Performing in Schools

Each year, in-school performances by professional artists provide thousands of young audiences across BC with high-quality, visceral experiences of the arts. These performances, in a wide variety of disciplines, take place in school theatres, gymnasiums, and community venues, exposing young people to exceptional arts experiences that enliven, educate and entertain.

max-i-mimeArtStarts books and coordinates over 2000 in-school performances annually. If you are a professional performing artist who is interested in touring BC schools, we offer a number of resources that can help you develop, market, and begin touring your school show.

ArtStarts Showcase
Artists on Tour Directory
Booking & Touring Service
Making sure your school visit runs smoothly
Other Resources

ArtStarts Showcase

The ArtStarts Showcase is a performing arts showcase and conference with a long track record of attendance by teachers, school district representatives, and community programmers from all over BC.

The Showcase provides artists with a unique opportunity to give young audience presenters a preview of their show for school and family audiences, and is a critical piece of their success in school touring. Representing a diverse mix of established and new artists, the event features more than 40 twelve-minute showcases over three days.

To showcase, you must:

  • Present a 12-minute excerpt of your school performance.
  • Be available to tour for at least 4 weeks in BC through the ArtStarts booking service (including at least 3 weeks outside the Lower Mainland).
  • Be able to perform for an average school audience of 400 to 500 students (Exceptions are made for storytellers, workshopping artists and groups offering two shows to smaller audiences at a rate comparable to one large show).
  • Submit your application form before the deadline. Please visit our Forms & Deadlines page for information on the upcoming deadline, and to download the full guidelines and application form.

For more details about the Showcase, click here.

Artists On Tour Directory

Our Artists On Tour Directory features artists selected, recommended and promoted to arts programmers in schools across BC. Artist listings include a photo, bio, program description and more. Listings are organized by name, discipline and event type so that programmers can easily find artists working or touring in their area. Each year, ArtStarts publishes both a print and an online version of the directory.

Before you can be listed in the directory, you must first apply and be accepted to the ArtStarts Showcase.

Booking & Touring

ArtStarts’ Booking & Touring service helps artists to handle each stage of the booking process, from initial inquiry right through to signing the contracts. Some artists have an agent or manager who will take care of certain logistics, while others prefer to leave everything to us. Either way, ArtStarts is here to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Here is how it works:

1. Determine your availability
Before the touring season begins, you provide ArtStarts with a list of dates (minimum 4 weeks) during which you are available to tour throughout BC.

2. Schools select your presentation
Using the Showcase and the Artists On Tour Directory as guides, schools may select your presentation to bring into their communities, informing ArtStarts of their decision.

3. Preliminary Booking Summary

Acting as a liaison between you and the schools, ArtStarts sends you a Preliminary Booking summary outlining any requests for your presentation.

4. Making changes
Once you’ve reviewed the Booking summary, you inform ArtStarts of any necessary changes within 30 days.

5. Contracts are issued

ArtStarts issues contracts to each of the schools where you will be presenting.

6. Agreements and Itineraries
We send you an Agreement on Contracted Events, along with an up-to-date Artist Itinerary containing dates, times, venues, addresses, phone numbers and contact names for each school on your tour.

7. Payment

Some schools will pay you directly, while others will have ArtStarts handle the payment instead. ArtStarts will provide you with an Invoice Summary outlining who will be issuing the payment for each event on your itinerary.

8. You start performing in schools!

Making sure your school visit runs smoothly

There are a few things you can do in advance of your school visits to make sure every presentation runs smoothly.

  • Send your study guide to the school at least two weeks before your visit. This will help familiarize teachers and students with your work, and let them know what to expect during your visit.
  • Contact each school at least one week in advance to re-confirm dates and arrival times. If you have any technical needs, make sure the school knows about them.
  • Make sure you are aware of any school-related details, such as parking availability, sign-in procedures, lunch facilities, and staff-room location.

Other Resources

Artist Services Agreement (PDF - 500 KB)
This agreement outlines in detail the range of services offered by ArtStarts in Schools to selected artists working in the BC schools and young audience market.

Map of BC School Districts' Booking & Billing Systems (PDF - 1 MB)
BC schools book and pay performing artists in a variety of ways. In some cases, School Districts handle both booking and payment on behalf of all the schools in their districts, while in others cases schools book and pay artists individually. Still other districts use a mixture of these two systems. This map provides an overview of how each school district in BC books and pays artists.

Stats & Facts on BC School Districts (PDF - 66 KB)
This document contains some background information on BC School Districts, including student populations, rate of school closures, and booking trends. It was complied in November of 2009.

Developing a Study Guide (PDF - 266 KB)
Performing artists who work with school audiences should create a study guide to send to schools in advance of a performance. This document, developed by a panel of educators, outlines how to produce an effective study guide.