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Artists: tips for a great conference experience

If this is your first time coming to a performing arts networking conference (or to MPAC's Annual Showcase & Conference) or if you just want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, this article is for you!

Tips for artists and agents

If you’re showcasing, your 12 minutes in the spotlight might be the best thing since wireless mics but, on its own, it probably won’t get you maximum exposure to Montana presenters. Likewise, if you don’t have a showcase spot, you can still make excellent connections by engaging in these networking events.

Make sure you attend these events!

  • Turn-The-Tables (Friday)

  • EVERY Resource Room session (Saturday)

  • Artist Jam Session (Saturday night)

We know you’re busy and you probably have to rush off to the next gig or conference. With this in mind, MPAC always makes sure these three important networking opportunities are scheduled on Friday and Saturday—when you’ll probably have a tech/sound check or on the day of your showcase. (You’re welcome!)

Feel free to book your return flight early Sunday morning. If you can participate in conference events through the end of Saturday night, you’ll get the most out of this conference!

Turn The Tables

For an hour, artists and presenters literally switch places in the resource room! Presenter representatives are assigned a table where they can display season brochures and other information about their venues. Artists have the opportunity to move about the room and meet with presenter reps. This is a popular event for artists and agents because they have the chance to be the one to “approach” and ask questions. Presenters expect to meet artists here so make sure you’re present!

And there’s a contest…

Presenters compete for the status of “best booth” during Turn The Tables. They get pretty invested in this prize and will often bring elaborate decorations and baked goods to sway things in their favor. (Yum!) A secret judge scrutinizes the displays and announces the winner on Saturday night.

Resource Room Sessions

Access to the Resource Room is by conference badge only. Artists and agents set up booths in the Resource Room with samples of their work and information related to booking. A detailed Resource Room map with artist booths labeled will be made available.

A dedicated “Resource Room Hour” is scheduled directly after each showcase. These events are excellent for continuing conversations started at the Turn The Tables event, building up hype for an upcoming showcase, and following up on interest after a showcase.

Don’t leave early! If your showcase is early in the day, it still pays to make sure you have booth representation through the end of the last Resource Room hour. There are a lot of people at the MPAC conference so it might take an interested presenter the entire day to make their way to your booth and they will take note if you’ve left early.

Etiquette is important in the resource room. Click here for tips.

Artist Jam Sessions

The Jam is an informal, artist-run gathering of attendees held Saturday night after dinner. Participation is voluntary and open to all. No special registration is required—just show up! Beverages are available at a no-host bar.

The sound engineer and stage crew provide a basic set-up with amplification. Spontaneous collaboration is a highlight of this event and it is well attended by conference registrants.

Tips for the Jam Session:

  • Perform one act at a time and allow everyone who wants to participate a chance to do so

  • Shorter performances are most conducive to this setting

  • Be prepared to cover hits that other musicians can easily join in on. Collaboration is key!

Artist meetings

New for October 2023: Artist Orientation Meeting

Kick off the conference by meeting your fellow artists and agents and getting tips for a successful conference experience.

Artist closing meeting

This meeting is scheduled on Saturday because we are aware that many must leave by Sunday morning. You won't miss any important networking events because all the presenters will be in the first Block-Booking Meeting at the same time. During this time artists elect a representative for a 1-year term on the MPAC Board. It's also a chance to discuss how their MPAC conference experience and make s​suggestions for improvements. Feedback is reported to MPAC's Board of Directors by the current Artist Board Representative.

Also recommended

Conference dining events

The MPAC dining tables have seats reserved for artists and agents to encourage mingling and making new connections! Meals are a great opportunity to get to know other conference attendees. Chandee Bomgardner has been catering MPAC’s Annual Showcase and Conference for years and always gets excellent reviews. We are pleased that she’ll be back to feed us in Great Falls in October 2023! Catered conference meals are not included with registration but can be purchased separately or added on at the time of registration purchase.

Other artists’ showcases and booths

If time permits, artists and agents are encouraged to watch other showcases and visit other booths. (Be mindful of the right time to engage other booth exhibitors. Don’t interrupt conversations between presenters and artists/agents.) There’s much to learn from each other and MPAC supports a collegial atmosphere.


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