The Montana Performing Arts Consortium formed in November, 1981, and became tax-exempt the following year. During its first nine years, MPAC arranged over fifty tours of performing arts events and saved presenters over $900,000 on reduced fees for block-booked events (cost difference between a single run-out and a block rate). Such a savings has not only increased the number of events presenters were able to offer, but also stimulated audience growth.
Furthermore, MPAC leadership provided consultations which influenced the creation of a number of performing arts subscription series including: Hobson (Judith Cultural Committee), Havre (Northern Montana College), Hardin (Jailhouse Gallery), White Sulphur Springs (Meagher County Arts Council), Fort Peck (Fort Peck Fine Arts Council, Inc.), Whitefish (Whitefish Theatre Company), Choteau (Performing Arts League), Deer Lodge (Powell Performances), Lewistown (Lewistown Art Center), Anaconda (Copper Village Arts Center), and Ronan (The Folkshop, Inc.).
MPAC believes that Montana artists’ development must go hand in hand with presenter development. In 1984 MPAC initiated the first Montana Performing Artists’ Showcase, which has become an annual event, along with a Block-booking Conference. Both events generate increased bookings for Montana Artists and encourage emerging or smaller Montana presenters to book more events. Since 1988, artists elected their own voting member on the board of directors.
MPAC continues to assist the development of rural and emerging presenters through the Presenter Development program designed specifically for their needs. Since 1987, with funds from the Montana Cultural Trust and Montana Arts Council, MPAC has supplied nearly $200,000 in fee support monies to emerging and established rural presenters. This assistance helped them in developing a performing arts series, upgrading existing series, and developing artist residency programs in their communities.
In 1991, MPAC successfully applied for a two-year national model pilot project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Presenting and Commissioning Program to study the effect of federal funding on rural series programming. The result of this study was that MPAC served as the model for and, at the invitation of the National Endowment for the Arts, became one of six original participants in the Rural and Inner City Re-grant Initiative.
MPAC cooperated with the Montana Dance Arts Association and co-sponsored a highly successful month-long residency in four Montana cities of the Doug Varone modern dance company in 1995.
In 2006, WESTAF’s Hub Grant sponsored the Dallas Brass tour of MT.