September 10, 2012 - An important dialogue on house concerts and other new forms of presenting is undertaken.
In response to a request made by presenting networks at the last National Network Meeting, CAPACOA and the Ontario Arts Council convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss “Changes in the Canadian Touring Landscape: A Discussion on the Health and Place of House Concerts and New Forms of Presenting in Canada”. The meeting was held in July, at the OAC in Toronto, and participants included two artists, a house concert presenter, an agent, a presenting network, as well as representatives from the Government of Manitoba, the Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The group explored three main questions:
- What is the impact of public funding on arts practice, arts consumption and the arts market place specifically with respect to house concerts?
- What do house concerts, etc. represent for artists from a career perspective? What are the reasons hosts get involved? Curatorial? Social? Creating access? Other?
- Are house concerts private or public experiences?
It was an exceptional opportunity to hear from different people who play vastly different roles in the industry. The input from the artists and artist manager was extremely meaningful. Many issues and ideas surfaced during the 4-hour meeting. At its conclusion, the group agreed on the following:
- House concerts have become a growing and important part of the "ecology" of performance opportunities for artists in a variety of genres.
- House concerts help established artists fill in down time in their touring schedules and help emerging artists make touring a viable option.
- House concerts offer a unique, community-based intimate performance experience that is quite different from those in more formal venues.
- Minimal or no overhead allows performers to receive most, if not all door receipts. This, combined with billeting, relatively robust product sales and opportunities to build a loyal fan base help make house concerts attractive to performers.
- There is a need to support a continued conversation on this topic, to explore ideas and issues with more presenters and other disciplines.
- House concert presenters and participants may not know their impact in the context of other presenters or tours, other than the success of their own evening of presentation.
- Communication and opportunities for productive dialogue within the presenting community are important.
- House concerts are a particular kind of opportunity better suited to some artists and artistic ambitions than others.
- Participants were in favour of actions that support artist interests, which includes continued funding support for the overall presenting field in Canada.
- The issue that house concerts usually do not provide guaranteed fees is challenging but important to look at (risk vs return).
- There are best practices that should/could be shared from many different kinds of presenters.
This was an extremely important first step in a critical dialogue. Next steps include small group conversations with presenters at various industry and regional conferences.
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