For at least the last two decades or so that I can remember, The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (that’s APAP) transforms the New York Hilton Midtown on 6th Avenue between 53rd and 54th (1335 6th Ave), into a multi-room venue packed with performers of all stripes from all over the world. And it presents this amazing thing every January. The organization brings performing arts professionals together to explore and present the best and newest in dance, music, theater — all disciplines and genres — at APAP’s annual membership conference and pre-conference.
Happening January 12th through the 16th, 2018, there were more than 1000 world-class artist showcases held around the city; an EXPO Hall with nearly 400 booths and dozens of professional development sessions. Keynotes included well known and cutting edge artists and arts leaders. And there were pre-conference forums, many of them free and open to the public. This year’s conference theme, trans.ACT, focused all on the transformative power of the arts.
And, if you knew about it in advance, you could have attended these performances that take place from morning until late night. Anyone can — it’s a little secret about New York I will let you in on. The talent abounds. Here’s a little rundown on just some of the folks I saw in play — and a bunch of pix to entreat and tantalize. It was there that the Estonian Voices did an amazing jazz tinged a capella performance which surprised me through their charm and expressiveness. They not only expressed themselves in sound but in body — a discovery I hope won’t go unapprecaited in the States any longer.
Among the dozens of performers, some of the best there were from Ireland — Lúnasa, Socks In The Frying Pan and The Prodigals among others who had performed. I not only reveled in them all but it proved that such musicians play not for ego but for the sheer joy of it all.
Some great classic acts such as the Persuasions with their rich vocals acrobatics ad proved to not only alive but doing well in keeping alive the pure expression in soul jubilation. There were also lots of tribute bands including an ear busting faux Jimi Hendrix who did soaring rendition of such classics as “The Wind Cries Mary” and “Purple Haze.”
[But there were many more — detailed in the photo accompaniment.]
In addition — upon qualifying for a pass — one can view the three floors of exhibitions deep in the hotel floors two, three and fours. Agents of all stripes touted their clients while a few touted themselves fully in costume and wondered the halls sometimes with chocolates in hand.
In its 61st year, nearly 3,500 arts professionals from nearly 30 countries and 49 U.S. states attended the conference which united interests that support the strength and vibrancy of the industry. Based in Washington, D.C., this organization hails a robust, performing arts presenting field and the professionals who work within it. APAP’s 1,600 national and international members represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performance facilities, nonprofit performing arts centers, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, as well as artist agencies, managers, touring companies, and national consulting practices that serve the field, and a growing roster of self-presenting artists.
APAP|NYC is also a founder of JanArtsNYC, the most comprehensive annual celebration of the performing arts around the globe and annual convergence of 11 major performing arts industry forums and public festivals. Some of the 11 events will run beyond the timeframe of APAP|NYC again this year, through February 4th. 2018 event dates and descriptions of all 11 partnering events available at JanArtsNYC.org.
And when it closed its annual gathering with remarks by Egyptian comedian and social commentator Bassem Youssef who addressed the industry's responsibility to stay relevant and carry out the duties of artists to be activists, As he said “….to make art that is annoying, destructive and unconventional, and to celebrate art, humor and the love of performance, know that if you are making certain people angry, furious, and uncomfortable, then know you are probably doing something right.”
APAP|NYC returns to New York on January 4-8, 2019.