Since 2015, The Shalleck Collaborative has been sponsoring the keynote and featured speakers at the Performing Arts Manager’s Conference (PAMC), which is a gathering for just that: executives and managers of performing arts centers across the US and Canada, and, well, the people who love them (theatre planners, acoustical consultants and architects). With the sponsorship, I am given the mic for a few minutes to say a few words of my choosing and introduce the speaker. Following here is the Introduction to Mario Garcia Durham at the August 2017 PAMC in Nashville:
I am happy to be here again, as I deconstruct my 15 minutes of fame into annual 3 minute increments.
I have the pleasure of introducing our featured speaker, but first I’d like to express some gratitude, as an allied member and sponsor:
To Larry Henley and Shelly Kleppsattel, for their kindness, diligence and encouragement,
and to Joe Levy, and my homey from the Bay Area, Leslee Stewart, the energetic, wise and soft spoken Canadian, coming in for the next session in Toronto. Thanks for stepping up.
One quick PSA: the Canadian minister of culture asked that I relay that although Canada will welcome us with open arms, when you are making your travel arrangements please be sure to book a round trip ticket. A claim that your artistic life is at risk will not itself qualify you for refugee status. Oh Canada.
So, as a matter of introduction to our speaker I need to talk about Bjork. A few months ago I went to Bjork Digital, the travelling anthology of digital performance art pieces, primarily presented in virtual reality.
It was presented by the LA Phil at the Reef in downtown LA, a non-descript arts and entrepreneurial incubator building, which as a gathering place did offend all my sensibilities. The pipe and drape cubicles had stools holding tethered headsets for pairs or groups to stand “together” and have individual experiences. It was glitchy and the transitions jarring and awkward.
Then, with my venue strapped to my face, when Bjork and I were standing on a black sandy Icelandic beach and I could look around as she sung ME a song, three thoughts came to mind:
One: as one who makes a living designing physical places for the arts, for a moment I felt as the French aristocracy might have as they must have wondered why those hipsters with pitchforks were gathering in the streets.
Two: there is another entertainment industry that is going to do very well with this medium… I mean sports of course.
Three: although the technology and the art form are in their infancy, this intimate experience I was tricked into thinking I was having was nonetheless impactful, and we are at as meaningful a time as when Muybridge spun that slotted scope in the 1880’s to make it appear a horse was galloping, and all that would ensue in the moving image.
BUT, as classical forms did not die that day, these are additive layers of new art forms we will all enjoy figuring out how to engage.
Our speaker today is Mario Garcia Durham. Looking through his bio or perhaps knowing him yourself, we see an incredible career in making the arts happen, and making sure their importance and impact are understood and are represented in our government having served with the NEA. As President & CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals he has a direct line of observation into the concerns and trends of arts professionals, so I am pleased and quite thrilled to present Mario Garcia Durham.