The Australian Performing Arts Centres Association conference is being held this week in Darwin, part of the Darwin Festival, which winds up this weekend. (Crikey's spies tell us that Mary Anne Butler's new show Highway of Lost Hearts has been creating plenty of buzz).

APACA is Australia's peak body for performing arts centres -- a more interesting sector than many realise, with representatives right across the nation in hundreds of venues and centres small and large, particularly in regional Australia. Performing arts centres are particularly important in terms of regional touring infrastructure, often representing the only venue in a regional city that can accommodate theatre or dance. According to APACA executive director Rick Heath, there is a lot of slack capacity in the sector. APACA estimates performing arts centres are vacant about 40% of the time.