APAP 2015:  Making Entertainment Better, More Multi-Cultural, and More Socially Responsible


emel mathlouthi 2

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.

Troker onstage

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]

Malek Jandali 2 

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