Durham’s ArtsMarket conference seeks to revitalize live performances in North Carolina


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Many may have never heard of the ArtsMarket booking conference, but for local singer, songwriter, and cellist Shana Tucker, it’s how she got her big break.

“I was trying to figure out so how do I get from coffee shop in the corner while everybody’s talking to Carolina theater or to DPAC,” said Tucker. 

ArtsMarket is a chance for performing artists to hit the stage and showcase their talent to the people responsible for booking live shows across the state. It’s put on by the North Carolina Presenters Consortium (NCPC) and the NC Arts Council every other year.

“This is how performing arts centers get the information they need to make good choices about what’s going to be on their stage,” said Vicki Vitiello, director of operations for the NC Arts

Vitiello says the ArtsMarket, held in Durham, NC, is one the country’s first booking conferences to come back live after the pandemic.  It helps presenters like Scotty Henley decide what shows or acts to bring to his stage at the Clayton arts center.

“We’re trying to get people together for work. We’ve been shut down for 18/19 months mainly and arts are starting to come back together,” said Henley, executive director of the Clayton arts center. 

“There is a magic and an energy that happens during a live show that you cannot replicate via zoom, you cannot replicate it just being in front of a camera and just imagining that people are there watching,” said Tucker. “There’s this commonality of goodness that comes from the music that you hear, a familiar song, or a song you never heard before.”

Tucker says ArtsMarket was a pivotal step in her career after going for the first time in 2011. She’s been able to take her talents from the small coffee shops to some of the state’s biggest stages.

Leaders in the arts industry said ArtsMarket can also inspire a new generation of artists that continue to fuel the local talent supply in the triangle and beyond.

“You never know when somebody is in this audience that they might get inspired through that music through that comedy, through that art piece, whatever it may be to jump into the art world; next thing you know we’ve got this brilliant artist or performer in front of us that we never knew existed,” added Scotty Henley. 

ArtsMarket runs November 8-10 in Durham at the Carolina Theater and will return in 2023.

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