While New York is justly celebrated as a center of culture year-round, in January this distinction is magnified by the confluence of several events concentrated not only on the presentation of diverse practitioners of the performing arts, but equally dedicated to the business, aesthetics, logistics and issues involved with the realm of live performance. Given New York’s situation as a gateway to the US and its distinction as a global city, this entails both national and international aspects.
The most prominent event taking place is the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference, happening January 15-19 at various venues throughout the area. It is the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, and more than 3,600 presenters, artists, managers, agents and emerging arts leaders from all 50 US states and more than 30 countries will be on hand. While much of the activity will be focused on the New York Hilton Hotel – the headquarters of the conference, where panels, meetings, plenaries and showcase performances will be taking place – the conference truly envelops the city, as more than 1,000 showcase performances will be happening at venues throughout the city, making for a grand festival including music, dance, theater, and other interdisciplinary and related forms.
Given the timing of the conference – it will coincide with the MLK Holiday weekend – it figures to provide a platform for many voices to explore the ways artists and presenters can engage in outreach to bridge issues relating to humanitarian and social justice concerns. Plenary sessions will directly address global communities in crisis, exploring more ways to open access to the performing arts, and professional development. Additionally, the progressive growth of technology as a means to both develop and distribute culture will certainly be an important topic of discussion. Speakers will include Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS; Bill T. Jones, who will be premiering a new piece at the opening session; Carla Dirlikov Canales, a young rising opera singer who’s founded a cross-cultural project; Anna Deavere Smith, noted for her stellar one-woman performances and various acting roles (and currently artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress); Lisa Kron, actress, playwright and Tony Award winner for Best Book for “Fun Home”; Bartlett Sher, director of “The King and I” (winner of the Tony for Best Musical); and 2015 Kennedy Honors recipient Rita Moreno – the only Latina to win all four major entertainment awards (Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy).
Part of the APAP program is a partnership entitled ‘January in NYC’, a collaborative initiative involving a dozen festivals, forums and conferences focusing on the performing arts, unfolding over staggered dates from January 5-19. These include American Realness; APAP World Music Pre-Conference; COIL 2016; Chamber Music America; globalFEST; Jazz Connect; The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform; PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theater/Now; The Public Theater’s Under The Radar; and Winter Jazzfest. Also included, with a more global accent, particularly geared towards arts interchange from and to other nations, will be the ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) 2016 Congress, from January 12-14; here more than 400 delegates from over 40 countries will be in attendance, as well as the 48 recipients of the 2016 ISPA Fellowship programs.