A woman with brown bobbed hair wears a black and green jacket with yellow flowers
Senior Program Director, New England Presenting & Touring, Center Stage

“The Idea Swap is one of the few places where the whole presenting community comes together each year and that builds the relationships that form the ecosystem of the performing arts in the region.” – 2017 Idea Swap Participant

On November 2, 2017, NEFA hosted the 16th annual Idea Swap and for the very first time it was sold out!  The Idea Swap was filled with sharing and networking for New England's presenting and touring community. Over 160 people registered and nearly half of the participants attended for the first time. Thank you to all the artists and presenters that took time out of their busy schedules to join their colleagues in Worcester. 

The elements of the day that participants rated most highly were information about the Expeditions grant program, project presentations, the venue, opportunities to network with others, and the cost. Things we’ll work on for next year include the lunch table discussions and the New to NEFA reception.

It was a fast-paced event with numerous opportunities for sharing projects that may eventually tour the New England region. One participant called it “pleasantly overwhelming.” There were also a record number of projects submitted and shared this year.

Patchtax presents Shebang at the Idea Swap, by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

Nineteen touring project ideas were presented for five-minutes each. We especially thank the artists of Night Tree, Patchtax, and A Far Cry who lifted the energy of the room with live performances. During the mini swaps participants moved into smaller groups to share 71 more projects in short pop up presentations.

Aaron Larget-Caplan shares during the Idea Swap's Music Mini Swap session, by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

One participant enjoyed the two different types of presentations, “The main stage presentations gave me a chance to see a variety of work/artists. The smaller genre-based presentations allowed me to see work and meet presenters and artists within my area of interest. I was very pleased with both.”

Ninety-one percent of survey respondents said they learned about at least one project that fit their needs, with almost 50% saying that three to six projects met their needs.

You can check out all of the project ideas submitted on the event page of our website. You can also review the projects presented during the mini swaps. If you still have a bad case of FOMO, Sarah Duclos, Neoteric Dance Collaborative shared a fun tweeted recap of Idea Swap!

As tours begin to develop we encourage you stay in touch with colleagues to plan your application to the Expeditions program. The deadline for Expeditions Touring and Tour Planning is February 20, 2018 and the application form will be available in early January. We’ve set up an online form so that all participants can post or see updates on potential tours.

Contact details for all Idea Swap participants is available in the participant list. And don't forget to list and update your organization or artist ensemble in CreativeGround. Search the directory to find presenting organizations, artists, and nonprofit partners.

Other opportunities to connect:

  • NEFA staff will be attending the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference in New York City in January. Stop by booth #132 Rhinelander to meet and talk with staff or contact Daniela Jacobson Plotkin to make an appointment.
  • Also during APAP, all New England presenting organizations are invited to attend a meeting on Saturday, January 13 at 8:00-9:00AM at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. This meeting will focus on tours being formed for the upcoming Expeditions deadline. APAP registration is not required to attend.
  • Are you an artist showcasing during APAP? Let us know so we can share details with New England presenters attending the conference.
  • New England presenters and cultural organizations are welcome to join Arts Presenters of Northern New England (APNNE) and New England Presenters (NEP) to network throughout the year. Membership meetings include topics such as block booking, current issues in the arts, contract negotiation, marketing strategies, and more. Contact NEP and APNNE if you are interested in joining:

Still have questions about the Expeditions program? The NEFA staff is available for in person or phone meetings. Please contact Daniela Jacobson Plotkin at djacobson@nefa.org or 617.951.0010 x528 to arrange a meeting time.

“The Idea Swap is such an important event that feels like it really kickstarts the planning for the next season, allows colleagues to catch up and learn about best practices, and it's a great way for presenters and artists to meet without a lot of pressure.” – 2017 Idea Swap participant