The cutting edge American Realness dance and performance festival is heading into its seventh consecutive season at Abrons Arts Center, but first the team is focused on raising $15,000 to complete their budget. The funds will insure they can use all of their box office income to pay the artists, technicians and festival staff that are participating in the festival in January of 2016.
The festival, founded by curator and producer Ben Pryor, has come a long way since it began as a three day festival, held in one theater, at Abrons. It is offered in conjunction with APAP (the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenter’s Conference) and is now recognized as a major international contender that runs for eleven days, utilizing all three theaters at Abrons, as well as some off-site venues at places like PS 1 and MoMA.
Over the last few years, Pryor has presented an array of artists on a shoestring budget including Miguel Gutierrez, Trajal Harrell, Ann Liv Young, Eleanor Bauer, Jack Ferver, Liz Santoro, DANCENOISE, Jillian Peña, Big Dance Theater, Big Art Group and Keith Hennessy to name a few. Pryor has also expanded the programming to include workshops, talks, parties, events, and the work of a few international artists each year.
Pryor, who is currently on tour with Miguel Gutierrez, makes it clear that as the festival has grown, so has the operating budget, and although he’s been able to larger and larger amounts of funding, the festival is still radically under-funded. Participating artists rarely make as much as their shows cost to produce, but he is proud to say they do receive a decent share from the box office these days.
“Artists are really doing this for the exposure, because they believe in it and they’re hungry for the opportunity to show the work in front of so many other professionals,” Pryor said in an interview.
“I never really expected this thing to keep going as it has, but I think part of why it’s still going is because it has really filled this need that existed, so now, just trying to support it better is the next step,” he said.
Pryer said he is excited about a lot of new work being presented this year, including a world premiere from Jillian Pena that is a new duet for Bessie Award nominees Alexandra Albrecht and Andrew Champlin, and a U.S. premier from one of New York’s favorite downtown dance maestros, Yvonne Meier.
You can learn more about the festival and contribute to the campaign here.