Despite the alarmist title, I’m hoping that this workshop will be the best one yet. We’re about 12 in number and the room is abuzz with conversation even before the workshop officially starts. Officiant is Sandra Gibson; head of Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
3:15 – Introductions Mix of professional organization staff, agents and presenters.
KingsPointe – DelRay Beach Florida; an interesting situation. They present 85 shows a year and are based in a retirement community where retirees are on fixed incomes. I believe they also have a film festival. They cater to residents first, but now are selling show tix to outside residents. They’re bringing in university acts from local universities in Florida. Their president is here and he’s saying that folks are pickier and still scared of the economic climate.
3:20 – Larry Koster of SMG Artists,
1. create greater “member value”
2. APAP is looking for what they can do to help presenters; he will take our input back to the board of directors.
3:23 – Sandra tells us about APAP, which has a convention similar to PAE. They’re surveying presenters needs. They report that layoffs abound, but that presenters are still optimistic.
3:26 – How do we come out of this recession stronger? What planning & fiscal changes need to happen?
3:30 – examples of community arts groups that have bonded during financial hard times to consolidate ticketing, management, promotion staff, etc.
Robert Baird (Agent) – Artists want to work. He tries to make “give-n-takes” work between his artists and presenters.
John @ Paul Taylor Dance Company: we found that the fees didn’t cover our touring expenses. The board of directors affirmed its mission that they are more interested in promoting the art than profit. The fact is that artist fees only cover about 68 cents of every dollar. Old timers will tell you that its still better today than 30 years ago.
The way they used to do it was “booking” on tour. When they stopped and performed, they put the workd out and found some high school or community center near their gig to book their next appearance. Point = there is no business model for the true artists; they are going to be “doing their thing” regardless of the economy. Art will survive because artists are survivors. Just keep reminding the bean-counters of this.
It’s so true that presenters are living off the energy that artists bring to the table. Artists are driven by transformational energy that transcends the economy.
3:42 – J.D. Sutton (artist) reminds us of the Parable of the Talents (N.T.). We are accountable for using what we are given.
Ken Waldman (artist) – Recession? What recession? Presenters have been getting cuts for years. The odd thing is that as tough as it is, it has been tough and states that used to have no money for the arts are now on top in per capita funding (example = Wyoming). Big organizations still haven’t gotten the idea that you can survive significant cuts by changing your “economy of scale”. There are amazing resources out there; identify the folks that get grants. They’re going to survive. Find the people that are prospering in hard times.
Larry Koster – Tribute band “trend” = disturbing. This is an arts bridge to nowhere. Not only are we not supporting emerging artists, but we are going to lose these artists due to “age-out”. Young audiences are unconnected. We must focus on the future of the audiences for fine arts organizations. Our foremost task should be this.
Valerie from Delray Beach. “We can’t afford the original artists, but we’re supporting the next generation of musicians who will develop their craft and write for the next generation of audiences. Tribute shows may not be perfect, but they’re not the devil.
Arthur from DelRay – if it wasn’t for profit making venues like us, grounded in the “real world”, there wouldn’t be a measure of quality.
John @ Paul Taylor. Commercial venues are the reality check for artists. Bad emerging artists are the devil.
Run an organization like a business and don’t try to be a bunch of elitists upheld by brown-nosing peer review grant panels.
Manuel (?) He’s seeing that the relationships built on long-term successes becoming most important. He’s seeing a small market for real art (classical music) and a big market for crossover acts (cellists that play led zepplin mixed w/ flight of bumblebee).
???- (presenter) We’ve gotta fill the seats so we can sell ourselves to sponsors. If new artists don’t fill seats, we can’t use them.
Larry K – I’m saying that presenting should be balance. There is work that needs to be seen by audiences, even if they are unknowns. Artists need to eat.
Arthur – We do bring in talent; don’t think that we are just chasing the dollar. We agree that there’s a mission. Quality is key. Our audiences vote with their feet. If they are not talented folks, they’ll (the audience) vote with their feet. There are great artists who forget when to stop playing. They can come in via casket and they’ll still sell out the venue.
John @ Paul Taylor – If you want to see my dance company but don’t have the money, still tell me. I might be able to work out something. Relationships. Everyone tries to reinvent the conference. These conferences are about relationships and I always find a new presenter. These folks would never call my office, but talking with them on a bus ride begins something that plants the seed for a new presenter/agent relationship. Conferences are about maintaining our family. It’s all about performing. The live experience is what we are about. It’s only reinforced by us meeting face to face. It all starts with a personal relationship.
3:20 PM (Bob from Fla – presenter) – Cooperatives. I’m working with local jazz clubs – doing 50-50 splits. That gets me more shows with no money out of our budget for the act. We have $21 K presenting budget for the year.
Ken (Artist) Summary – It appears that relationships emerge as key in surviving economic turmoil. You never know when serendipity will come, but you have to show up.