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.

APAP president and CEO Mario Garcia Durham explains that “our name has changed once again to reflect not only growth, but also the range of experience and expression in our field,” adding that “the new name more perfectly describes the full range of distinctive roles professionals play, from the creation to the presentation and dissemination of the performing arts”; ultimately, he says that “APAP is dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting field and the professionals who work within it, and we aim to deliver on our promise in a number of ways.” As part of this evolving nature of the organization, this year it has introduced a pilot initiative called Artist Access – a one-year introductory membership program allowing qualified individual professional artists who’ve never been an organizational member previously, and who have never attended APAP as a full registrant, to become a member and attend its annual members conference at reduced rates (information about this can be found at artistaccess.apap365.org).

The dates of the 61st annual APAP member conference in 2018 will be January 12-16 (as always, held at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel, and the Sheraton New York Times Square), with pre-conference events kicking off on January 11. The theme this year is “trans.ACT”, conceived to focus on the links of the transformative power of the arts (as inspired by the multiplicity and fluidity of the word “trans” and all its iterations—transformation, transcendence, transdisciplinary, transition, and the importance of transgender artists in our field and our communities) and the word “ACT”— as in action, activism, activate, actualize. In addition to the customary rich schedule of (1,000 plus) showcase performances, and the EXPO Hall, which enables industry professionals the opportunity to network in a relaxed atmosphere, the conference offers plenary sessions and professional development forums for attendees to explore and discuss critical issues relating to artistry, aesthetics, equity, support and logistics for the arts in general and how these can best be managed by those in the field.

The APAP conference is timed to coincide with a host of arts events scheduled in New York in January – officially assembled under the JanArtsNYC banner – as throughout the month there are 11 major performing arts industry forums, public festivals and conferences taking place, as well as over 1,500 concurrent world-class showcase performances by dancers, musicians, and all range of theatrical artists going on throughout the city; not only is there always a full slate of great artists to be seen at the Hilton itself, but venues all over New York are brimming with a more than usually eclectic roster of performers and events. Several partner events were initially incubated by APAP, and these include globalFEST (inaugurated in 2004; taking place on January 14; information available at globalfest.org), and the Under The Radar Festival (begun 2005; happening January 4-15; undertheradarfestival.com); beginning in 2013 Wavelengths: APAP World Music Pre-Conference (January 11-12) has been a part of the APAP menu. Other programming includes Chamber Music America (CMA), from January 4-7 [chamber-music.org]; PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now, Jan. 7-20 [prototypefestival.org]; the ISPA Congress, January 9-11 [ispa.org]; The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform, Jan. 9-14 [joyce.org]; American Realness, January 9-16 [americanrealness.com]; Performance Space 122’s Coil Festival, January 10-February 4 [ps122.org]; and NYC Winter Jazzfest, January 10-17 [winterjazzfest.com].

Highlights of APAP 2018 will include the opening plenary, wherein Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of The Public Theatre – well known as the launching pad for innumerable groundbreaking theatrical productions and gifted performers – will join a panel of speakers on Friday, January 12. The closing plenary will feature “the Jon Stewart of Egypt” – former heart surgeon turned political satirist and comedian Bassem Youssef – who will share his unique perspective on Monday, January 15; earlier this year his book “Revolution for Dumies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring” was released, and his story is the subject of a documentary entitled “Tickling Giants.” Other featured speakers and artists include choreographer Kyle Abraham, Ahmed “Knowmadic” Ali, jazz pianist, composer and educator Jason Moran, and hula vocalist Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, among many others.

More information about programming can be found at: APAPNYC.org, @APAP365, #APAPNYC and facebook.com/APAPNYC. APAP membership information can be found at APAP365.org.

JanArtsNYC, information can be found at JanArtsNYC.org.