NAPAMA is really a family of dedicated arts professionals who recognize that all benefit from seeking and sharing knowledge, mentoring each other, striving for ethical business practices, promoting diversity and inclusive practice, and returning tangible benefits to our members. 

The organization was created to support the work of agents and managers and has evolved to provide invaluable services not only to its membership, but also the field at large. As we continue to grow and adapt to the changing landscape of the performing arts field, we also look back to remember and acknowledge how we've gotten to where we are.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who, with their vision, dedication and energy, have helped NAPAMA become a leader in the performing arts field.
— Robert Baird, 2009

The memoirs until 2009 were originally compiled and prepared by by Kerby Lovallo, Director, New World Classics and Robert Baird, President, BAM! Baird Artists Management, for the annual general meeting and 30th anniversary of NAPAMA held on May 1, 2009 in New York City,

 

+ 1979-1981 | Judith Liegner, Liegner Management

For years, at every ACUCAA meeting, I tried to get people interested in organizing, and after a while when they saw me coming, people turned their backs and became very busy. People were always complaining about the conferences, the exhibit hall times, the booths. I believe in changing things. The response was terrible.

I called a breakfast meeting at the Mayflower, and present were Herbert Barrett, R. Wilford, H. Shaw, Sara Tournay, and attorney Mitchell Pines. I remember that Barrett said, "Why do we need to do this? There are only a few important managers." Ronald Wilford thought it was a great idea, and would be interested in joining if it could help with collecting commissions from artists.

In 1982 we had a seminar on computers. I brought my IBM and showed people, and they wondered if a computer would really be helpful. We also had a seminar for managers. (I found in a file folder the first NAPAMA newsletter.) When we got this off the ground, Kazuko Hillyer, Betsy Crittendon, Richard, Sara & Judith would all do mailings to presenters, and we had meetings comparing their lists and collaborating on a joint list.

It is great to see one’s baby attain the age of 30 and it is worth celebrating. I was the founder of NAPAMA in a difficult professional environment: Managers did not talk much to each other and did not want to share ANY information. I had preliminary meetings regarding NAPAMA, incorporated, paid for and named it, and served as its President for a number of years.

+ 1981-1984 | Sheldon Soffer, Sheldon Soffer Management

We brought together most of the managements as a unit, which gave NAPAMA a voice to be heard by presenters. Our mission at that stage was to try to get as many managers to become members, and if I remember correctly we also started adding the arts administrators as members. Our other major mission was to become recognized in the industry as an important organization that would bring the industry together. We also started to have meetings of our members at the regional meetings as well as the national and international meetings.

England and other countries organized on the Continent a similar organization to the one we founded. I was an original member when it was organized. The mission of the group was:

  1. To recruit as many managers as possible;
  2. To make the group known for its attempt to bring the industry together in cooperation on many matters;
  3. To have our purpose recognized by the arts administrators so that problems can be readily solved;
  4. To organize regional and national meetings to include all managers throughout the U.S.A.;
  5. To cooperate with foreign managers to solve many problems.

+ 1984-1985 | Cynthia Herbst, American International Artists, Inc.

On December 1, 2008, American International Artists celebrated its 30th Anniversary in the business. The time has gone by quickly, and yet I remember fondly my days with NAPAMA, first as a manager member and then as its President. I feel blessed to work in an industry that nourishes the soul as well as helping others to realize their dreams. In what other industry can one "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined" (Thoreau)

Whilst I cannot be with you on May 1st, I wish each and every one of you continued good success with your work and pray that it is for you an offering rather than a burden, and for those you serve, may it be the help they need.

Congratulations to All with warmest best regards, CB

+ 1986-1987 | Joanne Rile, Joanne Rile Artists Management

The idea of an organization that would represent, educate and support managers, agents and artists was something new when Judith Liegner and a group of managers began talking about this in 1977. Up until then, it appeared that artists’ managers and agents were just competitive. Judith and her colleagues planted the seeds of a vision of what we could become. In 1979 our organization was founded.

What I most admire about NAPAMA is that it continues to work toward goals to benefit its members and the field. I also admire those past presidents and board members who wove an organization to work with presenters and to serve artists and managements in a new way.

I joined the board while Cynthia Herbst was president. She brought a focus and intelligence to the organization. In 1986-87, I accepted the presidency and did so because of the outstanding members of the board. Board member John Smith worked passionately to improve our input and relationship with all of the conferences. I have memo after memo and active follow-up on his part. Jeannette Gardner was on his staff when John passed away. We all know how she has succeeded in taking over the office and developing it to what it is today, as well as her impressive tenure as President of our organization.

What I tried to accomplish as President (as well as a VP and board member) included developing the national and international reputation of NAPAMA; expanding services to our members; and continuing professional development. With the board’s cooperation, we assigned a portfolio to every board member. Some of these were: membership, publicity, finance (including fundraising), education, member services and even a telephone tree to keep board members informed. We had liaisons for every conference and all organizations. We enlarged the numbers and roles of liaisons. During the summer, we held our first-ever NAPAMA board retreat to explore long and short-term goals and to set a plan of action for both goals. We produced a professional-looking newsletter and had our first logo designed to brand NAPAMA. We contacted and worked on some difficult problems with the Justice Department; we sponsored and developed our first professional development sessions at APAP, which enlarged our membership and our treasury. We added services: discounts for ads in Musical America and Dance Magazine; discounts on television monitor rentals and video machines at conferences; travel and other discounts and other services.

We continued making membership meetings interesting with speakers from recording companies, IRS (again) and Immigration, etc. Our board became more national as we reached across states to bring in members to serve. Jon Aaron dealt with immigration (with John Gingrich), Monty Byers was a stalwart Treasurer, Arthur Shaman was a Liaison for Midwest and NACA; Sheldon took care of WAA; Ivan Sygoda brought ideas galore especially regarding management behavior. We finally completed and printed the NAPAMA Code of Ethics. We invited members from presenting organizations to become members as well as other nonprofit organizations. We pushed for a NAPAMA Award for Excellence to honor Managers and/or Artists for their contributions to our industry. This award was to demonstrate our respect and admiration for our artist manager colleagues. It did not happen until our 20th anniversary but it did happen.

There were so many people helping - more than I can mention - who worked to bring NAPAMA into the forefront of the performing arts field.

Congratulations to those in the beginning and all that followed and all that continue to believe that we are truly colleagues in this exciting competitive business.

P.S. There were two goals we did not accomplish that I feel would be valuable to the future of artists’ management:

  1. A Handbook on Artists Management with a syllabus for a course to be offered to schools and colleges as a seminar for juniors or seniors in college to be taught by NAPAMA members. NAPAMA could offer certificates for completion of the course.
  2. A conference designed and offered by NAPAMA to presenters after the style of IAMA.

+ 1987-1988 | Ivan Sygoda, Pentacle

I’ve been assigned the pleasant task of recounting, or at least ruminating upon, the history of NAPAMA on the occasion of our organization’s 20th anniversary. By virtue of having been present at the creation, I am assumed to be the repository of information worth sharing about the who, what, where, when and why of the enterprise. Alas, I am the dimmest of historians. My memory is a sieve. My sense of time is warped. I remember causes as effects and vice versa. I forget names. Nor can I look them up, since I discarded many relevant files in the great office cleaning binge of 1994. Perdu à jamais? Yes, at least until I happen upon some magic Madeleine that will make it all whoosh back up from the dank repository of such things. Or until John Gingrich remembers for me.

Nevertheless, images from the past do well up, and they are mostly images of the Resource Room. And NAPAMA meetings at booking conferences about the Resource Room. When one reflects on it a bit, this makes perfect sense. To use an energetic expression, the Resource Room is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our idea of the business encounters the reality of the business. It’s the mirror in which our intentions are reflected back as our actions. If you’re in one kind of mood, think Allegory of the Cave. If you’re in another kind of mood, think No Exit. No wonder they call it the Pit!

An early memory, from at least twenty years ago: The Pit feels humongous, and I feel very small. I hardly know anybody. We dance managers cling to one another like dateless teenagers at a high school dance. The "big" presenters only talk to the "big" managers. The rest of us talk to ourselves. They seem so distinguished and experienced, these important managers and agents. They’re smooth, suave and sophisticated. Their artists are actually famous. They sponsor hospitality events that must cost as much as my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. But at a meeting they are complaining vociferously. They can’t read names on badges. They can’t distinguish managers from presenters. The hall is so poorly lit one can’t even see the displays. There’s no traffic, no respect. It costs too much. It isn’t worth it. There has to be a better way.

In some perverse way, this was a comfort. I had thought it was just me and my own inexperience and ineptness, and so I tagged along eagerly as my (then) elders and (still) betters pooled their energies and established the National Association of Performing Arts Managers and Agents. We spent many hours the first few years promulgating lists: of things the convention planners did wrong, of ways to do it right. To hear some people talk, you’d think there was a plot against managers.

Scan forward twenty years. Some things haven’t changed. Sometimes I still can’t read the name badges, but now it’s because I left my bifocals in my other jacket. They still won’t take phone calls, but at least I’ve learned not to take it personally. And my mother still can’t explain to her girlfriends in Florida exactly what it is I do for a living.

But many things have changed, and for the better. Thanks to the collective efforts of NAPAMA and the individual energies of its members...

We have made our voice not only audible but indispensable in the national and regional forums that govern important parts of the arts marketplace. We have been accepted as full voting members of the organizations that matter to us, and NAPAMA members have been elected to their governing boards. NAPAMA liaisons help plan every meeting. Conversely, presenters participate on NAPAMA’s board.

We promulgated guidelines for ethical behavior that embrace most of our business relationships and that most of the field seems to have embraced in turn.

Our advocacy efforts have helped pierce the carapace of such bureaucracies as the INS. Our collective ability to marshal facts and wield clout has helped ensure a freer flow of artists across borders.

Acting in concert, we have been able to reduce the costs of doing business for our members and increase our efficiency.

In Joanne Rile’s apt formulation, we have truly become "the collegial voice in a competitive business."

Most important, perhaps, in achieving these things, we have empowered ourselves to bring the full depth and breadth of our arts knowledge, passion and experience to the table. A generation ago (yes, it’s been a generation), we could fulminate about getting no respect. Now, as we enter a new century and millennium, we’re proud to march arm in arm with all our colleagues: presenters, funders and service providers, in common service to the performing and creative artists we all cherish.

From 2009:

It was a time of transition in the field. In retrospect, the changes were more wrenching than it felt at the moment because we were focused on details and symptoms. For the metaphorically inclined, we were tripping over tree roots and didn’t always see the forest changing around us.

We spent a great deal of time and energy sparring with conference organizers about what more of us now see as minutiae - name badge parameters, booth lighting and décor, schedules, lists and access. Of course, a lot depended on who was doing the seeing, and how vocal they were. "Aye," to quote the bard, "there’s the rub."

Here’s my take on the forest, grossly simplified: In the beginning, before even my time and before the primacy of the non-profit model fostered by the NEA, the field was defined by rather powerful and very knowledgeable and experienced classical music agents who controlled access to world-famous artists that important presenters needed in order to attract audiences hungry for "culture" and willing/able to pay for it. That world has changed since then, not overnight but faster than the speed at which coastlines change. The titans (and I use the word admiringly) were slowly being disempowered by evolutions in demographics, taste and cultural delivery systems, and they did what most good people do in similar circumstances: They felt threatened and disrespected and worried they were less relevant than before. One of the reasons NAPAMA was established in the first place was to claim collectively the respect only some of us felt we were accorded individually. I remember clearly one of our early clarion calls: "Why won’t they use us as the resource we are?" (Plus ça change, eh?)

I won’t name names (I can’t remember some of them, anyway), but there was testiness and, here and there, unseemly bits of desperation. (I do remember that fellow whose wife was a pianist!) The marketplace felt chaotic. The rules seemed unclear. This is more or less when we began to think about a code of ethics for ourselves. We managed to take the high road and it proved the wisest strategy. I take no special credit; these kinds of sea changes can only happen if we all work together. If I had a bit of a leg up, it was because Pentacle was non-profit and our dance artists were not (ahem) the most lucrative offerings in the Pit, I mean Resource Room. (It would be illuminating to examine the euphemisms we have adopted over the years to designate that piece of real estate.) I was a nice guy and unthreatening, so far as I know. If Arts Presenters was going to put a Manager on its Board, which it finally did, I was perhaps the least contentious choice. We were all proud of all of us, as I recall, and we all rose to the occasion together.

+ 1988-1990 | John Gingrich, John Gingrich Management, Inc.

During my term I’m proudest of the inclusion of our first presenter member on the NAPAMA board (Victor Gotesman); the agreement by APAP to receive part of our annual conference registration fee in the summer rather than all of it, as recognition of our general cash flow problems; our efforts to avoid discussing name tags or booth placement at our meetings together and our efforts to be recognized by, and eventually to work with, other service organizations on matters of immigration, a task in which almost 20 years later I find myself still trapped.

+ 1990-1991 | Ingrid Kidd Goldfarb, Classical Actiona West

I really can’t remember exact years. I believe I went on the board in 1989 and became President a year later. It was a pivotal organizational time for NAPAMA. We hired a consultant and went through some long-range planning. It would be interesting to revisit that plan - wish I could put my hand on a copy. We had representation on the Arts Presenters Conference Committee and for the first time we had a Professional Development component at the conference. Our first pre-conference workshop was on Time Management. We sold it out and were delighted that both managers and presenters attended. It also proved to be a good income source. At the end of my time on the board we hired a part-time Executive Director.

What I remember most about my time with NAPAMA was the wonderful friendships that were formed. It was truly a time when "competitors became colleagues." We had our board meetings at Sheldon Soffer’s "party apartment" and often Stanley would bring lunch accompanied by Annie the dog.

I’m impressed and proud of what NAPAMA continues to do and wish you all the best.

+ 1991-1992 | Don Osborne, California Artist Management

It’s hard to realize that at the time I was president of NAPAMA, it was barely more than ten years old. It seemed to have come such a long way. And yet, looking back, it’s wonderful to see how it has grown from those days. NAPAMA had no paid staff then. Working with a dedicated, hard-working volunteer board, the time commitment was enormous, particularly since we were struggling to deal with some important issues, going beyond conferences, which had been, and perhaps remain, the focal point of NAPAMA’s work. And name tags, the source of so many debates. Was it possible to move beyond that?

Health care had been a long-term concern, and it took so many years before NAPAMA could address it effectively. Self-represented artists and single-artist managers had started their own separate organization, feeling that NAPAMA wasn’t able to address their issues. A pressing concern at the time was licensing requirements for artist managers in various states, significantly in California and New York. Only a few states required talent agent licenses at the time. Florida had recently enacted a law that put artist managers in the same category as modeling agencies. California had just changed its talent agency law making it more difficult and costly to become licensed there. And the situation in New York was not at all clear. The law appeared to require licensing, but this had never been enforced for talent agencies. It was one of NAPAMA’s first ventures into legislative advocacy, a good learning experience, and a chance for NAPAMA to become a presence in places where we were previously unknown.

We had a particularly strong relationship with Arts Presenters then, primarily through Suzie Farr’s personal support for our work. She came to our board meetings regularly held at Sheldon Soffer’s grand 81st Street apartment overlooking the American Museum of Natural History. We were concerned that this relationship was so dependent on our personal relationship with Suzie, that we wondered if we would be able find a way to institutionalize it for the future. Arts Presenters had only recently added its first manager to its board of directors, and we were still a long way from managers becoming voting members of the organization.

We may still talk about name tags, but in 30 years NAPAMA has made enormous strides and has so much to be proud of.

+ 1992-1993 | Anne Marie Martins, International Music Network

I totally enjoyed working with all the wonderful artists and managers. NAPAMA is a great organization and I miss everyone a lot. Congratulations on the 30th Anniversary!

+ 1993-1995 | Barbara Scales, Latitude 45 Arts Promotion, Inc.

I am proudest of organizing and hosting the International Forum of Artist Managers’ Associations. Organizations from the UK (BACA), Canada (CAAM), Asia (FACP), Japan and other independents were present. We undertook to discuss issues of common goals and cooperation as well as issues dividing us: language, customs, funding practices, lexicon of arts business terms, etc. It was held at the UN in December, 1994, I think. The most important benefits of NAPAMA membership are the collegiality and good business which results from this. I decided to be a leader because I was persuaded to and because I had been inspired by others who preceded me.

+ 1995-1997 | Jon Aaron, Aaron Concert Management

Before my presidency, I served at least two terms on the board and those were very significant years indeed. Starting in the late '80's NAPAMA was really the organization that spearheaded the first major dealings with regulations regarding visas. At the time, the INS (for you youngsters, that was what the USCIS used to be called) initiated the first major change in regulations that affected our business. My company at the time was in Boston and as a result I was a constituent of Senator Kennedy whose committee was largely responsible for these regulations. NAPAMA raised the flag and the other larger organizations, APAP and ASOL, quickly saw the need to put their collective weight into the cause. It was at this point that Jonathan Ginsburg became very friendly with NAPAMA and he was instrumental in the writing of the 1990 legislation.

Another area where I was extremely active was in the creation of NAPAMA’s initial website. Without sounding too much like Al Gore, I would say that between my efforts and that of our former colleague, John Ulman, we were the first performing arts association to even have a website. Activity on the internet was still very much in its infancy, but many of you may recall those days in the early or mid '90's when we had a presentation by a man from Millennium Productions who came to talk about the coming technology. Our first site in fact was hosted by this company - originally in Cambridge but now, not surprisingly, in India. Millennium even registered our domain name and then helped to create the site as a prototype for many others to follow.

I know there is much more I could report, but I will leave that to others. For now I will just say HAT’S OFF to NAPAMA on its 30th! It is wonderful to see you thriving.

+ 1998-1999 | Jeannette Gardner, Gardner Arts Network

I was President in 1999. (Where did 10 years go??) Since 1999 was the 20th Anniversary of NAPAMA, we were able to bring a high level of recognition to NAPAMA at conference-wide events at WAA, MIDWEST, PAE and a successful 20th Anniversary sponsored luncheon at APAP (Jan. 2000) conference. This made many of our colleagues aware of the importance of the organization and helped elevate our reputation in the field.

During 1999, NAPAMA hired a full-time, more hands-on Executive Director, who attended conferences and other events on behalf of NAPAMA – a real challenge for a completely volunteer organization. This arrangement was ultimately discontinued for many reasons. However, it brought about other strategic procedures that proved to be advantageous for the future.

The most important aspect for me was the camaraderie and shared assistance to others in the field. NAPAMA also represents a high professional standard for which to strive.

+ 2000-2003 | Monica J. Felkel, Young Concert Artists, Inc.

My tenure on the Board was incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally. I had the opportunity to serve on the Board for four and a half years, including three years as President (2000-2003), where I had the unique opportunity to lead a wonderful constituency through challenging times.

As the Board began a period of transition, we restructured to operate again as an all-volunteer organization. We celebrated our 20th Anniversary, sponsored the Arts Presenters Conference Luncheon and bestowed the first Manager’s Award of Excellence to Joanne Rile.

In 2001, thanks to the tireless work of Treasurer John Tomlinson (Paul Taylor Dance Company) we became a registered 501(c)(3) and entered into and completed a strategic planning process to clarify our organizational goals, objectives and message.

The Education Committee of NAPAMA’s Board launched the NAPAMA Institute, a first-ever series of workshops in 2002 that was presented at the three regional conferences and culminated with a special wrap-up session at Arts Presenters. That year the sessions addressed the topic of relationship marketing in the arts and were the foundation of the now annual series of educational sessions that NAPAMA presents to the industry on the hot topics and concerns of the day. It was also during this time that the Board established the NAPAMA Award for Excellence in Presenting the Performing Arts. The Award for Excellence was created in cooperation with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters to recognize those presenters who forge exemplary partnerships with artists and their managers and agents. One of my last acts as President was to present the first award to Tom Weidemann of the Clemens Center in Elmira, NY.

On a personal note, many people reading this know that probably the most interesting detail of my involvement with NAPAMA is that it is how I first met Brian Taylor Goldstein of FTM Arts Law who is now my husband! I must say that as much as I gave to NAPAMA during my time on the Board, I got back tenfold in return. Happy Anniversary!!

+ 2003-2005 | Maria Guralnik, Van Cliburn Foundation

As a quick note to summarize my term (2003-2005), I think it is fair to say that NAPAMA began to focus on its educational programs and professional services as a benefit not only to members but the field at large. This included beginning a series of coordinated workshops presented at regional and national conferences in cooperation with our colleagues at the service organizations involved and engaging the ongoing assistance of Brian Goldstein and other outside experts to address a host of legal, ethical and other industry concerns. We also made Board selection/bylaws a priority with the awareness that dues best supported our advocacy and education programs. Finally, with the leadership of Board members Sue Buss and then Myles Weinstein, we created a professional website that continues to serve as a useful source for artists, managers, agents and presenters - whether members or not!

+ 2005-2007 | Marc Baylin, Baylin Artists Management

I remember fondly my two years as President. I followed two terrific Presidents (Maria Guralnik and Monica Felkel). I tried during my time, with the help of a great Board, to increase NAPAMA’s name recognition and clout in the field. We overhauled the website, really solidified the NAPAMA award as a nationally recognized award, and doubled our efforts in professional development at the conferences, an area in which I think NAPAMA continues to lead the way in a number of important topics.

+ 2007-2009 | Laura Colby, Elsie Management

I had the pleasure of serving as President of NAPAMA during the years of 2007 and 2008. Over this period, our membership increased by 30%. We acquired a significant number of these members via our Welcome to the Market PDI, which we offered for its third and fourth years at WAA and its first and second years at Arts Northwest. We also initiated a new first-time membership level for PennPAT artists.

With the advent of the IRS’s threatening letters to numerous universities presenting international artists, NAPAMA turned its attention to the complex issue of U.S. Federal taxation on touring international artists. In an effort to better understand the IRS’s requirements and to ensure compliance, we formed the International Artists Taxation Task Force in concert with our colleague service organizations. We also assembled, coordinated and presented the first-ever workshops on this complex issue with a faculty comprised of IRS staff, lawyers and managers. By special invitation NAPAMA made its debut at CINARS with this panel in November, 2008.

The only service organization in our field with a state-by-state taxation guide, NAPAMA maintains this vital resource live on its website. In 2008, the Board published information on the taxation of U.S. artists touring in the U.S. on its website. In the same year NAPAMA offered the first-ever workshop on the issue of retirement for our field, the content of which now lives on our website. In preparation for this workshop, we conducted our first online survey of our members. Other NAPAMA educational sessions that were offered during this period included sessions on Exclusivity and Arbitration & Mediation, led by our brilliant Legal Affairs Advisor, Brian Goldstein of FTM Arts Law, PC.

In 2007, the Board began research on how NAPAMA could offer competitively priced, readily available General Liability coverage in annual and spot-coverage form to its members and their associated artists. In 2008, we were thrilled to launch this program as Associate Members of Fractured Atlas, a national service organization founded by artists serving artists needs. Brian Goldstein submitted the white paper "A License to Manage" which now lives on our website.

In 2007 NAPAMA’s Showcase Task Force was formed with the goal of creating the first-ever industry guideline to showcasing. In 2008, this industry-wide task force drafted these guidelines for membership review. In June, 2008, NAPAMA joined its service organization colleagues and participated in the organization and presentation of the first-ever National Performing Arts Convention that was held in Denver, CO.

In 2007 NAPAMA participated in the "Up Our Alley" annual AIDS bowling fundraiser, returning with a team in 2008. In 2008 the NAPAMA Award for Excellence in Presenting the Performing Arts was given to Charles Rogers from Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and in 2009 to Aaron Egigian from the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California. This award remains the only award of its kind - with a contribution toward the venue’s endowment - in our field.

NAPAMA’s conference liaisons continued their crucial work of careful coordination with the conferences as issues such as "open access" hours, showcase logistics, booth hours, registration processes, database access, and load-in expenses were tackled.

All of this activity from the all-volunteer board comprised of your peers! What a ride!

2009-2011 | Eleanor Oldham, 2Luck Concepts

2011-2013 | Robert Baird, BAM! Baird Artists Management (resigned Oct. 1, 2013)

2013-2016 | Jerry Ross, Harmony Artists

2016-2018 | David Wannen, New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players

2018-present | Laurel Canan, Siegel Artist Management