APAP in the light of inclusion

APAP Nueva York artes escénicas
Photo: APAP

By Cristina Vázquez

Versión en español

The APAP | NYC + conference that dictates the agenda of the performing arts industry, mainly in the United States but also worldwide, and that took place from January 8 to 12, when held virtually, for the first time in 64 years, with reduced rates and even some 300 subsidized tickets, was available to people who, due to cost reasons, could not attend in past editions. I witnessed it with colleagues and close friends.

In my opinion, this panorama highlighted the need to rethink the conference model for it to be available to a larger audience. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP), which I have been for a year, I have been working for the inclusion of a greater number of Latinxs in this area of specialization.

Of the 2,200 attendees, according to figures reported by the Organizing Committee, some 136 people who identified themselves as Latinxs or Hispanics participated in this conference, in which year after year, with New York City as its headquarters, contact is encouraged between artists, programmers, presenters, agents, managers, producers and directors of venues and cultural festivals.

My experience was positive when working with my colleagues in the so-called Affinity Groups both from the BIPOC community, as Blacks, Native Americans and people of color are called, as well as Latinxs and international programmers, but these groups require a direction with clear objectives to go beyond the talk. We need to define strategies.

I believe that the APAP | NYC + programming was very successful in addressing two major issues: health, in the face of the crisis caused by COVID-19, and racial equity, which, in the words of Lisa Richards Toney, president and CEO of the association, “it is not an option, but a way of life”.

Two men were the main speakers at the conference: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert from the USA, and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. I think that to really put into practice the policy of racial equity, diversity and inclusion, known as REDI, under which APAP is guided, it required the participation of a woman.

In his presentation, Fauci stressed that theaters could reopen their doors in the fall of 2021, if by then 75 to 85 percent of the US population is vaccinated.

Yo-Yo Ma, 18-time winner of the Grammy Award and Messenger of Peace of the United Nations, closed the conference by recalling the role of the arts during the pandemic and quoting Mr. Fred Rogers: “‘Whenever there’s a crisis, you can always look for the helpers.’”

For those unfamiliar with the conference, APAP | NYC + also unveils the artistic proposals of the moment through showcases, fragments of shows often preceded by an introduction by the creators, and has the largest performing arts market of the world.

All the programming that the conference covered was available to see digitally through a platform, from my functional point of view, such as Swapcard, but sometimes the offer of activities was so abundant that it was difficult to stay online for so long.

The truth is that virtual events are here to stay and it is likely that next year the APAP conference will have a hybrid format between face-to-face and digital, because as I said at the beginning, virtuality, by reducing costs, facilitates arrival to larger audiences.

Hence the importance of me teaming up with Chicano Eddie Cota, the other Latinx member of the  

APAP Board of Directors, to achieve the inclusion and strengthening of our community within the performing arts professionals and achieve better opportunities for all.

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