The Contest Expansion Proposal is a popular discussion item this month -- in official leadership meetings, with BHS Board and staff, among attendees at fall conventions, in rehearsal rooms all over the Society, and in spirited debate online. This week, we'll be featuring a few different perspectives, starting with one that goes beyond the proposal as currently presented.
Guest Contributor Tim Waurick writes:
When the BHS launched the "Everyone In Harmony" strategic vision, I had a much broader vision for what the BHS was becoming. I envisioned a true International Convention with all sorts of contests and events happening concurrently. A place where you could attend a contest, all-male quartet/chorus contests, all-female quartet/chorus contests, an “Open Contest" contest for mixed groups and those who are not defined by gender, extended champ showcases, and so many other possibilities. I’ve felt like the BHS has seemingly been on this path for the last few years. I thought we were headed in a broader direction that would make the International Convention an even bigger, more "must attend" event than we could have ever imagined. An event where truly everyone can experience music in the way they want. I fear we may be thinking too small in our approach to expanding the International Contest.
Based on social media reactions, the survey options are too polarizing. We need something in the middle that has something for everyone, yet has a true vision for the future success of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Men thrive on competition with other men. This builds fraternity and camaraderie, which should not be diminished or labeled as discriminatory. We also need to be inclusive of all people. Those who are non-binary should not have to check a box to compete in a men’s or women’s contest.
It is for this reason that I am proposing a different approach than any of the listed survey options. I'd start with 3 contests - an all male, all female, and an "Open Contest.” We shouldn't call it mixed. This is too limiting. The open contest is for anyone of any gender - no need to check a box.
At the moment, the current pragmatic decision may overshadow the long term vision, but the BHS needs to begin the process of expanding the International Convention as soon as possible. We should be looking at smaller venues to hold more events as the week continues toward the finals, which should truly be the showcase event - held in a larger hall.
I realize that people may view this as an overwhelming goal, but if the BHS truly wants to expand and allow people the option to "barbershop the way they want to" (as Marty Monson has repeatedly said), then we need to shoot for the sky. I fear that one International Contest is more of the same and limits the scope of the vision.
I envision the BHS becoming THE HUB for all things A Cappella. Truly "Everyone In Harmony"... NOT separate but equal - Just literally something for everyone. The possibilities are endless. I realize this will take time and resources, but if we truly want more people singing, I encourage a broader vision. Everyone In Harmony shouldn't be about homogenizing everything, it should be about celebrating and embracing each other.“
-Tim Waurick, Tenor - Vocal Spectrum, 2006 International Quartet Champion & Learning Track Producer
NEXT UP: We’ll share more opinions on the current Contest Expansion Proposal from some passionate and well-known members.