How to Know You’re Showcase Ready
What is a showcase, and how are they run?
Participating in a showcase is an opportunity to share your latest work available for touring/booking by presenting organizations. One of the larger, more well-known opportunities in the performing arts industry is the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP). While the majority of artists are eager to showcase at conferences, a number of components should be considered in order to know if you are showcase ready. Additionally, it is helpful to take stock of your goals and expectations before investing in a showcase to ensure a positive experience.
Criteria for creating a showcase:
- Consider which works are showcase-ready. You have identified 1-3 work(s) in your repertoire that are tour-ready and, if you’re not able to show them in full, you’ve determined the best way to showcase excerpts to provide a sense for the themes, feel, and look of the full work. Works-in-progress are fine to show, but what you present must be well-rehearsed/clean and paired with information about timeline and further plans.
- Understand your 2-3 year plan. You understand that presenters are likely at APAP to look for work to book 1-2 years or more out (does not mean some aren’t trying to fill their calendars sooner). This requires a good sense of your 2-3 year plan.
- Know the time involved in creating a showcase. You have the capacity to personally commit to (or delegate out) a total of 20-30 hours toward:
- Narrowing down and researching the 1200+ APAP attendees in order to target presenters who are a good fit (i.e., have historically presented work and companies like yours).
- Networking in the form of organically catching up via email or phone and showing up in-person (if available) to APAP events and places where presenters hang out after hours during APAP weekend. The idea is to start up conversations to get to know their organization, without immediately going into a sales pitch.
- Following up with presenters who attended your showcase as well as those who RSVP’d and did not show. Sending mass e-blasts is not enough – you will need to send individualized emails to each presenter who is a strong qualifier that shows you know something about them and are personally inviting them to get involved. If you’re not familiar with many presenters and/or have not participated in APAP for 2+ years, you’ll have to really spend time doing your research.
- Get a sense for showcase costs. You’ll need to budget $800-$1500 for the bare minimum cost of an in-person showcase slot (usually 15-30 minutes) produced by one of the more mainstream APAP producers. The cost and amount of time allotted will depend on whose showcase you decide to participate in (ASP, Jody Kaplan, Peridance, Ailey Citigroup Theater, independently produced, etc), so research will need to be done to see which venue is best for you.
As well as production costs for a showcase:
On top of this criteria, be prepared for the cost of:
- Rehearsal space for showcases – You’ll want a very clean showcase that exemplifies expertise, whether you’re showcasing in a stripped down environment or fully technically equipped venue. Keep in mind that most showcase techs are only 20-30 minutes long, so your cast will need to be very familiar with the material and flexible with any changes that need to be made in a short amount of tech time.
- Showcase dancer pay for rehearsals, tech, and performance.
- Costuming for showcases – Even if you’re presenting a work-in-progress, there should be uniformity and intention behind what your performers are wearing.
- APAP showcase listings – In 2019 the cost was $75 to have your showcase listed in the APAP showcase booklet and on the APAP website. (In 2020 the cost was $20 for online listings as all showcases were virtual only.)
- APAP membership – Usually not necessary to get if you’re participating in a showcase produced by someone else, but it could be worth becoming a member and getting a badge to explore the expo hall and have access to the panels and events that the conference offers (those are great places to meet people and engage in meaningful dialogue!). First-time APAP artists can receive a membership discount through the Artist Access program.
- Showcase survival. Spending money for personal meals as you’re out-and-about during the long weekend (always recommended to pack snacks and water to stay hydrated and healthy).
- Showcase transportation – If you’re flying any dancers/collaborators in from out of town, or if your showcase involves large sets or props where a car service is needed.
- Lost pay for showcase time – The amount of income you may lose to take time off of work to be present in-person during the long weekend of APAP.
Benefits to a successful showcase
Although APAP is primarily seen as a way to connect with other folks in the hopes of landing a performance, it can also lead to residency opportunities and collaborations with other artists. Be flexible with your expectations and open to different kinds of connections – That’s what makes it fun!
For many artists, it takes a few years of conference participation and showcasing before opportunities solidify. Perhaps you take a more low-budget approach to your first and second year of showcasing, and then amp things up once you understand exactly how to go about APAP. By that time, your name will be more familiar to the presenters who come each year and you’ll have a good sense for how best to utilize your time and money. Use this time to get to know people and build relationships through good conversation. Be ready to maintain the connections you make at the conference throughout the year so that you’re on presenters’ minds year-round.
As an alternative to in-person showcasing, Virtual Showcasing is also a popular option and can be more cost-effective. To find out more about Virtual Showcasing check out our blog on YouTube Premiere for Virtual Performance Streaming.
Additionally, you can bring your showcasing questions for our Director of Booking, Sandy Garcia, who will be our guest agent for Live Chat on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021 from 2-4PM ET
Pentacle remains dedicated to continuing to provide a high level of support to artists during these extraordinary circumstances. Alongside many other key and respected organizations in the field, we have begun accumulating and curating resources for artists and organizations experiencing income loss and other troubles as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Find our list of resources here.
NEXTSTEPS | 09.28.2021
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