Q & A with Karen Fischer, President of the Pasifika Artists Network, representing performers with roots in the unique cultures and aesthetics of Hawai‘i, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and other areas of the Pacific region.
During her years of booking artists, Karen often remarked that, with the rich tapestry of performing artists in Hawai’i and the Pacific, the time was right for developing greater touring opportunities for them. Sharing the unique and authentic arts of this region with more audiences is a win-win, gaining wider exposure for the artists and cultural specialists while enlivening audiences with the depth and richness of Pacific cultures and their contemporary arts. And so Pasifika Artists Network was born.
1. How do you describe your agency roster to a presenter meeting you for the first time?
2. Who is the most recent artist you added to your roster that would be useful for a world music presenter?
3. What are the biggest trends affecting your business right now? How are they affecting you?
4. What is the most extreme thing you ever did for an artist?
5. What trade organizations or conference are most important to your business?
6. Describe a collaboration with a presenter that you are proud of.
People need the arts in their lives and always have, whether it's music, stories, dance, theater, film, etc. So the same thing that saves the performing arts in our lives will save world music. We live both locally and globally, often in very diverse communities. What is called "world music" is simply music that comes from people drawing on their cultural traditions, whether those traditions are from across the globe or in the next neighborhood. And with all the access to cultural exchange whether personal or virtual, "world music" and traditions are continually changing, developing, melding, mixing, the way the arts always have across migrations, trade routes, and cultural mashups. As long as the music is genuine, with an authentic core, it will strike an emotional chord with all kinds of people, sometimes in unexpected and surprising ways. Which is why we will always need, want, and value artistic expression, whatever its source.
9. What is your favorite piece of advice for artists who want to be on your roster?
The first thing to look at is if you are ready for an agent. If you are not known locally, it will be very difficult for an agent to create national or international touring. (I am speaking as an agent, and not as a manager, whose role it can be to create reputations through publicity). Also, as an artist, do you have your own artistic voice? What makes you stand out as a performer, that is different from what others offer? I would suggest performing as much as possible, in as many places as possible, in venues of all sizes; get known, know how to work with an audience, develop a reputation and a following. Release CDs and submit for awards.
10. If you were an artist without an agent, what would you do?
Primarily, having your own artistic voice is key -- work on your art. Everything flows from that. Be brutally honest about where your work fits in the performing arts ecosystem -- what makes you stand out. You don't need an agent to create local touring opportunities. Use your network of colleagues and friends to get gigs. Again, perform as much as possible. Local recognition for your work can help prepare you for having an agent. At that point, look at who might be the right agency for you. Who do they rep, where are their artists performing, etc.
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