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PANNZ Arts Market Explained - Why It's Worth Your While

22 Feb 2024

One of the creative community's cornerstone events is just around the corner - we break down what happens at the PANNZ Arts Market, who it's for and why to attend.

If you’ve been splashing around in sparkly performing arts pools for a while, you’ve probably heard of PANNZ or the Arts Market. But you may not be entirely sure when it is, or what it is, or…most importantly….is it for you? 

The Performing Arts Network of NZ is one of the most vocal and proactive organisations in the Aotearoa creative community - with the jewel in its crown being the annual Arts Market (4-6 March) - the only one of its kind in this country. It’s an industry-leading event designed for everyone out there who wants to get and participate in shows on stage in NZ and abroad. 

Do you make shows? Choreograph shows? Book shows for your venue? Are you an independent producer? Industry advisor? Or supplier? Or supporter? Whatever your role, the Arts Market is a fertile ground for building not just your mahi but your opportunity. 

Basically, if you’re in the professional performing arts or interested in being in it - the Arts Market could be what you need to level up your career. 

Now, we know that this kinda thing can present a whole lot of questions. The first potentially being 'this sounds cool...but am I good enough to go, though?' Because, let’s face it, if you haven’t been to an event and networking opportunity on this scale before, then jumping in can be a touch nerve-wracking. 

You're not the first to think or feel it - but it's no reason to let it hold you back. First-time experiences can be daunting but, as this first-hand account explains, it can be worth taking the plunge.

In short - If you’re a performer, a producer, a venue manager, an industry supplier, a director, a first-timer-trying-to-do-this-properly-er….then this should be on your radar.

So, to help you get there, here’s the 101 on the Arts Market. 

Who are PANNZ? 

Your arty best friend! PANNZ is the Performing Arts Network New Zealand. So basically if you’re in the professional performing arts, they’re for you. They do a lot of work actually, from running the national touring program for shows to the FAME awards to professional development. The Arts Market is their annual event, designed to bring together the NZ industry. But in short, they’re all about helping you shine. 

Who Goes to the Arts Market? 

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Pōwhiri to welcome attendees of the 2022 PANNZ Arts Market. Photo: Supplied.

Everyone/anyone who works in professional performing arts! 

The Market is attended by a large number of arts-makers (both new and more experienced) who create work for the stage. Performing Arts Festival directors, programmers and venue managers, independent producers, industry advisors, industry suppliers and industry supporters. 

And that’s just the people coming from across the motu. There will also be around 50 international attendees from performing arts venues and festivals looking to see what work is on offer from Aotearoa. 

So, what actually happens? 

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On-stage discussions at the 2023 PANNZ Arts Market. Photo: Supplied.

A whole lot of magic. 

Put simply – it is a multi-day conference, networking gathering, professional development opportunity and sales market all rolled into one. 

Each day is packed with different arts-makers sharing and presenting snippets of their shows from a huge variety of artforms: dance, theatre, music and sound, hybrid and experimental, circus and physical theatre, indigenous works, multidisciplinary and more. 

There are different sorts of pitches and presentation types: simple one- and five-minute presentations, tasters of work (like an open rehearsal or a reading or workshop) and some full-length performances of shows in the full-production state. These are all laid out well in advance, so there's no expectation to just rock up and start performing. 

There are panel discussions and break-out sessions featuring performing arts industry colleagues (both from NZ and ashore) as well as experts in the topics being covered. 

This year’s topics include being more environmentally sustainable in your practice, making shows for family and young people, being more accessible, and many more. 

Do I really need to network?

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Round table discussions at last year's PANNZ Arts Market. Photo: Supplied.

Yes, we know. It can be daunting if it’s the first time. Especially if you’re supposed to, gulp, network. 

Think of it this way. If you want to make cool shows and get them on stage - then you need to let everyone know that. 

All arts magic starts by getting in a room with other cool arts leaders: the Arts Market is that room. It’s full of the people who understand who you are, where you’re going, and what your vision is. So open the door, walk in, sit down, and say hi. Or just listen! 

Whanaungātanga (relationship building) within the  Arts Market is a vital element in how PANNZ aims to grow the performing arts industry & storytelling. 

What will I get out of it?

That's kinda up to you.

This could be the start of something beautiful…hopefully the beginning of long, incredible and mutually beneficial professional partnerships and collaborative and creative relationships for you. 

Not to mention inspiration and food for thought on your own body of work and where to take it next. Plus every person who registers to attend the Arts Market gets access to a full list of all the delegates going, so you can begin to grow your professional contacts. 

Ok, you sold me. What’s next? 

Alisha McLennan Marler. Photo: Supplied.

If it’s your first time, definitely sign up for the Arts Market New Navigators group (on the sign-up form) which helps connect you to some of the other attendees and creates a little support group for you before you even walk into the room - as well as having experienced Arts Market mentors to steer you in the right direction.

Alisha McLennan Marler is part of that cohort, and is getting prepared to make the most of the experience. 

"I feel like I’m a new-ish navigator - this will be my first time attending a full market. Last year I was involved in a virtual pitch. For this Arts Market, I have had a lovely experience working with the PANNZ team as a consultant for Accessibility, to make this Arts Market the most accessible yet. 

"I will also be presenting a breakout session about backstage accessibility. I am definitely getting stuck in for my first market. 

"I am looking forward to seeing a glimpse of a whole lot of different performances in one space, as well as listening to interesting panels. I feel like the market is going to be a great opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces, and meet a lot of new people." 

Written in Partnership with PANNZ Arts Market, running 4-6 March in Tamaki Makaurau (mostly in the CBD). Check out an overview of what each day at the Arts Market looks like here.