globalFEST – Challenge Semi-Finalist

View from a performance at globalFEST.

Our adaptive challenge

Because the United States marketplace for international artists is complex, and operates in a unique space between the non- profit and commercial presenting spheres, globalFEST (gF) will support the development of sustainable touring careers for world music artists in the United States by developing a package of support services for them and the field.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

Over the past 2 years, globalFEST has begun to evolve from an annual showcase/festival into a year-round service organization. gF received is 501(c)3 in spring 2012 and has received two presitgious grant awards in recent months. The opportunity to leverage the support of these two well-respected funders, globalFEST’s 10th anniversary, and myriad requests for new types of partnership cannot be ignored. Since its founding, gF has been on the cutting edge of the world music presenting field and has helped to give focus to work that is happening among a decentralized group of organizations, government programs, and individuals. It is run by three dedicated volunteers who are among the top presenters and advocates in the United States.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

Since 2003, globalFEST has produced a world music showcase/festival during the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference in New York City. This event is a proven springboard for world music touring and cultural exchange in the United States — more than 120 artists have been showcased and many have launched careers in North America as a result of participation. It has been our assumption that this event would expand the ecosystem for world music touring in the U.S., which has been historically based on a limited number of markets and has involved a handful of presenters who represent both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that this annual event, while catalytic, is not enough.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

gF alumni artists face a steep learning curve to furthering their careers in the U.S. — it is a far more complex market than other regions of the world. There is also a growing sense of validity between non-profit (e.g. performing arts center) and for-profit (e.g. festival) presenters. It is a relatively new phenomenon that each have opened up to different kinds of artists; world music artists in particular often tour between the two. Navigating the different expectations of these two types of presenters can be challenging for international artists. To support artists in their efforts to further their careers in the U.S., gF is testing a modest touring fund that is designed to bring artists to new markets and has no regard for presenter type.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

To address the issues that persist for artists once they have participated in globalFEST’s flagship showcase, gF imagines building out a package of support services that will:

  1. help artists to navigate the complex US marketplace,
  2. continue to expand the marketplace for world music, and
  3. remove structural barriers and incentivize touring.

Our vision of success

globalFEST’s goal is to move world music to the center of the performing arts field/live music industry so that more members of the public, especially those outside of major markets, can experience a broad range of the world’s music and culture. This vision includes: expanding the curatorial vision of presenters in both the non-profit and for profit sector to book international music, building sustainable touring careers by and for world music artists, and feeding an expanding appetite for this music. gF serves both international and U.S.-based artists.


globalFEST's annual showcase/festival is a springboard for the careers of global music artists from the United States and abroad, and brings together 500 arts professionals for the annual Arts Presenters conference. globalFEST's touring fund has brought 50 artists to 30 new markets over two years.