Our Impact > Sphinx Spotlight
"Hopefully, by listening to some of the thoughtful speakers we have scheduled, attendees will form new ideas and ways of thinking that they can take back and put into practice in their communities."
Sphinx Spotlight Archive
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Mario Garcia Durham
We had a chance to speak with Mario Garcia Durham, President and CEO of Performing Arts Presenters and a SphinxCon Founding Partner!
What is APAP and why should people attend the conference?
The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) will hold APAP|NYC 2014 in New York City, Jan. 10-14, 2014. The 57th annual APAP conference attracts more than 3,500 performing arts professionals (more than 5,000 if you include pre-conference attendees) from 50 states and almost 30 countries worldwide. Leaders in the performing arts field—artists, agents, presenters, producers—will be offered more than 1,000 world-class artists’ showcases held around the city; A-list keynote speakers, an EXPO Hall with nearly 400 booths and more than 80 professional development sessions, over five days. Pre-conference forums for two days bring additional festivals, events and sessions, many of which are free and open to the public. Details about the conference are available at www.APAPNYC.org. For APAP membership information, visit www.APAP365.org. To register for the conference, see www.apapnyc.org. Follow the conference on Twitter at @APAP365 and #APAPNYC.
The APAP conference brings in an incredibly large number of constituents. How do you make it relevant to the various sectors?
Different attendees of the APAP conference have different needs and expectations. For some attendees what’s critically important is the information they take away from our professional development sessions, our keynote speakers, our plenaries and our discussion groups.
For those looking for new arts experiences, our showcases will offer performances from a full array of artists, including work of countless new and emerging artists.
Many arts leaders attend the APAP conference to make transactions and determine what shows to book back home in their communities for the next year to two years. These bookings are critically important to our agents and managers as well as presenters.
What big things can conference attendees look forward to at APAP this year?
Keynote speakers will discuss trends and what it takes to stay viable to audiences now and later: Keynote speakers, from the worlds of music, dance, or theater, include Diane Paulus, Stephen Schwartz, Fiona Shaw, Kyle Abraham, Wendy Whelan, Taylor Mac, Abigail Washburn and more. Participants will also hear from individuals who catalyze thinking and discussion that bridges the arts and culture, such as comedian Baratunde Thurston, journalist Farai Chideya, Culturbot founder Andy Horwitz, and producer Anne Hamburger.
Eight tracks are offered at APAP|NYC 2014. One track focuses on arts and issues, sessions in that track include: The Creative Case: International Arts Practice with Diversity and Equity at its Heart; Changing the Narrative: Arts and Community Transformation; the Arts and our Environment; Catalyzing Communities and Creating Cultural Equity; The Emerging Role of the Citizen Critic; and, Diversity: Trends, Issues, Opportunities in the Presenting Industry. The other seven tracks cover topics such as the business of presenting; community cultural development; connecting to audiences; arts, education and interdisciplinarity; presenting international artists, and performing arts programming.
Something we are doing different this year on a macro-level is coordinating with nine affiliated performing arts forums and festivals in New York City this January.
This year, APAP|NYC and coordinators of eight other established annual performing arts forums and festivals held on various days between January 3 and 19 are deliberately collaborating to serve the arts community more effectively. Among them are Under The Radar, globalFEST, Winter Jazzfest, FOCUS, PROTOTYPE and COIL. Together WE they feature 1500 showcases and draw 45,000 people to performing arts conferences and events. Topics presented include trends and issues in presenting world music, jazz, dance, festivals, family programs, new artists and more. Together, the organizers of these events fill more than 5,100 hotel nights in New York City. With those guests, and New Yorkers, come taxi fares, restaurant checks, shopping dollars and, of course, tickets to shows. According to NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization, the estimated economic impact of these events in New York is almost $26.9 million.
What do you hope attendees will take away from this year's convening?
I think one of the most important things attendees of the APAP conference can do is share information from the conference with others in the industry. APAP has started to capture some of the speeches and presentations which we want to share as broadly as we can. But it’s important for attendees to take back new experiences, whether they are from our professional development sessions, or from showcases by new artists. Hopefully, by listening to some of the thoughtful speakers we have scheduled, attendees will form new ideas and ways of thinking that they can take back and put into practice in their communities. In this way attendees can make an impact in their communities. This can be critically important as leaders, including arts leaders, come together to rejuvenate or develop their community. By getting involved early in the process, the input of arts leaders and organizations may be incorporated into new development and serve as a coalescing force within a community.
As a founding partner and one of the inaugural speakers for SphinxCon, do you feel that there are cross benefits for the attendees
APAP supports the work of Sphinx in that Sphinx is carrying forward a dialogue that needs to happen that impacts our field. SphinxCon is convening specifically about diversity. At the APAP conference there is a huge array of artists and offerings that touch upon some of the issues that SphinxCon does. While the main purpose of each of our organizations differs, there are some strong commonalities. APAP supports the work of SphinxCon and its focus on diversity, which is a critical issue for the presenting field.
This year's theme at SphinxCon is "Solutions", working together to come up with solutions to the issues of diversity in the performing arts. From your experiences in your various leadership roles, are there any solutions that you might like to share?
The issue of diversity is complex and ongoing. It requires great thought and care. I think one of the key aspects of diversity is equity, and respect in equally shared dialogue. There has to be a level playing field in the dialogue, and that’s a critical aspect that’s often challenging, because of the various power dynamics, resources and lack of equity. I think what it boils down to is shared respect for various view points, histories and opinions, and that there’s a real attempt at achieving equity as much as possible in conversation, practice and dialogue.
To read more about Mario and APAP, go to the APAP website