If I didn’t have a life to live with diverse interests, I’d rush out to see every “buzzed about” film coming out of film festivals. Years of disappointment and 35 years of industry expertise has taught me to ignore the chatter. My favorite film of 2018, THE DEATH OF STALIN, happened to be one of those buzzers (Armando Iannucci and Steve Buscemi were why I saw it). By year end awards hoopla, the film wasn’t mentioned once (neither was Charlize Theron’s acting in TULLY which had the same “buzz”). The “tastemakers” are like babies with their new shiny toys, PR flacks know how to distract them with their lollipops.
The most comprehensive annual celebration of the performing arts around the globe, encompassing a convergence of 14major performing arts industry forums and public festivals, is about to take place once again in New York City with the 2019 edition of JanArtsNYC. With the broad menu of cultural events including American Realness (Jan. 4-13; americanrelaness.com), Chamber Music of America Conference (Jan. 17-20l chamber-music.org), Drama League DirectorFest (Jan. 28; directorfest.org), National Sawdust’s FERUS Festival (Jan. 4-8; nationalsawdust.org/festivals-and-series/ferus), globalFEST (Jan. 6; globalfest.org), ISPA Congress (Jan. 8-10; ispa.org), Jazz Congress (Jan. 7-8; jazzcongress.org), NYC Winter Jazzfest (Jan. 4-12; winterjazzfest.com), The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform (Jan. 3-7; joyce.org), Performance Space New York (Jan. 5-31; performancespacenewyork.org), PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now (Jan. 5-13; prototypefestival.org), and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (Jan. 3-13; undertheradarfestival.com), perhaps the most important of these will be the 62ndannual Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference. Taking place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel from January 4-8, the APAP Conference in 2019 will host more than 3,600 performing arts professionals (including persons who represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performing arts facilities, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, artist agencies, managers, touring companies, consultants and self-represented artists) as they experience some 1,000 performance showcases, network at a 370-booth EXPO Hall, and attend professional development and plenary sessions addressing issues impacting their industry.
In the late 1980’s I served for a couple of tours as a concessionaire with American Indian Dance Theatre. While on a Western tour, we found ourselves in Helena, Montana. Taking a much-needed cigarette break in front of our venue I was approached by a slumped shouldered man. “You’re not from around here?” he quipped. “No, I’m from NYC.” “I’m from Chicago” he replied. “I’ve been out here for 5 years, let me tell you how things work here. The legislature meets every two years for three months, and they spend half of that time repealing laws. If they have any time left, they might pass a law or two.”
While the growth in the marketing and selling of books has undeniably and irreversibly been changed by digital media – chiefly by the presence and influence of a company I need not name – the resiliency of the publishing industry is nonetheless demonstrated by manifold developments. As BookExpo America, North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals, prepares to descend upon Manhattan once again, it has been re-branded The Reimagined BookExpo (though the url to access detailed information about it remains www.bookexpoamerica.com) to reflect the evolving nature of the business, and while there will indeed be elements and presentations familiar to the global audience of publishers, writers, agents, booksellers and readers who attend the festivities unfolding at the Javits Center from May 30thto June 1st, there will thus, as always, be new wrinkles reflecting the ever-changing climate.
January is quite possibly the busiest of months for the performing arts in New York City – a place already busier than just about anywhere with options for audiences of music, dance, theater and related disciplines – and so it is fitting that the annual conclave where arts presenters from around the US gather to meet, to see live acts, and discuss the issues surrounding their industry is at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals [APAP] Conference, which took place from January 12-16. Timed to take place in a partnership that includes 11 performing arts industry events throughout the month, under the mantle JanArtsNYC, APAP has as part of its history of programming incubated such events as the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and globalFEST, and thus has occupied a leadership role in the field. As usual, the NY Hilton Hotel was the hub of activity for 2018, with various showcases and other events timed to coincide with the conference going on all over the city.
I have given up on trying to catch all the films getting rave reviews coming off the festival circuit. The waste of time and money this year was ridiculous. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Eve catching up on films that have been littering End of Year Awards lists and have not liked most of them. I can be vicious about certain films but I’ll save that for when I get around to opening a Twitter account which will get me in trouble as my sarcastic wit is appreciated by select well-rounded individuals who don’t live or die on box office tallies.
What’s new for APAP as the 2018 annual conference approaches starts with the name of the organization, which as of September has changed (and meanwhile in a way stayed the same). While the acronym APAP remains, it now stands for Association of Performing Arts Professionals – whereas previously it denoted Association of Performing Arts Presenters – and the switch reflects a desire on the part of membership, consequent to a vote held at the 2017 conference last January, to convey an expansion of the mission of APAP as well as a new initiative to include more arts professionals in its membership. This has been the third name change in the 60-plus year history of APAP – it began as the Association of College and University Concert Managers (ACUCM) in 1957, became the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA) in 1973, and since 1988 has been known as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
WORLDS APART is a small sort of film from Greece with big scope and ambition. The film tells three distinct narratives dealing with three love stories of sort, each representing a distinct generation, and each story involving a Greek National and a foreigner. These three stories are partially unified with recurring motifs. They also overlap with other devices that will not be reviled in this review so not to give away major plot reveals. This structure recalls another film from 2016 which I much enjoyed CERTAIN WOMEN. The use of a love story with universal appeal with its healing powers echoes the early films by Francois Truffaut, a filmmaker I greatly admire.
We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)
I began my career with the investment banking firm JP Morgan, beating the thousands of applicants for a coveted slot and a life of three-piece suits and the dreaded power tie. One plus one equals two, it’s not that hard. When someone offers to double your salary, you take the bait and jump ship. From JP I joined up with an old school brokerage house, soon to be gobbled up by a financial services firm looking to emulate Sandy Weill and Citigroup. I watched the banking industry consolidate, followed by the brokerage industry and, later in my career, the advertising agencies and then the cable stations. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.