The Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) is an internationally focused showcase of contemporary Australian performing arts. It was established in 1994 by the Australian Council for the Arts and has been held as a biennial event since then, first in Canberra, then in Adelaide from 1998-2012 and Brisbane from 2014-2018.

In 2018, Creative Victoria, in collaboration with a consortium of Victorian performing arts events, won the tender to deliver a new model for APAM in Melbourne, from 2020-2024.

With the focus on connecting Australian performing arts with national and international presenters, the new-look APAM will see the biennial event, bolstered and complemented by a year-round program of activity and platform events.

A dedicated APAM office will be established to deliver the program and actively broker international partnerships and touring opportunities for Australian artists and companies. The office will work in collaboration with key national events and festivals and the Australian performing arts sector more broadly.

Read the Q&As below for more detail on our approach for APAM 2020-2024.

What is the new model for APAM?

In addition to having a biennial industry event, the new APAM will operate all year round to connect Australian performing arts organisations with national and international presenters.

A series of tailored programs will be designed around existing festivals and events each year, including networking opportunities, meetings, conference activity and pitch sessions.

To deliver this expanded program, a dedicated, staffed APAM office will be established in Melbourne to:

  • develop the annual program of platform events;
  • attract national and international programmers, producers and presenters and co-ordinate their attendance and activities;
  • broker relationships between artists and companies, and programmers, producers and presenters -  before, during and after key events; and
  • manage an online presence, including creating and maintaining a database of national and international programmers, producers and presenters, and Australian performing artists and companies.

What will it mean for Australian performing artists and companies?

For Australian performing artists and companies wanting to share, promote and sell their work, or forge new partnerships and networks, the new model will:

  • increase opportunities to present different performances at APAM events each year;
  • enable them to capitalise on their public performances;
  • provide targeted presentation opportunities to programmers, producers and presenters looking for a specific style/type of work;
  • provide year-round profile through the day-to-day work of the APAM office, and
  • help broker relationships and opportunities beyond festivals and events.

What will it mean for programmers/producers/presenters?

For national and international programmers, producers and presenters, the new model will:

  • provide a vibrant context in which to experience the work of Australian artists and companies;
  • cater to increasingly specialised interests e.g. youth arts, dance, First Nations work;
  • provide year-round access to Australian performing artists and companies through the day to day work of the APAM office;
  • offer a key point of contact (the APAM office) to assist in brokering relationships with Australian performing artists and companies.

Will there still be a major biennial event?

Yes. While this new model offers a comprehensive program of activity, events and services across each year, a major event will be scheduled every second year. This will deliver a critical mass of delegates and activity and opportunities for cross-artform gathering and networking that have been so valued in previous APAMs.

Will there still be a focus on diversity and First Nations performing arts?

Yes. We are committed to embedding First Nations programming and leadership in the new APAM model and will continue to support and promote First Nations artists, producers, presenters and organisations. This has been a growing and important aspect of APAM and we are looking to build on the strengths of the 2018 program. To this effect, the First Nations performing arts sector will play a key role in APAM’s design and delivery.

The strength of Australia’s performing arts lies in its diversity, and APAM will work to reflect and promote the multiplicity of voices, cultures and practices across the country.

Can events or festivals outside of Melbourne get involved?

Yes. While it has always been hosted in a particular city, APAM is a national initiative with a remit to broker opportunities for Australian performing artists and companies, regardless of which part of the country they are from. This will be the case with the new model too.

In its first year, the program will be built around a number of Melbourne based events, with the intention to include regional and interstate events as the new model develops. We’ll be looking for the best opportunities to showcase Australian performing arts and provide an attractive proposition for international delegates.

Why change?

The current model for APAM has been in place since 1994 and has served Australia’s performing arts industry well. However, the global performing arts sector has changed significantly. APAM was originally conceived at a time when producers and presenters travelled less readily and less often, and online access and technology was not as sophisticated or widely used as it is today.

The Australian performing arts sector has also grown significantly and matured. There is now a much greater volume and variety of work available, national and international engagement are no longer limited to conventional touring models, and there are an increased number of significant festivals and platform events across the country.

An independent evaluation of APAM in 2010recommended the model “move to a year-round, multi-year operation,” allowing for ongoing communications, the development of strategic relationships and greater rigour to match the right work with the right delegates. We feel it is the right time to implement that change.

The new model aims to do this while addressing significant issues raised by artists, companies, producers and presenters, including:

  • the high cost and time commitment required for participants;
  • the greater impact of presenting full works in front of a public audience;
  • the fixed biennial format and location restricts opportunities;
  • of the opportunity to create depth and focus with so many choices and such a broad range of work.

How was this model selected?

APAM is a national initiative, managed by the Australia Council for the Arts through a competitive national tender process.Victoria’s successful bid for APAM 2020-2024 responded to the Australia Council’s call for models that are “visionary and innovative in their approach, responsive to sector needs, and partnership-driven”.

Who developed this new approach?

Victoria’s successful bid was led by Creative Victoria with a consortium of key Victorian performing arts events: Melbourne Festival, Melbourne Fringe, Dance Massive, Yirramboi and AsiaTOPA, as well the national performing arts conference Australian Theatre Forum.

Who will run the APAM office?

The office will be operated independently with a team of 3-5 staff to deliver the program. They will work in close collaboration with the Australia Council’s International Projects team and International Development Managers, and with a range of events and festivals and the broader Australian performing arts sector. Creative Victoria will establish the office in partnership with the Australia Council. Specific requirements and details of the process will be available in due course.

When will the office open and start work?

We expect the office will be established in mid-2018, commencing with the appointment of a director. They will hit the ground running to refine the model and start planning and developing opportunities, including consulting across the sector and with international stakeholders. APAM programs will commence in 2020.

How can my event get involved/be showcased?

Once the APAM Office is established, the team will focus on building relationships with a range of Australian festivals, events and companies.

Will there be opportunities and benefits for artists and companies from outside of Victoria?

Of course! As with the previous model, APAM is dedicated to creating opportunities for Australia’s performing arts sector. It is a national initiative based in Melbourne.