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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

This week's APAP|NYC 2018 focuses on the 'transformative power of the arts'

When The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) convenes for its annual global performing arts gathering, marketplace and membership conference Friday at New York Hilton Midtown and Sheraton New York Times Square, it will be the first one under APAP’s modified name.

Formerly known as The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, APAP changed “Presenters” to “Professionals” shortly after last year’s conference in order to more accurately reflect the makeup of its 1,600 national and international members representing leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performance facilities, nonprofit performing arts centers, culturally specific organizations and foreign governments, as well as artist agencies, managers, touring companies and national consulting practices serving the field--along with a growing roster of self- presenting artists.

“APAP|NYC 2018 will be the first conference under APAP’s new name, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals,” notes APAP president/CEO Mario Garcia Durham. “While for many years the organization and our flagship event have been growing more inclusive and forward-looking, with the name change, APAP is embracing more than ever our role in the evolution of the performing arts industry and the broad definition of the professionals within it.”

The theme of this year’s conference is trans.ACT—a term connoting the “transformative power of the arts.”

According to APAP, both “trans” and the word “act” have numerous iterations (among them “transformation” and “transdisciplinary,” “action” and “activism”) that apply to the performing arts communities and their role relating to the constant and dynamic societal transformation that arts and artists are in the midst of. APAP|NYC 2018’s plenary sessions and professional development forums are therefore designed to explore and discuss the critical issues of artistry, aesthetics, equity, support for the arts and the evolving performing arts industry, as well as APAP’s leadership position.

APAP expects over 3,600 performing arts professional attendees this year, and is staging over 1,000 performance showcases. The Hilton’s EXPO Hall will have 370 exhibitor booths.

Meanwhile, over 50 professional development sessions will focus on eight subject tracks (in addition to daily plenary sessions bolstered by arts entrepreneurs, artists, activists and innovators); these tracks, covering current topics facing both the artist and industry--both in the U.S. and abroad—include: arts and activism; engaging new audiences and communities; presenting international artists; ways to achieve greater inclusion, diversity and equity across the field; and “artrepreneurial” strategies and best practices, innovation in the arts and the art of curation and programming.

Among APAP|NYC 2018’s highlights are Friday’s opening plenary focusing on the role and responsibility of the performing arts in our world today, to be keynoted by Roberta Uno, director of Arts is Changing America, with other speakers including Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater; choreographer and dancer Kyle Abraham; hula vocalist Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole; and moderator Douglas McClennan, founder and editor of ArtsJournal.

On Saturday, the plenary session concerns the impact of transdisciplinary thinking and partnerships that are breaking new ground in both the arts and the world beyond. With playwright and performer Will Power moderating, participants include Ahmed “Knowmadic” Ali, poet and artistic director of Breath in Poetry Collective; youth and social justice advocate Dania Nur; designer/visual artist/builder/skateboarder Ben Ashworth; Garth Ross, VP of community engagement at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Jason Moran, jazz pianist, composer, and Artistic Director for Jazz at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Christina Tsoules Soriano, associate professor and director of the dance program at Wake Forest University; and Christina Hugenschmidt, assistant professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University.

Sunday brings APAP’s first-ever town hall, regarding the artist as activist and featuring visionaries who have embraced the activist role and advocated on issues important to the arts community. Speakers include Ping Chong, writer and director of Socially Engaged Theater; Tanya Selvaratnam, co-founder of The Federation; Lauren Ruffin, VP of external relations at Fractured Atlas; Sean Dorsey, artistic director of Sean Dorsey Dance and the nation’s first acclaimed transgender contemporary dance choreographer; and moderator Keryl McCord, CEO of Equity Quotient.

Monday’s APAP Annual Awards Ceremony will honor Arthur Mitchell, artistic director, choreographer, educator, and co-founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem; world music service organization and festival globalFEST; and Carlton Turner, artist, advocate, and executive director of Alternate ROOTS.

Egyptian comedian/social commentator Bassem Youssef closes APAP|NYC 2018 on Tuesday.

Additionally, on Thursday and Friday prior to the start of the conference, a “Pre-Conference” of professional development sessions—many free and open to the public—will take place at the Hilton, and include a critical discussion on event preparedness, and two first-time forums--one on circus arts and one on transgender arts professionals and allies.

Based in Washington, D.C. and now in its 61st year, APAP is the national service, advocacy and membership organization dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting field, and the professionals who work within it.

The nonprofit works to effect change through advocacy, professional development, resource sharing and civic engagement in advancing the presentation of performing arts.



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