Recently the BHA National Council (the “Council”) met for its annual face to face meeting, this time in Adelaide, so that the facilities for the 2018 Convention could be inspected. All Councillors attended and a wide ranging discussion was had. Key points are listed below.
The Council encourages comments and input from members on any of the topics discussed, or even not discussed. Please contact the Secretary with your input.
The meeting began with a Strategy Discussion, with a number of questions considered:
WHAT is Barbershop Harmony Australia?
We are an association of barbershop clubs in Australia.
We act together to promote barbershop singing and share camaraderie.
We gather together annually for conventions and contests.
HOW can we most effectively promote BHA?
Strong clubs with strong musical leadership underpin our organisation and are the conduit for:
BHA National Council Guiding Principles:
We will emphasize mutually respectful relationships across BHA.
We will build links with individual clubs.
We will promote members’ pride in belonging to BHA.
We will celebrate the successes of BHA.
We will provide tools and resources, within a limited budget, to support barbershop development.
We will make support for club musical leadership teams our highest priority.
We will expect local clubs to take responsibility for coordinating and facilitating local recruiting, marketing, and retention programs.
The key outcome from all of this is that the Club is our most important conduit to new members and communication with members. Our chorus music directors are incredibly important, not only in guiding our music, but attracting and retaining members.
We then discussed initiatives in the various portfolios.
The Secretary noted that he mostly receives communications from Clubs and members regarding renewal of membership and re-registration of quartets etc. There seems to be a lack of understanding of the process involved (although the forms are all on the BHA website). One possible cause could be the annual turn-over of Club Secretaries, with the incoming person not familiar with the process, and not receiving guidance from the outgoing Secretary.
Quartets too, do not seem to understand the need to re-register each year. Members, Clubs and quartets who do not re-register are not covered for insurance or performing rights, and are not eligible to participate in BHA affairs, including contests. Re-registering with BHA every year is essential.
The other issue we considered were the dates of the membership year. Currently these are 1 October to 30 September, but most Clubs operate on an annual basis, so a calendar year would make more sense.
Under Membership we considered communication issues that seem to continue. Despite Council’s best efforts, via this newsletter, it seems many of our members do not bother to read it. It potentially leads to a misunderstanding of what your Council does for you. While we occasionally undertake surveys of members to get feedback, we now also plan to undertake a process whereby each Councillor will contact three or four Clubs to discuss your issues and your ideas. That will roll out sometime in the next month or two.
We also want to help Clubs with access to contemporary repertoire, assist those Clubs who feel they have inadequate structures and processes for promoting membership, and we want to encourage clubs to help each other more.
Marketing is all about communication, with Clubs and with the public. Some of you will have noticed the new format for our bi-monthly newsletter, In Harmony. Apparently the format has not suited everyone, but we do feel it has been well received by the majority of members.
Addressing member communications and noting that many members still do not appear to read In Harmony, it was decided that:
A regular monthly newsletter, similar to BHS’s Livewire, will be issued with dates, reminders, and ad hoc communications. The newsletter will have an interesting and vibrant style.
In Harmony will now be published quarterly rather than bi-monthly. It will be a “feel good” publication that promotes the barbershop culture. It will include information/ club material, reports from VPs etc. We will investigate improving the design of the publication.
We are also getting very active on social media, but a number of “unofficial” Facebook pages have sprung up, all representing BHA, and these need to be amalgamated into the one page. We will also undertake an upgrade of our BHA website to make it more user-friendly.
HarmonySite continues to be an excellent platform for our Clubs, especially since it shares information with the BHA website, therefore minimising Club secretarial work in maintaining membership records. BHA continues to support and recommend HarmonySite to Clubs.
Another marketing issue discussed was building our archive and promoting our brand through media such as YouTube. BHS is now doing this very successfully. Many of our early Conventions were recorded on video, so these will be digitised and displayed on BHA’s own YouTube channel.
Finally, our external communications need to have pertinent messages that describe who we are and what we do. The Council brainstormed some ideas on this, including: “fun, changing men’s singing culture, inclusiveness, men’s health benefits, contemporary music, inspiring music, benefits of barbershop in every school, Australia’s most recognizable music/vocal organisation, it’s cool to be a barbershopper”. If you have any ideas to add, please send them through!
In the Events portfolio, we are very squarely focussed on the forthcoming Pan Pac Convention and Harmony University in Sydney in September. The Convention will be preceded by two days of workshops with Deke Sharon, the “father” of modern a cappella singing. These workshops will be open and free to all BHA Youth members. BHA full members can purchase tickets for the two days for $50.
The Council considered and approved the Convention program and budget. Key points are:
Dates: Thursday 28 September to Sunday 1 October 2017
Venue: International Convention Centre Sydney (ICCS)
Registration Cost: Early Bird (by 31 May 2017) $360 delegate, $340 partner Full (after 31 May 2017) $420 delegate, $400 partner
No Youth discount because of the free Deke Sharon workshops
There are many hotels in the Darling Harbour district of Sydney and a list of these can be found here www.darlingharbour.com/stay/. The “headquarters” hotel will be the Oaks Goldsborough. Our Welcome Gala event is included in registration, and will be held at the fabulous Doltone House, a short 10 minute walk from the ICCS. At this stage only delegates and partner delegates will be able to attend the Welcome Gala. There may be separate ticketing available later, but that will depend on delegate numbers.
Our Harmony University will be held at the Naamaroo Conference Centre in Lan Cove, close to the city. Details are:
Dates: Sunday 1 to Wednesday 4 October 2017
Venue: Naamaroo Conference Centre, Lane Cove
Registration Cost: $340 per person
After Sydney, our next Conventions will be Adelaide (2018) and Hobart (2019). The next Pan Pac will be in Auckland in 2020.
The Council continues to be concerned about the Regional Contest weekends being held. Some involve an educational component but others do not. Providing the judges for these events is a major item in our annual budget, and these educators have agreed to be available for educational workshops. It is clearly the best use of member’s funds if an educational event is attached.
A review of the current regional structure is planned to determine if it is the most sensible and efficient way to run these events, and the local affairs of BHA in the regions.
In the Contest area, we voted to bring us into accord with the other world Affiliates by changing the rule for mixed quartets from a two and two (“2 + 2”) male/female mix to a three and one (“3 + 1”) male/female mix. This will allow our BHNZ contestants to join in the Pan Pac mixed quartet contest. We will review this rule for National contests in 2018 and 2019 after the Pan Pac contest. Rules of mixed choruses (i.e. 60/40) will still apply.
Our triennial judge training school will take place in Sydney from Sunday 24 to Tuesday 26 September. This school re-trains and certifies our existing judges as well as new candidates who have been in training programs for a year or more. Participation is by invitation only. Contact the Chairman of Judges for more information.
We continue to have great aspirations in the Music education portfolio. Last year we offered some scholarships to Harmony College, and these will continue. We will re-brand our college as Harmony University, and offer five (5) scholarships (worth $340 each) to members to attend. We are also offering five (5) Harmony University scholarships (worth $340 each) to school music teachers who undertake to use barbershop music as part of their school learning program. Application forms will soon be available on the BHA website.
A new initiative to be brought in this year will be the establishment of a National Education faculty (NEF), who will undertake annual visits to Clubs. These coaches will be trained to support clubs with coaching, management structure matters, etc., and will report back to Council on Club status so that further assistance can be planned if necessary. Our aim is that every Club will receive an annual visit at no cost except for the provision of local transport and billet accommodation. This is a similar program to that run by the Sweet Adelines.
The Deke Sharon workshops will undoubtedly be the highlight of the Youth Development program this year. Many of you will have heard of Deke. He is regarded as the leader of modern a cappella music, but he is also an honorary life member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. The workshops will run in Sydney on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 September. Entry and participation will be free to all Youth members as part of their Convention registration. BHA members >25 years old can attend and observe with a day ticket for $30, or a two day ticket for $50. It will be an event not to be missed!
We are also looking at other opportunities to promote barbershop singing in schools with attendance at the annual Australian Society of Music Educators conference in July planned. We are also planning to contact every school in the Sydney area to promote the Deke Sharon workshops and barbershop in general. Over the next year or two, we hope to roll that school contact out to every school in Australia. But we need help with this. If you have some time (you don’t have to be a Youth member) to help us compile lists of music teachers, please contact the VP Youth Development.
As far as Finances and Treasury goes, we are now back on our feet after our “near death” experience following the Perth Convention. We certainly hope that never happens again, and that Eastern states members will support a Convention in Perth from time to time, just as our Western state members continually support conventions in the Eastern states. We have approved significant budgets for music education, youth development, marketing, membership and contest and judging. At this stage the Council considers these programs are an efficient and beneficial use of members’ funds replacing the previous regional subsidies that were paid.
Running Conventions is a significant financial risk to BHA and members’ support is necessary if these are to continue to be viable.
So a very successful annual face to face meeting was held. If you have any questions please contact the Secretary who will direct the question to the appropriate Council member.