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Justin Macdonnell

Platform Paper 62

Justin Macdonnell

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Once, the idea of the arts participating in what are undeniably trade fairs, complete with product booths, giveaways and funny hats, would have been a breach of faith with their sponsors. Today, it is the norm. These events range from the huge and grotesque, such as APAP (American Performing Arts Presenters) to the less daunting, such as CINARS in Montreal or APAM in Australia. From the US the concept spread around the globe and while Europe has largely resisted the trend there are now arts markets throughout Asia, North and South America and the Pacific. But the question now is: has the arts market outlived its usefulness? Have the new digital platforms made touring redundant? Has the rapid, borderless exchange of artists, and the worldwide experience of co-productions, residencies and other collaboration, made them superfluous? Isn’t the world simply saturated with dance, physical theatre and new music, not to say festivals and circuits? Veteran marketeer Justin Macdonnell is uncompromising in his advice. APAM is seeking to reinvent itself from an intensive four-day conference every two years to an elongated ‘process’ in Melbourne. So, an awareness of the need is in the air. But change to what and where might it end? This paper questions the assumptions underlying the whole notion of a market: the role that government agencies have played in advocating, enabling and even owning such events; and reevaluates their achievements and shortcomings. It suggests other possibilities, including those now under trial in Australia.

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About the Author

Justin Macdonnell has been a worker in the arts for over forty years—as a writer, director of opera and musical theatre, and manager of touring and marketing. As principal of Macdonnell Promotions (1986–2003) he became one of Australia’s leading arts management consultants.