By Carol Cooper
High school kids usually have to wait for free summer concert series in city parks like Summerstage and Celebrate Brooklyn to see the wide range of international talent that perform all year round in New York nightclubs, dancehalls and small jazz bars. But do you ever wonder how a Kenyan rock band, a Chinese opera company, or a trip-hop singer from Tunisia ever gets booked for such festivals in the first place? Chances are the manager and booking agent for these performers sealed the deal for a debut tour during a five day annual conference sponsored by America’s national Association of Arts Presenters [www.apapnyc.org]. Even though MCSM specializes in preparing students for STEM careers, not every student here is seeking a career in science, math or engineering. The discipline and skills taught at MCSM can easily be applied to any serious vocation, including a career in Media and the Entertainment Arts.
College kids who join on-campus Student Event Committees often get their first experience of working in the entertainment world from negotiating contracts to bring musicians, dance companies and theater troupes to perform in their schools. In the current constricted economy, major universities like Columbia, Yale, and Dartmouth offer degrees in Arts Administration and/or legal degrees for future lawyers who intend to help change and improve all aspects of the entertainment industy. In fact, the non-profit organization now known as APAP started over 50 years ago as an initiative by college and community arts presenters and their governmental allies, to diversify the ways music, dance and theater were presented to the American public. From then to now, APAP has reached out to public schools, colleges, community centers, diverse funding agencies, and government adminstrators asking them to partner with performing artists and venues to bring the soul-enriching gift of live performance to more people in more places.
In recent years the rise of social media and digital distribution has greatly improved the access of musicians from all over the world to potential fans like you and me. Students who attend or volunteer at APAP ( and especially those who attend the two-day “world music pre-conference” organized by the PR firm Rock, Paper Scissors) learn how live streaming, Cloud Baby, Twitter, YouTube, Kickstarter, Spotify, Vimeo, and Tumbler are changing the business of live entertainment. Moreover, technological innovations to make the lights, sound, stage sets and energy used by performing artists more environmentally sustainable are discussed amid the dozens of workshop panels APAP hosts. This quest for sustainable tech is where a school like MCSM could join the conversation and profitably participate in future annual APAP gatherings.
The theme for this year’s five day conference at the New York Hilton from January 9-13 was: “TOGETHER: Gather, Learn, Connect, Celebrate”. As APAP’s president Mario Garcia Durham stated, this year marked APAP’s 58th annual gathering, proving that there is no substitute for the face-to-face connections and learning that happens when arts professionals of all kinds get together. Even Joe Giardina of our New York City Department of Education came to moderate a panel on “Engaging Students through the Arts.” Concert highlights from the conference which may appear soon at a summer festival near you include the following: Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthia, whose clubby trip-hop anthems made critics call her “the voice of the Arab spring;” Troker, a high energy Mexican jazz-rock combo; Kahulanui , a Hawaiian swing band complete with dancing hula girls; and Syrian-American classical composer Malek Jandali, who compares his work to the orchestral jazz suites of Duke Ellington, and will debut his new symphony at Carnegie Hall on January 31st.
[For more info on APAP go to www.apap360.org or check out the Twitter hashtag #APAPNYC]