Home News & Events Catch up with last year's Spotlight Showcase artists

Catch up with last year's Spotlight Showcase artists

We asked the 2018 artists and ensembles what they’ve been up to

After working closely with the arists and ensembles who performed at our 2018 Spotlight Showcases, we wanted to check back in with them to see what they’re working on now. Check out these highlights from the past few months or plans for their year ahead.

Don’t forget: Applications are now open for the 2019 Spotlight Showcases – apply before March 11 (previously March 7) for your chance to showcase in Minneapolis this September.

Learn more and apply now

Che Apalache. Photo by Mauro Milanich.

Che Apalache

“The impact of the Arts Midwest Spotlight Showcase opportunity has been immense. I have booked shows in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, and Louisiana, and we are under consideration for a Nebraska tour. On February 19th, Che Apalache will be going to Nashville to record their U.S. debut album with Bela Fleck producing, scheduled for fall 2019 release.” —Herschel Freeman, Herschel Freeman Agency

Mike Wiley. Photo by Stephen Barefoot.

Mike Wiley

Mike Wiley has continued touring the country with performances, residencies, and workshops in middle schools, universities, and performing arts centers. In December, Mike led a group of 50+ travelers on a four-day “Journey to Montgomery.” The group followed the route of the Freedom Riders of 1961 while Mike performed excerpts from his plays. On site where the Freedom Riders were barricaded and bombed in 1961, Mike performed his play Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till. Mike’s agent Stephen Barefoot says, “It was an intensely emotional experience for all, with many travelers moved to commit toward more active roles in fighting injustice and hatred upon their return.” Details on the experience can be found here, and a similar experience is being planned for 2019.

METdance. Photo by Ben Doyle.


METdance began fall with a four-day tour in Colorado Springs and a project called “Brazilian Beats.” The group also performed their “When We Take Flight” piece for three nights at the Match in Houston, and collaborated with the Houston Chamber Choir on a pantomime ballet. Over winter, the group prepared for their “DUO” concert, where they present six new works from choreographers for three nights, as well as a handful of educational performances. This spring, they will perform their concert “Better Together” with iMEE, and will perform eight “Moving Myths” shows to over 2,500 children. The group is looking forward to their NEWdance commission this summer, as well as numerous educational performances, and their “Sizzling Summer Dance” Concert and Professional Intensive.

Shaun Boothe. Photo by CJ Cromwell.

Shaun Boothe

“Shaun is receiving great reviews from his 2019-2020 tour. Shaun is an awesome emerging artist in the U.S. marketplace and we are so happy to hear the response of these ‘early adopter’ presenters! Shaun just presented a week in Colorado (Lone Tree and Fort Collins) and was filmed during an outreach event in Denver. Lone Tree is asking for return engagements in the 2019-2020 season!” —Michelle Cockburn, Living Arts Centre.

Read Shaun’s recent interview with Forbes here.

Farah Siraj. Photo by Ann Blake.

Farah Siraj

Farah Siraj was named the 2018 Peace Ambassador for the Harmony for Peace Foundation and has been touring the U.S. with concerts and youth programs. Farah is also releasing a new single and music video this month that combines Jordanian folk music with blues, paying tribute to both her Jordanian music heritage and the musical heritage of her second home, the U.S. She will return to the studio in March to record material to be released this summer, and will tour Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East. In May, she will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a Masters of Liberal Arts, concentrating on animal rights, human security, and global sustainability. She strongly believes in using her music as a tool for advocacy for human rights and animal rights.

Jig Jam. Photo by Colin Gillen.


It has been a busy year for JigJam so far. The group has been writing and arranging their upcoming album Phoenix which was followed by a sellout show in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. They were also the feature of a BBC (British Broadcasting Company) TV show called “Seirm” to be broadcast in May. Currently, they are in the recording process before kicking off their world tour across the U.S., Australia, and Zimbabwe. After this, they will release a new album and hit the road again for festivals across the U.K. and U.S.

The Paper Boys. Photo by Christopher Edmondstone.

The Paper Boys

Last fall, The Paper Boys toured Germany as a trio and hit the road with the BC World Music Collective, a group of musicians from all over the globe who now make British Colombia their home. They loved this opportunity to meet international fans. The group has also started working on new material and are looking forward to their upcoming shows. The band is very thankful for the support they have received, and encourage you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

QuartettoGelato. Photo by Mitch Eckhardt.

Quartetto Gelato

Quartetto Gelato has been busy with several projects, including a tour in the U.S., outreach events, and masterclasses with high school and university students. The band loves doing outreach and the cultural exchange of music, so they are planning trips to Africa and Italy to play for and work with local students and musicians. They have also begun recording a new album of eclectic music which will span many styles including the sounds of Romania, Moldova, Scotland, and South America. In the near future, the band has many shows scheduled in Ontario, their home province, as well as some dates in the U.S. In May, they will return to Alberta, Canada for the fifth year to headline the Canmore Uncorked Food and Wine Festival.

SHAPESHIFT. Photo by Jaqlin Medlock Booking Dance.


“Minneapolis based SHAPESHIFT is having great fun! They recently returned to Minneapolis after taking the stage at APAP’s Booking Dance Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. They have been busy teaching masterclasses and expanding their community engagement and outreach programs, both in the Twin Cities and outstate Minnesota. SHAPESHIFT loves the journey and is looking forward to a year of performances for the 2019-2020 season! They just inked a deal with a New York based booking agency. Find out more about Shapeshift here.” —James Selmer, SHAPESHIFT Dance.

Axiom Brass. Photo by Dario Acosta Photography.

Axiom Brass

After previewing their “Limitless” concert at the 2018 Arts Midwest Conference, Axiom Brass has had an eventful year. They started their season in Chicago with salon style concerts at private homes and small venues, and will soon be presenting several educational programs in schools around the city. They performed in Maine as part of the Blue Hill Concert Association, in Columbus, Georgia, joining professional chorus Cantus Columbus, and this month will be off to the Dominican Republic for concerts and clinics. The end of their season will bring two more east coast tours, and a recording session for their newest album to be released in fall of 2019. They are looking forward to their Canadian and Mexican debuts in the 2019-2020 season. You can watch part of their current repertoire here.

Carol Swarbrick, More Than a President’s Mother. Photo by Joshua Feist.

More Than a President’s Mother

In More Than a President’s Mother – The Lillian Carter Story, Carol Swarbrick, who co-wrote the script with director Jim Dries, performs the role of Lillian Carter in this powerhouse one-woman show. Following their showcase, they performed at the Juan de Fuca Festival for the Arts in Port Angeles, Washington and at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, B.C. for six performances, and received excellent feedback from both. Contact [email protected] if you’d like to know more.

collectif 9. Photo by Danylo Bobyk.

collectif 9

“Since their showcase at Arts Midwest in 2018, collectif9 has been very busy! Concert tours have taken them across Canada, Mexico, and France. They performed My Backyard, Somewhere, a multimedia collaboration with percussion quartet Architek featuring commissioned works by Canadian composers. In November, they were featured at the Morelia festival in Mexico in a series of concerts, workshops, and collaborations. They also released their second full-length album, No Time for Chamber Music, a re-interpretation of works by and inspired by Gustav Mahler. They just returned home to Montreal after a series of concerts in France as part of Nante’s Folle Journée Festival. The coming months will see them touring through the Western U.S. and concerts in the U.K., including The Barbican in London, in May.”

Val Vigoda. Photo by Jeff Carpenter.

Val Vigoda

Val Vigoda’s Off-Broadway musical Ernest Shackleton Loves Me aired on PBS, and is available to watch here if you missed it. She’s seeing many creative opportunities come to fruition, one being that she is writing for Disney again. She also performed her “PEAK Aliveness” musical keynote for her largest audience yet at the The Special Event 2019, which took place at the San Diego Convention Center. While there, she held her first educational workshop on “PEAK” which was all about how to live more creatively and less fearfully. Val will be playing, singing, and speaking at more conferences later in the year, and launching her “PEAK Aliveness” online course this spring.

Max Hatt / Edda Glass. Photo by J.C. Yates.

Max Hatt / Edda Glass

Max Hatt / Edda Glass were selected by APAP to give an Up Next! Pitch Session at the 2019 APAP Conference in New York City. The group is also busy preparing for their upcoming show at the Vashon Center for the Arts in Washington, which will feature their full band and wide screen projections of images from the same evocative and dream-like collection they presented at APAP. Additionally, they are finishing up an album set for release in fall 2019 and preparing for their spring and fall tours of performing arts centers and concert series nation-wide.

Dance Kaleidoscope. Photo by Chris Crawl.

Dance Kaleidoscope

“After the 2018 Arts Midwest Conference and our spotlight showcase, Dance Kaleidoscope has continued to be extremely busy in the Indianapolis area and has secured two tours and possibly a third for 2019-2020. We have worked with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, and fellows from the American Pianist Association. We are creating new works on the 2019 Exhibit Columbus architectural prize winners and performing new works for the Indy Fringe Festival. It has already been an extremely successful season for us so far.” —Lynn Webster, Dance Kaleidoscope