Arts Presenters Gone Wild

So, another Arts Presenters Conference has come and gone, leaving behind a sea of exhausted performers and curators.

P.S. 122 and Mark Russell held a panel called “Moving Under the Radar” where Mark was joined by Caden Manson from Big Art Group, Tim Etchells from Forced Entertainment, Melanie Joseph from The Foundry Theatre and Philip Bither from The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In the audience were a number of artists, presenters, curators and funders including Rinde Eckert, Sarah Richardson from Austin’s Rude Mechanicals and Chuck Helm from the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.

It was a pretty interesting and free-ranging conversation. There was some discussion about how performance work is made and the differences between “performance” and Capitol “T”-Theater. Some discussions on finding and cultivating audiences for challenging work across the country and also the challenges of trying to tour work.

There were a lot of good ideas tossed about, a lot of discussion. The challenges seem to break down into two major categories. For presenters (especially non-New York presenters) it can be difficult to fund visiting artists and find audiences for “difficult” work. For artists, since there’s no clear touring mechanism in place (compared to, say, bus-and-truck productions of Broadway musicals or symphonies), it can be difficult to take your work to new audiences. Not to mention the fact that inter-community artistic dialogue is nearly impossible, much less international.

And then an additional problem is that often, outside of the big cities, there’s a dearth of people who know how to write about non-traditional work in a meaningful way.

What do you think?

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