APAM, Australian Performing Arts Market, is over…five days of heat, sun, beauty, river, dark boxes, big tents and the occasional champagne, held from 18th February to 22nd February 2014 at Brisbane Powerhouse, Judith Wright Centre, QPAC and QUT Gardens Point. It was excellent, such a huge task to organise our river city with diverse performance spaces. Big congratulations for the organising committee.
Here is a list of 10 things that I learned after attending APAM for the very first time. What you will read is only my opinion, and I am sure some of you will agree and not agree:
1. Pitching your work is a great way of selling: 15-20 minutes of intensive interest from a large and diverse audience. I preferred the pitches over every other available avenue (you also have the opportunity to present as a showcase of 25 minutes, a full length show or a mobile booth).
2. Artists should pitch their own work, not rely on their producers to do so. The pitches I witnessed with artists at the podium seemed, to me, to be more powerful. Of course there was a producer near by.
3. It is crucially important to spend money on documentation: what I witnessed was beautifully presented material, with good quality sound and visuals.
4. It is important to go to APAM just to understand its complexity, then you can return in two years to pitch (if your work is chosen).
5. If you do not get showcased for APAM, find a way to do your show anyway. Keep it short. There were several satellite shows at the market. The artists were delegates at APAM and advertised throughout the festival. There were also several satellite forums outside the program that worked a treat.
6. Genuinely connect with whomever you meet: I had some wonderful conversations with people I did not know, and then was delighted to see them up on stage a day or two later. One veteran suggested that the best way to be present at APAM is to have conversations with whoever is standing there and stop waiting for ‘important people’ to come along.
7. Slowing down when you feel like you need to speed up is an ideal approach: pacing yourself for 5 big days (really 4 full days), requires commitment, tenacity and a sense of humour.
8. Research everyone you can (everyone is in the Delegate book) so you know who you need to chat with. And have good up-to-date business cards.
9. Take snacks. There is little time to eat so make sure you have fruit, nuts, water to keep you going.
10. Enjoy yourself despite the gruelling schedule and the heat.
APAM was fabulous for me: I saw tens and tens of shows, either 15 minute pitches or full length performances. I could not see everything, there was too much, but I experienced so many emotions and ideas, I felt compelled to make this list and encourage artists to attend in the future, even though you may not have anything to pitch.
More artists should attend. Treat it as a Professional Development Week. We certainly need opportunities like this here in Brisbane. And we also need to agitate for a special rate for artists attending for PD. For most artists, $680.00 delegate fee is too high. I am wondering if APAM would consider what “Australia Theatre Forum” proposed last year, a subsidy for the independent artists who attended. Most people who attend APAM do not personally pay that fee, their companies do, but that is not so for freelance artists.
APAM, a great experience. A great experience for all artists, regardless of whether they have work to sell or not.
Thank you APAM. You really excelled to make a fascinating five days of research, inspiration and friendship.