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Performance Category Update

Changes to Performance Category Judging Parameters Announced

AMENDMENT OF PERFORMANCE CATEGORY ASSESSMENT OF TASTE ISSUES

In order to provide better clarity and visibility to our competitors and audience members, the Performance Category is amending their treatment of poor taste issues. Songs, lyrics, and actions not in good taste will now result in a penalty, up to and including forfeiture by the Performance Judge(s).

Over the past few years, the Performance Category judges have been assessing taste issues in terms of the quality of the performance; in other words, holistically. The following video will explain the reasoning behind the change back to a penalty for this important issue:

Read the video transcript.

This amendment to the Contest and Judging rules allows for the following:

  • Performance Category leadership will be able to provide improved education and guidelines for judges to drive consistency in applying this rule
  • Competitors and audience members will have better visibility (on scoresheets) to know that issues of poor taste have been addressed by the Performance Judge(s)

No dramatic changes in scoring by re-instituting the penalty for poor taste are expected. Judges have been doing their best over the last few years assessing these issues holistically, and the overall Performance scores have appropriately reflected what has been presented to them by the performers. Performance judges will continue to objectively take in all aspects of a performance to determine if they need to take action here, and will give the performer the benefit of the doubt if it’s unclear whether a performance in poor taste has occurred.

Questions can be directed to Mark Kettner, Performance Category Specialist, at mrkettner@comcast.net.

RULE LANGUAGE CHANGES

The change to this rule has resulted in the following rules changes:

ARTICLE IX: SONGS AND ARRANGEMENTS

A. Songs

3. Performance Category Elements

b. Good Taste: Songs or actions by a contestant that are not in good taste will result in penalties up to and including forfeiture by the Performance judge(s). (See Position Paper III: Taste in Chapter 9 of the Contest and Judging Handbook for details.)

ARTICLE XI: STAGING

A. Restrictions

2. Bad Taste

Barbershop performances should not contain vulgar, suggestive or otherwise distasteful actions or lyrics. In addition to adjudication with penalties and potential forfeiture by the Performance judge(s), the performance may be stopped by the Contest Administrator per Article XIV.A.3. In consultation with the Performance judge(s), the Contest Administrator will determine if the performance may be rescheduled or adjudicated up to the point of stoppage.

POSITION PAPER III: TASTE

Performances containing bad taste, or which could be considered offensive, are not common in Barbershop contests. Performers are usually aware of the need to have positive audience engagement. The test of whether a performance is distasteful or offensive is whether, in whole or in part, it would be offensive to today’s audiences or society in general.

The Performance judge will assess whether the performance’s impact offends contemporary society’s standards of cultural currency and sensitivity. These rare performances may range from inadvertent offense to a complete disregard for the potential impact on the audience. Judicial discretion in analyzing these situations is paramount, and judges draw on their own life experience as well as their judicial education and training.

Performances that are considered in poor taste will be subject to penalty up to and including forfeiture by the Performance judge(s). In cases where there is not clear intent to be distasteful the judge may afford the benefit of the doubt to the performer. If a performance raises questions or could meet the above criteria, the Performance panel will conference to discuss a possible action.

Video Transcript

00:02: Hello, I'm Dusty Schleier, a Performance judge. And on behalf of Mark Kettner, our Category Specialist, and all of the Performance judges, I'd like to talk to you today about an amendment to our contest rules that will be effective this spring as it pertains to performances containing elements of poor taste.

00:20: If you've been to any of our barbershop contest weekends, you've seen many quartet and chorus performances, and they are very rarely done in poor taste. As Barbershoppers, we have always done well to consider our audiences, their backgrounds, and what they believe to be currently considered in good taste: Puppies, Mother, Ireland...

00:47: But every once in a while, the performance judges are faced with an instance of poor taste in our task to score the performance appropriately to reflect the effect of that choice. A rule amendment brings back the use of a penalty, up to and including forfeiture, for songs and actions that are not in good taste. You may be thinking, "Aren't poor taste issues being penalized by judges right now?" Well, they used to be. Up until 2015, the then-Presentation judges were using penalties for this issue. In 2015, the category elected to move away from a penalty and adjudicate taste issues in terms of the overall quality of the performance, or in other words, holistically. Any poor taste issues were factored in with the other artistic and technical elements to generate an overall score.

01:38: So, I'd like to go over some of the reasons for re-instituting the use of the penalty, and these are for the benefit of our contest performance judges, our competitors, and audience members. First, consistency is very important to our responsibilities as judges. We take seriously our ability to assess performances and score them accurately within the bounds of our category description. The performance category leadership continuously looks for opportunities to provide this consistency, and has been working to develop guidelines and tools to help our judges. The development of these guidelines has proven to be much easier to accomplish, and provide to the performance judges when considering penalties or reductions, rather than holistic assessments.

02:25: The next reason is specifically for our competitors and audience members. Holistic treatment of taste issues does not get specifically indicated on any score sheets; you'll still see the overall score which could, of course, be lower due to the instance of a taste issue. However, it may not be totally clear to those reading the score sheet if poor taste was addressed. With the implementation of this new rule, a penalty of five points or greater will show up on the score sheet, thus providing clarity to competitors and to the audience that the performance panel has recognized the taste issue and has applied a penalty appropriately.

03:04: Remember, this will be similar treatment to how primarily religious or patriotic songs are indicated on the scoresheet. We're not going to address those subjects in this video. We don't believe we will see a dramatic change in scoring by re-instituting the penalty for poor taste. Our judges have been doing their best over the last few years assessing these issues holistically, and we believe the overall performance scores have appropriately reflected what has been presented to them by the performers.

03:32: The use of a penalty for future poor taste issues will provide better visibility to our competitors and, of course, to the audience members. Performance judges will continue to objectively take in all aspects of a performance to determine if they need to take action here, and will give the performer the benefit of the doubt if it's unclear whether a performance in poor taste has occurred.

03:54: If you have any questions at all about this rule change, please feel free to reach out to our Category Specialist, Mark Kettner, at the email provided on the screen (mrkettner@comcast.net). Thanks for your time and enjoy the spring convention season.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai