Carla Perlo

What the National Performance Network has Meant to Dance Place

by Carla Perlo

Carla Perlo

It might seem strange that I compare, measure and am reminded of the significance of the National Performance Network in relationship to my greatest production, my son Daniel Perlo Bloom. I took my son, Daniel to the first NPN meeting in 1985, and I nursed him as ten presenters sat around a small table and shared ideas about how to move the field forward. My son is now a full-grown man with a solid career in the radio industry as a producer and head engineer of the Bob Edwards show on XM/Sirus radio, and the NPN has grown to be the most consistent funding source and important network for presenters and artists in the United States. The NPN has offered us guaranteed support without judgment, an opportunity to meet and network with colleagues, a mechanism for investing in new work, a vehicle for sharing information and a streamlined approach to contracting and negotiating artists’ fees.

It has changed the way we all do business. Even for non-NPN engagements, Presenters and artists utilize the NPN fee structure as a guideline for contract negotiations. Often you hear presenters asking artists, “Can you tour with NPN fees? If so, how many total people will be touring?” The answer to those two questions replaces hours of negotiations. The time between the presenters, managers and artists can now be spent on the more important aspects of touring, which is how to engage the community in the work, plans for presenting the work in an artistically rewarding fashion, rather than hours negotiating compensation.

The NPN’s approach to funding is unique. It assures each partner annual support to be used as direct subsidy for artists’ touring residencies without an application process. It does not challenge a presenters’ selection process or dictate who is eligible for these funds. As far as I know, this is the only support of this nature in our country. It also has provided a unique, affordable mechanism of matching funding sources so that partnering presenters can combine resources to support the creation of new work. Through this collaborative approach, presenters can afford to take a leadership role in the creation of new work.

The NPN has supported me as a presenter and Dance Place in risk taking, community engagement, collaborative partnerships, issues of social justice and diversity of programming. The NPN has assisted me in becoming a presenter. The influence of David White, the creator of NPN, encouraged me during some of my darkest hours to be a leader in the field of presenting. Today the support of my colleagues and relationships with performing artists across the US through the NPN continues to be the strength and inspiration I need as Dance Place enters its 30th Anniversary — presenting every weekend, training dancers six days a week, providing a rigorous program for youth and training the next generation of performers and arts administrators. Visit us at www.danceplace.org to learn more about our work.

About Carla
Carla Perlo founded DC Wheel Productions, Inc. (Dance Place) and co-directs the organization with Deborah Riley.  She has been praised for her unique ability to operate simultaneously as artist and administrator. Carla has taught and performed in the US, UK, Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Israel. In 1991, Carla formed Carla & Company, a professional dance company dedicated to building new audiences for dance through community performances targeting a wide variety of groups and ages. Carla has served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts and Maryland State Arts Council. She received the Pola Nirenska Memorial Award for her service and dedication to the field of dance in 1996 and was named a “Washingtonian of the Year” in 1997 by Washingtonian Magazine. In 1999, Carla received the George Mason University Cultural Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named WETA’s Hometown Hero in 2001. In 2003, she was honored with the Founder’s Award from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and in 2006 received the Alan M. Kreigsman award from Metro DC Dance Awards. From 1994 to 1997, Carla and Dance Place served as the National Coordinator for DanceAfrica America. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Performance Network and is currently on the advisory board of Dance Metro, DC.

Published January 2010




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