Imaginative business tops the bill in New York

From creative entrepreneurs to artistic care-givers, Maria Roberts reflects on some of the stories to come out of this year’s New York congresses

I was in New York last week meeting with arts professionals from all over the world at the APAP and ISPA congresses. I got the sense at APAP this year that it was a more relaxed affair; delegates gradually milled through the Hilton and took conversations at their own pace, rather than rushing to display tables.

At APAP I sat in on the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater discussion on Caring for the Caregiver, a scheme where medical students and healthcare professionals benefit from arts practice. Pimsler’s concept reconnects medical students with the human stories behind the patients, and in the midst of exams and placements, makes use of dance to further students’ understanding of why they have chosen such a challenging career path.

Pimsler says the scheme’s success is due to a long planning period, during which he and his team asked prospective participants what they wanted, rather than assuming what might be good for them.

At ISPA, we heard how Sydney Opera House reached out to its audience to fund an expensive renovation; the resulting Own Our House campaign asks viewers to imagine how the city would look without the iconic building. Those moved to help maintain the building can purchase roof tiles from as little as AUD100 (€64) via a virtual 3D model of the world heritage-listed landmark, and personalise the tile with a photograph and message.

Likewise, Live Theatre, a new writing theatre company in the UK, shared its story of survival post-arts council cuts. Jim Beirne took an entrepreneurial approach to building his company; among other initiatives, he launched the cleverly named beer, Writer’s Block, and a Michelin-starred restaurant – both of which contribute to the production of new work.

Imaginative business models topped the agenda in New York. And it seems the general public is more than happy to stake a claim on how and where work is created, rather simply just provide the ticket-stub money and show up.

Did you attend APAP or ISPA this month? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.