Serving thousands of member organizations and individuals since 1957, APAP works to strengthen the field and advance careers through professional development, grant support, advocacy, networking and the annual APAP|NYC conference.
Our story begins in the 1950s when college and university concert managers directed their interests toward the educational role of the arts and the unique issues related to professional performing arts on campus. In 1957, a group of these presenters formed the Association of College and University Concert Managers (ACUCM). The University of Wisconsin in Madison initially housed the staff. Fan Taylor, presenter at the Wisconsin Union Theater, served as executive secretary without compensation for much of her 24-year tenure.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the presenting field and membership expanded to a variety of organizations, prompting the association to change its name to the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA) in 1973. By the mid-1980s, colleges and universities no longer dominated the membership, and the association’s spectrum expanded. The organization’s name was changed to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in 1988.
Membership in the association was 29 in 1957; by 1966 it had increased to 275. Today, APAP has 1,600 organizational and individual members and serves more than 5,000 performing arts professionals every year. Members include: presenting organizations; regional, state and local arts agencies; service organizations; producing companies; artist management; booking agencies; and individual artists among other performing arts professionals.
On January 9, 2017, the APAP membership officially voted to change the name of the Association from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters to the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, embracing the diversity of the performing arts field and reflecting APAP’s core value of inclusiveness.
Fan Taylor, founder of APAP, led the organization for 24 years. Bill Dawson succeeded Taylor in 1971 and served until 1986, when Susie Farr became the third executive director until her departure in 1999. During her tenure the national office relocated to Washington, D.C. Sandra Gibson served as president and CEO from 2000 until 2011. In October 2011, the board of directors appointed Mario Garcia Durham as president and CEO, the fifth leader of APAP. In June 2020, the board of directors appointed Lisa Richards Toney as president and CEO, the sixth leader of APAP.