As the leaves start to turn and the air carries a hint of autumn, the performing arts world gears up for one of its most exciting and crucial times of the year: conference season. This is when artists, agents, and presenters come together to showcase their talents, forge new partnerships, and shape seasons at performing arts centers, festivals, and concert series.
I just returned from the first of several large booking conferences (Western Arts Alliance) and I will be a workshop leader at another arts conference next month (Arts Northwest).
In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at conference season, how business is conducted between agents and presenters, and what artists can expect.
The Essence of Conference Season
Conference season typically spans several months, with events and gatherings taking place in various locations, both physical and virtual. These conferences are organized by industry associations, such as the Western Arts Alliance (WAA), Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) and the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), to name a few. They serve as a melting pot for professionals from all corners of the performing arts world, including artists, agents, presenters, producers, and more.
The Heart of Business: Agents and Presenters
At the core of conference season lies the intricate dance between agents and presenters. Agents, representing artists or performing companies, aim to secure bookings and partnerships with presenters, who are responsible for programming performances in venues, festivals, and theaters. These meetings are where the magic happens, where artistic visions meet practical logistics, and where future collaborations take shape.
Be mindful that presenters are booking for the upcoming season, not the current one, so there may be months or even year+ between when the conference takes place, the deal is made, and when the actual performance takes place (and you get paid).
What to Expect as an Artist
For artists, conference season is a whirlwind of opportunities and a chance to gain exposure on a broader scale. Here's what you can expect:
Conference season is an exciting and crucial period in the performing arts world. It's a time when artists, agents, and presenters come together to shape the future of performing arts entertainment.
As an artist, conference season offers a unique opportunity to showcase your talent, connect with industry professionals, and pave the way for future collaborations. Embrace this season with enthusiasm, be well-prepared, and remember that patience and persistence can go a long way in building a successful career in the performing arts.
Whether you're a seasoned performer or just starting out, conference season can be a game-changer for your career.
Want help navigating conference season? Need help figuring out if it’s a good investment for your music career? I can help with that. Send me a message and we’ll set up a time for a free consultation.
Cheri Jamison is an Arts Consultant with over 12 years of experience in the arts and nonprofit management. Cultivating a non-judgmental, solution-oriented environment, Cheri meets her clients wherever they’re at with their business or creative career. The focus of Cheri Jamison Consulting LLC is strengthening organizations from the inside out through capacity-building, executive coaching, board training, and professional development. CheriJamison.com