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Live Arts Producers Form Alliance To Collaborate On COVID-19 Crisis Management and Long-Term Programs

On October 7 at 2pm EST, the 2020 Western Arts Alliance Conference will host a panel discussion.

More than 50 independent producers of live arts-representatives of a critical, oft-overlooked cross-section of the field­-have joined forces as the Creative & Independent Producer Alliance (CIPA) to address the urgent need for rebuilding and sustainability, advance cultural representation and resist historically oppressive institutional structures, and create systems of support necessary to ensure a future for artist-driven contemporary performance in a post-pandemic world. Sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), CIPA aims to accomplish this mission by creating visibility and community within the broader field (including at this year's Western Arts Alliance Conference, October 6-9), identifying and dispersing resources for producers, and providing tools and advocacy for building new work and sustainable practices across genres of theater, dance, performance art, and music.

 

The producers comprising CIPA's membership have played a significant role in the development of scores of performance projects over the past decade-including Taylor Mac's A 24-Decade History of Popular Music; Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter's upcoming Iphigenia; Mikhail Baryshnikov & Big Dance Theater's Man In A Case; Andrea Thome, José Zayas, and Sinuhé Padilla's Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes); and Du Yun's Angel's Bone, to name a few-and have provided services that are central to supporting artists. In many cases, they have acted as the entire infrastructure for emerging and established artists and companies, providing everything from accounting and general management services to essential creative partnerships in the development and realization of new work. CIPA members have been responsible for investing in and cultivating the work of artists who would not otherwise find support from more traditional institutions. They ensure artists' work reaches opening night, especially when all other sources have run dry, and often honor artist fee payments when other organizations do not and advance their own funds when fee payments from funders and presenters are delayed, withdrawn, or inadequate. A list of members and artists supported can be found on CIPA's website, cipausa.org.

However, while they are relied upon heavily by artists and arts-presenting institutions alike, independent producers have long operated at the fringe, remaining mostly invisible to audiences and funders. Their situation in the face of COVID-19 is stark. Current relief efforts supported by public and private funding sources are, by and large, leaving this group behind, and an initial 25 independent producers surveyed by CIPA organizers in [insert month] had already reported revenue losses of $7.1 million.

But beyond this most immediate crisis, there is a pressing need to identify and support a diverse range of independent producers across the country, which will in turn lead to an increase in resources and reliable infrastructure for a wide range of artists. Within CIPA are committees dedicated to key priorities, including an Organizing Committee that is leading a facilitated strategic planning process and working toward developing systems and infrastructure to support the stability and growth of creative producers; an Equity Committee establishing policies and protocols to ensure equity and inclusion both within and beyond CIPA and beyond; a Research Committee that is conducting studies to bring to light past and present working models for live arts and the independent performing arts sector; a Membership Committee that is organizing and facilitating monthly meetings for producers to discuss important issues, learn from one another, and share important updates as CIPA develops; a Programs Committee that is working through strategic partners to develop opportunities and programs, such as low-cost or free legal consultation, for producers at all career stages; and a Communications Committee that aims to ensure the work of creative and independent producers is visible to the field at large.

 

CIPA is piloting several key initiatives, including mentorship programs; an online Producer Hub dedicated to the professional development and support of independent producers through shared business and educational resources and networking opportunities; a CIPA Producing Fellowship, an application-based opportunity for emerging and diverse producers to work alongside more established producers and companies; a New Work Development Network connecting producers and artists with major presenters across the country; and a program through which CIPA members provide free consultations to producers at varying career stages.

 

On October 7 at 2pm EST, the 2020 Western Arts Alliance Conference will host a panel discussion entitled "Introducing CIPA / Prioritizing New Work Development for a New Era," featuring CIPA members Linda Brumbach (Pomegranate Arts), Iyvon Edebiri (The Parsnip Ship), Rika Iino (Sozo Media), Mara Isaacs (Octopus Theatricals), Tommy Kriegsmann (ArKtype), Beatrice Thomas (Authentic Arts & Media), and Miranda Wright (Los Angeles Performance Practice). They will lead an open discussion around evolving and equitable approaches to funding, creating and touring new work, and to ensuring a strong, generative arts ecosystem.



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