwriter Taylor Mac, who will close the conference.

Plenary and featured sessions include "MC (Makers of Culture) = FLOW: What is Our Role in Affecting Social Change and Resilience?," "How to Succeed in Hip-Hop Without Selling Your Soul," "Asian American Artists in an #OSCARsoWhite World," APAP’s "Cultural Exchange Laboratory" (for identifying, booking and touring international artists) and the "Building Bridges" initiative geared to Muslim societies. Most preconference professional development sessions, meanwhile, are open to the public, with many of them free.

APAP|NYC serves as the hub of annual January in NYC arts activities in New York beginning today and running through Jan. 22. These involve 12 festivals and conferences drawing 45,000 professionals and enthusiasts, notably including American Realness, Wavelengths: APAP World Music Pre-Conference, Performance Space 122’s COIL Festival, Chamber Music America, globalFEST, Jazz Connect Conference, The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform, New York ISPA 2017 Congress, PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theater/Now, The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and NYC Winter Jazzfest.

The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is the national service, advocacy and membership organization for presenters of the performing arts and is dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts industry and the professionals who work within it. As part of its year-round programs and services, it manages over $3 million in arts and cultural grants to assist organizations and communities.



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