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
APAP Takes Over Manhattan
By Wendy Fernandez, TPA Student Employee
New York City is known as the “city that never sleeps,” and during the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference, neither did I. I flew in early so that I could see the city before the conference began, and the first challenge of the trip was finding Manhattan; I had overshot it and ended up very lost, cold, and hungry in Queens. The second challenge was understanding the subway system, and the third was surviving the unforgiving 8 °F.
Once I adjusted, I experienced as much of New York City as I possibly could before the conference began. I visited all the tourist locations—Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Met—and was blessed to be able to watch a few Broadway shows with my friends and co-workers, my favorites being Anastasia and Aladdin.
The APAP conference was a lot larger than I had anticipated; not only did it encompass the entire hotel, but the city as well. At any given moment there was so much to do that I was always moving. As a student volunteer, I started my day with a behind-the-scenes view of the APAP organization. After graduation, I am interested in working in some aspect of arts management, so it was very interesting to see the structure of APAP during the conference. In addition to that, I had the opportunity to work with various student volunteers from all over the country. Each had a unique area of interest in the arts, and it was fascinating to hear their stories and career ambitions. As someone who is very unsure of which direction to take after graduation, I felt motivated by the other volunteers to begin creating attainable professional goals for myself.
After a volunteer shift, I would spend the day attending different panels and discussions that covered topics ranging from attaining work visas for foreign performers, to the struggles of LGBT representation. My favorite panel tackled the subject of building an audience in different areas of performances. The discussion branched from reaching low-income individuals and minorities to mixing tradition with modernization.
At the end of the day, I wandered the city with coworkers to track down dinner, and we quickly discovered that the sketchier an establishment looked, the more “authentically New York” the food was. After dinner every night, I went to various showcases. I can’t decide if my favorite one was the Russian quartet, the Animaniacs voice actors, or the Red Hot Chili Pipers’ bagpipe rock concert at midnight. Suffice it to say, the acts were as diverse as the performers themselves, and there was never a dull moment.
Something really special that we were able to do was tour the New York City Center and the Lincoln Center thanks to Texas Performing Arts alumni. We sat down with the alumni to ask questions about their profession and for any advice they had to offer. Towards the end of the trip the alumni, my coworkers, and I met for dinner and it was amazing to see the New York network TPA had helped build, and to be a part of it for a little while.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend APAP through TPA. The experience was second to none and the connections and professional development I gained out of it have already helped me grow professionally. My only regret was not bringing an extra pair of pants to fend off the cold, but thanks to TPA, I was able to partake in this amazing educational experience.