Now is the very best time to be a Barbershopper
A bold statement? You bet. The Society is better positioned today for making a change in the world than we have been for years. Consider:
- Barbershop is getting meaningful media coverage (NBC’s Today Show, Fox and Friends, Redeye with Tom Shillue, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, local stations, etc.) and YouTube (almost 4 million views in 2015). We’re no longer an undiscovered treasure; people know more about us and are curious. Are YOU ready to see them come in the door and RETAIN them?
- People are crazy about a cappella singing right now, with smash hit TV shows (The Sing-Off), movies (Pitch Perfect), and platinum-selling albums (Pentatonix) bringing attention to vocal music. Awareness and interest are at an all-time high!
- Youth and educator interest is surging with increased turnout for camps, workshops, our youth quartet and chorus programs, and there are more educators than ever before at Harmony University.
- The Barbershop Harmony Society is financially stable, with strong cash reserves, an expanding professional staff, its largest expenditure in history for programming, yet member dues rates will be constant for the third straight year.
Are you Ready? None of these successes is meaningful unless your chapter is thriving
As the old saying goes, “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose your job.” Similarly, a growing Society is only growing if your chapter is growing, thriving, experiencing the joy every time you get together to rehearse, perform, and serve your community.
Continuing the work of the 2011 Chapter Visitation Project, we’ve been listening pretty intensely during 2015, through focus groups at conventions, chapter leadership surveys, face-to-face meetings at district conventions, and with an ever-growing social media presence.
Our members are telling us that the Barbershop Harmony Society is heading in the right direction as a whole. At the same time, we’re hearing loud and clear that chapters -- especially small, isolated, or aging chapters -- need more resources scaled to their capabilities. How can we help them develop musical leaders or recruit more leaders locally? How can chapters create better local awareness, get in front of audiences, find more people to become singers, fans, and fellow travellers?
2016 is a year of continued investments
We are specifically organizing 2016 with staffing and programming that address chapter needs. The Healthy Chapter Initiative, underwritten by a major grant from Harmony Foundation International, will transform the ways we define and deliver chapter leadership education. We've identified over 20 ways in which to participate and be a Barbershopper. The chapter activity is the most common way people experience the Society. The Society and its Districts are very focused on improving the chapters in the field who are ready and prepared to become healthier.
The big picture: our strategic direction is externally aimed
Even as we tend to our own specific needs, we are working to position our Society as a major arts organization that has a $30 million annual impact when all of our business units are considered. When building and planning all of our activities, BHS will build upon the following strategic pillars. Through the medium of barbershop harmony, we
- Maintain & expand supportive services for a global community of artists;
- Elevate artistic and leadership skills through education and best practices;
- Establish lifelong singing as a core community asset;
- Scale our impact by growing social enterprise, individual philanthropy, and institutional philanthropy.
This is more than just a highfalutin’ way of saying, “We sing and teach barbershop. Period.” Barbershoppers have always been more than just hobbyists. From the earliest days, our Code of Ethics has declared “The Society aspires to preserve for its members and for all future generations of prospective members the sacred right of men to seek haven from the burden of their daily cares through indulgence in old-fashioned vocal quartet harmony.”
We do this for the joy that comes from singing. For the joy that comes from genuine friendships. For the joy that comes from joining together. For the joy that comes from making a difference in people’s lives. And all of these joys are worth preserving and encouraging for future generations.
Together, we are making the music that’s making a difference. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many. I wish you a happy, safe, and wonderful holiday.
Yours in Harmony,