Make a big difference to The Big Idea.  Help us tell the most creative stories.

Home  /  Stories  / 

The Arts Market: promoting New Zealand’s performing arts

29 Sep 2017
Showcasing New Zealand work to festival directors from around the world, The Arts Market is an opportunity not to be missed for performers keen to tour.

In a recent interview I did with The Modern Maori Quartet, band member Maaka Pohatu shared that the Arts Market, run by the Performing Arts Network of NZ (PANNZ), was the platform that got them discovered and selected for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Following this thread, I thought it timely to explore what the Arts Market is all about, who it’s for, and how to get involved.

The Arts Market was established in 1998, and is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. Its mission is to promote the touring of new New Zealand work, by showcasing 50 new performance pieces ranging from theatre to dance to comedy, circus and music. It is a three day event, attended by festival directors from New Zealand, as well as representatives from festivals throughout Europe, Asia, United States and Australia.

The next Arts Market will be held in Wellington at MACs Convention Centre, Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8 March, 2018. Tickets will be on sale next month here.

What are they looking for?

  • Tour-ready works – as in ready to go on tour next week if required
  • Evidence of quality – in the form of reviews or endorsements for the show itself, performers, or previous work
  • Variety – as in a range of performances from different disciplines
  • New Zealand work – written or created by a New Zealander, or overseas work re-worked to a New Zealand context (e.g. Te Rehia Theatre’s rework of Shakespeare’s Othello)
  • Work featuring New Zealand artists, with a New Zealand flavor or relevance

How do I sign up?

Initial registrations are through of The Arts Market, this is also a great site to register with if you are interested in touring in Australia)

You will need to include the following information:

  • Show synopsis
  • Touring budget (detail of what it costs to put on your show each day)
  • Marketing materials, including images and any video
  • Evidence of a premiere either held or booked
  • Endorsement from someone in the industry who has either seen the show or has a good knowledge of
  • Technical rider

Applications will be reviewed, and 50 are selected to pitch at the Arts Market. Successful applicants are then invited to attend an online workshop to provide guidance and support around polishing their pitch.

Registrations have now closed. What can I do now?

While registrations for the next Arts Market have now closed, producer Celia Walmsley says there is plenty you can still do now. “Being in this business, pitching and getting work out there is a long game." Even if you’re not pitching, Celia says that being at the Arts Market is a great opportunity to see what the trends are, find out what people are looking for, build relationships with people in the industry, and start conversations early about ‘what might be.’

Attending the Arts Market as a delegate is ideal for newcomers to the industry, who want to get their work on tour, but don’t know where to begin. Celia described the very personal flavor of the Arts Market and shared that every effort is made to ensure newcomers are well looked after and introduced to people in their field of interest.

From an artist’s perspective

Sacha Copland of Java Dance Company is a seasoned professional when it comes to pitching at the Arts Market, having attended every year except two since 2004. Celia Walmsley describes her as "the hardest working choreographer in New Zealand,” and this month alone she is touring five shows in seven different festivals around the the country.

Sacha reiterated Celia’s description of the “long game.” While she has sold around 10 shows in the Arts Market over the years, Sacha says that it wasn’t until her fourth year pitching that she finally broke through and sold a show. She describes this as pretty normal, and emphasised Celia’s point about taking the time to build relationships with festival presenters. “They like to get to know you and understand where you’re coming from and what your work is about. It’s unlikely that the first time you meet someone they’re going to buy your show.”

Sacha explained that the pitch is focused on talking about your show rather than actually performing it. She described the whole process as a platform for the artist to better understand their show and how it relates to the world. “You have to think about it from the perspective of the producers buying the show as well as the audiences in the different regions. It teaches you how to be brave in a different context. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen the first time.”

The Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ), Touring Selector, Java Dance Company