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BHS / Harmony Foundation Mediation Talks Stall; Court Guidance Expected

Mediation talks stall; preliminary injunction is likely next step

Attorneys for the Barbershop Harmony Society today will file a statement in U.S. District Court on the upcoming preliminary injunction regarding the lawsuit that seeks to affirm a close relationship between BHS and Harmony Foundation International.

The filing follows a March 5 evidentiary hearing and extensive mediation efforts since then. Today’s action complies with a court-designated deadline.

“We spent 11 tough weeks negotiating a joint resolution,” said John Donehower, president of the Society Board of Directors. “Common ground was found on multiple topics, and BHS made generous concessions for the sake of moving forward together. Unfortunately, talks have stalled and we can go no further without seeking the court's opinion on several fundamental issues.”

Joe Berger, Society governance and bylaws chair and lead negotiating team member, said he is disappointed in the length of time it took to advance negotiations and in the continuing lack of cohesion and commitment to a shared vision and mission.

“It is highly regrettable that we again are at an impasse,” Berger said. “We anticipate the preliminary injunction from (Wisconsin District) Judge William Conley will provide critical direction. We remain committed to aligning with his input and reaching a settlement that is in the long-term best interests of both organizations and the barbershop community as a whole.”

In keeping with Conley’s direction on March 5, Donehower said the board will not discuss further details at this time.

Society staff remain focused on supporting BHS districts, chapters and quartets as they return to in-person singing.

“Our top priority at Harmony Hall is to support BHS members through proactive communication and engagement with singing community leaders,” BHS CEO Marty Monson said.

“All of us have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the escalating excitement about barbershop and bring people together through the unifying power of singing,” he said. “We will help BHS singing communities thrive again, with tools and resources needed at the local level and supported by BHS districts to bring more singers and fans into barbershop.”