Guest Blog Post – Cece Otto, Junior in the Actor Training Program of the U Theatre Department and UtahPresents Intern

Cece attended the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference with UtahPresents’ Executive Director, Brooke Horejsi, for a crash course on arts administration, building a performing arts season and working with artist agents.


Attending the Association for the Performing Arts Professionals Conference (APAP) this January was incredible. Not only did I get a taste of what the professional world of performing artists, presenters, and agents looks like, but I also learned many valuable skills I can put into practice in my life as a student at the University of Utah.

One of the best surprises of the conference was the comradery between all parties present at the conference. It seemed like everyone was working as one big team, and wanted everyone to succeed at what they were doing. This really impressed me, and left me with the feeling of encouragement.

The information I gained by attending APAP is both something I can stow away for future use, and a valuable resource that I can draw upon right now. Currently, I am an artist preparing to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer, as well as the intern at UtahPresents, and the tour manager for Grassroots Shakespeare Company. Viewing the conference through the eyes of a presenter, an agent, and an artist has given me insights into how I can more efficiently work on my current activities/jobs.

Manual Cinema’s Lula Del Ray

My favorite showcase was Manual Cinema’s Lula del Ray. I was so excited to see that Manual Cinema would be showcasing at APAP because I had previously learned about the group in my Theatre History course with Martine Kei Green-Rogers. Their work is so unique- using overhead projectors, shadow puppetry and live music to create seamless narratives that are incredibly captivating. It’s like watching a movie being put together right in front of your eyes without an editing process. I have always enjoyed watching their work online, but having the opportunity to be in the theatre while they perform was an experience I’ll never forget.

My favorite speaker from the conference was Allison Orr from Forklift Danceworks. I had the pleasure of hearing her present in a panel based around collaborative work processes. Her main focus was The Trash Project which is basically a garbage truck ballet which she created in collaboration with the sanitation workers of Austin, TX. She stood out to me because it took her 5 years to create this project, and during that time she would go on the morning routes with the sanitation workers, learning how to do their jobs, and building a line of communication. Ultimately, the final project was a compilation of moves these people do every day as a part of their job, but she was able to help them find an artistry within their work.

I left the APAP conference with a greater respect for artists, agents, and presenters, as well as an excitement to return to my own work. This community was so welcoming and helpful. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of a new year by attending this conference with performing arts professionals from across the world.