The 7 P’s of Presenting

I am proud to say I work in the field of “Arts Presenting.”  At its simplest, it means any person or organization presenting performances.  Overall, it means the design, contracting, marketing, production, and presentation of arts events.

I’ve had the opportunity on occasion to speak to one of our college classes on what arts presenting is, or as they often think of it, what happens “behind the curtain.” The lecture I’ve given is called the “The 7 P’s of Presenting: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Presenting Poor Performances.”

While this might be a skewed towards the work I do with the Middlebury’s Performing Arts Series, I’ve attached the checklist and resources I developed for this lecture, and encourage you to look it over if you’ve ever wondered what happens to make that concert/dance/theatre performance you are attending a success.

The 7 P’s of Presenting: Prior proper planning prevents presenting poor performances!

Curation & Contracts

  • Develop artistic vision for your season or series
  • Research artists and discuss possibilities with artist management agencies
  • Book artists: includes negotiation on fee, date, repertoire and other contractual terms (lodgings, travel, broadcast permissions, technical requests, commissions, etc.)
  • Review contract, make changes & addendums
  • Secure Tech rider & Tech director’s OK
  • Secure fully-executed contract
  • Distribute contact details to staff
  • Ensure visas and tax paperwork in order
  • Develop and manage artists’ local itinerary, including performances and outreach events

  • Consult with Tech Director on artist’s Technical Rider for feasibility and implied costs
  • Collect vendor estimates if needed
  • Cost/arrange for technical rentals
  • Convey Venue specifics to artists
  • Load-in/Load-out scheduling and concerns
  • Schedule necessary staffing or IATSE Union workers
  • Develop rehearsals schedules
  • Arrange any transport related to technical needs (freight trucks, etc.)
  • Arrange for piano tuners and page-turners

  • Consider, reserve & confirm appropriate venue for the performance
  • Consider technical/staging needs
  • Ensure venue properties acceptable to artist (i.e. a balcony-in-the-round, thrust stage, etc.) Confirm audience capacity.
  • Reserve/confirm green/dressing room(s)
  • Determine seating plan – Reserved works best for sell-out or piano shows, General Admission usually fine otherwise
  • Arrange/confirm custodial, security or catering needs
  • Ensure venue carries appropriate licenses (ASCAP/BMI)
  • Ensure venue and event meet ADA compliance standards

  • Develop event budget
  • Research/apply for additional funding sources (grants, foundations, etc.)
  • Ensure all potential costs and funding sources are identified:
  1. artistic fee
  2. technical needs
  3. staffing implications
  4. venue costs (rental fee, plus any required custodial or security services)
  5. artist lodgings (depends on contract terms)
  6. artist transportation (depends on contract terms)
  7. visa petitions (for foreign national artists)
  8. hospitality (green room and/or restaurant meals – might be specified needs in technical rider)
  9. piano tunings
  10. page turners
  11. programs (regular and large print)
  12. advertising
  13. posters and other promotional materials
  14. outreach costs / fees for lecturers / etc.
  15. receptions, ticketing fees (if any)

  • Arrange for box office services, if ticketing needed
  • Schedule legally-required crowd managers
  • Schedule additional usher staff, if needed
  • Coordinate concession or merchandise sales
  • Have a cancellation plan at the ready

  • Obtain artist bios, press kits, photos
  • Compose promotional texts
  • Ensure all contractually required text, logos and sponsorships listed in publicity
  • Develop marketing plan based on event. May include posters, radio, TV, press release, mailings, website(s), social media, etc.
  • Contact audiences/organizations that might have a specific interest in a performance
  • Work with community organizations on any cross-promotions or outreach needs
Program Books

  • Obtain program content, order, artist bios, etc.
  • Design program. Develop program notes, if needed.
  • Ensure inclusion of contractually required credits or logos
  • Design large print program
  • Submit & proof program with printers
Event Follow-up

  • Solicit feedback from partners, artists, audience, reviews
  • Archive attendance & revenue stats; archive publicity
  • Compile all receipts for payment, and complete grant report if any.


For more information on presenting performances, I recommend the following resources:

Presenting Performances: A Basic Handbook for the Twenty-first Century
by Thomas Wolf, Published by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, 2000
ISBN 0-926517-10-4 273 pages, paperbound

Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Wolf, Published by Simon & Schuster, 1999
ISBN 0-684-84990-9 368 pages, paperbound

Fundamentals of Arts Management FIFTH EDITION
Written and Compiled by Arts Extension Service, UMass Amherst, softcover, 400 pages
available at:

Arts Management: A Practical Guide
by Jennifer Radbourne, Publisher: Allen & Unwin; (March 1997)
ISBN: 1864480483, Paperback: 285 pages

Selected Arts Presenting Links:

National Endowment for the Arts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Association of Performing Arts Presenters
International Society for the Performing Arts
Americans for the Arts
Center for Arts Management and Technology
Chamber Music America
UMass Arts Extension Svc.