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Sandra Locklear: Blog

Winter 2012: New York, Arts Presenters & Performers Conference

Posted on February 11, 2012

(c) 2012 Sandra Locklear All rights reserved 

Hello Dear Ones

Spring is around the corner - I'm writing to share my recent experience in New York , and to thank my sponsors again for helping to make the trip possible (click News for Sponsor List).  

In a nutshell, as the APAP folks put it, a clear message was delivered throughout the conference:  The responsibility for the arts belongs to the leaders in the field.  “We Are They: Owning the Road Ahead” was a reminder to music educators, artists, presenters, and the agents and managers who connect them that the quality of culture is our responsibility. 

This message deeply resonated with me as a performer-educator , especially at a time when I’m at a career crossroads.  

Non-stop, there was so much to see and do, from informative sessions to artist showcases and the Expo Hall (where the real business of music takes place) that’s I’ll be processing it all and connecting with new faces for some time to come. 

And of course, I’m listening deeply to discern what Spirit wants from me.  So, sip your tea and read on! 

No snow whatsoever in New York city -  that happened after our week-long snow storm here in Seattle! Thankfully, it was only a breeze getting around.

I attended JazzConnect sessions, including the JazzTimes DIY Crash Course thread (“Do-It-Yourself”),  where the focus was on cutting edge models for how artists are inventing a place for themselves where none existed before, i.e.,  marketing / selling music online, podcasting, social media publicity, touring & performance in non-traditional venues, building cultural community through jazz.   Looks like I’ll be hiring a Virtual Assistant soon!

At the Youth & Family Programming session, artists, presenters and educators all came together.  I decided to break-out with the educator group as I wanted to hear what they had to say before bringing my concern to the table: 

In my experience, I have noticed a lack of knowledge or awareness on the part of professional performing artists I have met (and their managing agencies) about federal and state arts education standards and mandates. This would be important to be able to justify funding and to ensure that presentations are geared toward the developmental level of student or community audiences.

On the flip side of the coin, I've also noticed it's not uncommon for classroom arts educators to be disconnected from the real-world of professional performing arts, as most have little time for this given the strenuous nature of the teaching profession ... which ultimately impacts what and how their students learn and the quality of their concerts.   

Surprisingly, my concern ended up being a hot topic of discussion for the entire room and it was suggested that an entire panel be devoted to this issue next year!  More on this to come, I’m thinking a lot about it and may end up doing some consulting in this realm.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center session was also education oriented and I discovered the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz in the Schools online curriculum – stunning effort.  Again, this was another inspiring panel-led discussion that made me feel proud to be involved in music education, something I have lamented at times because the fight to keep the arts alive in the schools is so demanding. 

Along with this, attended the Doris Duke funded Jazz Audience Initiative session, which looked at demographics, who attends concerts and ways to cultivate audiences.  Valuable to hear from a performer’s perspective.

 At the Doris Duke Foundation session I learned about the arts awards and residency process.

Attended a 2 hr. Petcha Kucha session, which is similar to the Ted Talk format –  useful for presenting different projects within a specified time frame. Several cutting-edge artists and entrepreneurs were given about 6 minutes and 20 slides to present the heart and soul of what it is they do, how it positively impacts their community or reflects society.   One woman conducts a brass band in S. Africa to motivate youth.  A mayor of a small town uses music and art to lift the community out of economic slump and depression.  It ended with a panel circle in the center of the room and an invitation for audience members to join the circle and ask a question of the panel.  Witness the modern tribal council format!

As a Canadian citizen, I also checked out the Canadian Alley session – what’s happening musically in Canada and where.  There’s a strong national touring circuit and not surprising, Quebec has the most arts funding support. C'est la vie!

Carol Coletta, an urban planner, spoke passionately to the relationship between the vibrancy of cities and their arts and culture scene, and why investing in the arts is plain good economic sense.  Very inspired talk.

 Heard Dr. John Kani, the S. African playwright and actor, speak to his life experience growing up in apartheid and how the arts erased the division between “us and them” in his mind.  I was honored that he would use a comment I made in the microphone prior to his speech to punctuate a point he made in his closing remarks.  (I asked if the speeches would be made available to everyone online for equal access, to promote understanding of the importance of the arts.)  It was an honor to be validated in such a manner.

Then there were the many Showcases which were going on round the clock on three floors of the Hilton and other venues in New York, including the Yamaha studios – beautiful!  Music and touring shows galore of every genre and type including international artists.  I saw Buffy Saint-Marie’s - she’s going strong in black leather now singing rocking material with a younger band (go Buffy!).   Perhaps next year I’ll have a showcase if everything goes right, because …

I met new agents that I’m getting to know who also book blocks of time in the APAP showcases, in order for presenters/ venues to hear artists they may want to program into their yearly calendar (always a year in advance.)  These venues can include subscription series for performing arts centers, theatres, arts organizations, gala or special events, unique projects, casino, festivals and fairs, etc.  There’s also regional arts conferences that do the same and at some point I’ll focus upon the Western and Pacific NW conferences/showcases.

Also went to Carnegie Hall one evening for a classical concert and the NEA JAZZ Masters Concert at Lincoln Center.  Didn’t sightsee too much as Lady Liberty is under construction but rode the tube out anyway to catch a glimpse of her.  Central Park – oops, it was paved, much to my Seattle-induced disappointment!  Sampled the local delis and stayed on top of things despite 3-4 hours of sleep a night, organizing my contacts and information on a nightly basis. 

  Feel free to check into my website anytime.