At Texas Performing Arts, we take our role as educators and mentors very seriously. Through the day-to-day activities of our student employment program, we are able to professionally involve students in every aspect of our organization—but we know that the professional arts world is much larger and wider. To help our students break into that wider world, we have an ongoing program to take a select group of students to New York each year to attend the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) conference and connect with our growing network of TPA alumni. At our core, as managers of student employees, we’re educators, and having the opportunity to show, connect, and inspire our students to be the next generation of arts leaders is one of the most important things we can do. –Tim Rogers, Student Engagement Coordinator
By Pamela Laredo, TPA Student Employee
APAP 2018 was an experience that was better than I could have imagined. It might have been that everything seemed great after getting lost in Queens when it was only 8°F, but more likely it was the variety of art that I got to witness.
Being a volunteer at APAP gave me the opportunity to socialize with other students from all of the United States and even some international ones. My first day there was a bit scary because most of the students I spoke to were there to audition and I was not.
Things started to pick up when I started to go to panels. The first one I went to talked about the pros and cons of filming live performances and releasing them as movies or videos. Listening to their points in favor and against recording performances opened my mind to the experiences of each different role that is involved. I’ve had similar conversations with friends, but we just focused on the pros of getting to see musicals that we would otherwise not get to see since we don’t live in New York. The panelists discussed musicals as well as how dance and music performances would be affected by being experienced through a recording instead of live.
My favorite panel was titled "Resist: Music and Movement Building." The biggest takeaway was their emphasis that now isn’t the time to close the doors and protest silently, now is the time to bust open the doors and use art to reach a larger audience. I enjoyed learning about a local coffee shop that joined the resistance with themed art exhibits that focused on the importance of intersectionality. I left that panel feeling inspired and excited about all the ways art and social justice will continue to overlap and create conversations that will change the world.
The conversation we had with Kim and Benji from the New York City Center was insightful about the types of jobs that happen behind the scenes other than the typical backstage jobs you hear about. They talked about ways theater was expanding into the community, trying to reach groups that typically might not get to experience live performances in a theater. That was particularly interesting to me because I am looking to work with children with a lower socioeconomic status and seeing programs that have worked in New York can serve as examples to bring to Austin.
After our long days of volunteering and going to panels we got to witness some incredible performances. There was a Russian Quartet that absolutely blew my mind, they were so intense and into their music I could have watched them play forever. I also went to an Urban Ballet showcase that used dance to comment on issues of social justice that I really connected with. The showcase that stuck with me the most was the Red Hot Chili Pipers. I’ve never been a huge fan of bagpipes, but 30 seconds into their performance I fell in love. Their performance was at midnight but the amount of energy they brought to the stage fueled me for the next 4 hours.
In addition to getting to be part of APAP this year it was amazing to see the TPA network of alumni in New York. I got to talk to the person that did my job a few years ago and it was fun to compare how the role has changed since he was here. Though I’m not planning on moving to New York after graduation, it’s exciting to see how much TPA has been able to provide for students while studying and even once they have graduated. As my graduation creeps closer, I’m looking forward to be able to use all of the professional and life experience I’ve gained from TPA.