Ten students recently returned from a whirlwind trip to New York City where they participated in the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference, a five-day event for arts professionals where presenters, agents, and artists get together to network, conduct business, discover new artists and share the latest news and trends of the industry.
According to Lisa Donovan, associate professor of arts management, this trip is a significant annual opportunity for students to attend one of the most important performing arts events in the field.
“The generous funding, provided by the Alice Shaver Foundation, provides MCLA arts management and performing arts students with unprecedented access to world-class performances in dance, music, theater and to professional development from experts in the field – all set against the arts and culture scene of New York City,” she said.
Attending this conference allowed Maggie Kase ’17 of Newtown, Conn., a double major in arts management and English, to make some meaningful connections with professionals in the field. “But more importantly, I was able to put my work that I’m doing here in the context of the real world, to see where I might fit in the future.”
“It was amazing,” said Diane Scott, assistant professor of arts management. “I’m 44 years old, and I had never been afforded the opportunity to go and see such a diversity of really great work that’s on the cutting edge, throughout New York, for five days. I can’t imagine how it would have changed my trajectory as a human being if I could have done that when I was 20.”
Victoria Page ’17 of Agawam, Mass., agreed. The highlight of the trip for her was the vast amount of art she was exposed to. “Lisa and Diane were right to describe it as an ‘art binge.’ We were emerged 24/7 in the arts, and, for me, there was no better validation for my arts management major,” Page said.
Visits to art galleries during some “down” time included a stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to see the phoenixes on exhibit, and also to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to view “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.”
They also saw “The Scarlet Ibis,” a contemporary opera Scott described as “an amazing amalgamation of contemporary opera plus puppetry, and an amazing light play.” One another evening, they listened to prison blues from the 1940s, blended with electric funk music.
The biggest highlight of the trip for Kathleen Sansone ’16, an arts management major from Acton, Mass., was seeing a production called “Smoke,” at The Flea. “It was great to see such a small theater do wildly inventive and successful work.”
“It was an opportunity to really be immersed, and then simultaneously learn a lot during the mornings, which were spent going to professional development seminars with professionals, talking about the trends in our field,” Scott said.
According to Jordan Goyette ’17, an arts management major from Pawtucket, R.I., “My biggest takeaway from the conference was that even with all of the technology in the world today, the arts are still a ‘people’ industry. I know now that just talking to people is still the best way to connect in the arts world.”
Goyette made some valuable connections with people who work for artist representation agencies. “That’s something I would definitely love to do for a career in the future,” he said.
By the end of the trip, the students felt closer to reaching their goals, said Becky Waterhouse ’17 of Fairport, N.Y. “I have been to New York City a few times, but this trip really proved to me why I am going into the arts,” she said. “The growth of confidence we all experienced as a group stood out to me the most, especially since we come from different backgrounds and have our own aspirations.”
“It was an overall great experience,” said Brendan Jennings ’15 of Montgomery, N.Y. “It was a great professional setting that really showed me a lot about what I want to do in my future.”