A message to our Barbershop community
Over the last 48 hours, the pace of information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact in North America has escalated rapidly. BHS staff has been conducting daily meetings with representatives from district leadership and the Society Contest and Judging Committee over the past week to gather information and make recommendations about how best to manage the BHS response and decisions about our upcoming local and BHS events.
After much careful consideration, discussions with the Society Board of Directors, and ongoing information gathering, and in order to protect the safety of our members, committed volunteers, and attendees, we strongly recommend that all spring chapter shows, district events, and International prelim contests be postponed or cancelled immediately.
This is a decision we do not make lightly. We recognize the important role that these events play in the lives of our members. But barbershop is a voluntary activity and is not worth jeopardizing the health and well-being of our communities, both large and small.
We want to thank all of the volunteer leaders serving our districts and chapters - this has been an incredibly stressful week and we all appreciate the time and energy you have devoted to managing these decisions and the impact they have on members and the greater BHS community at-large.
You may be wondering why BHS has not announced the cancellation of all events directly. Our governance structure is designed to give our districts and chapters control over how they conduct their own events, shows, rehearsals, chapter meetings and contests, so the decision to cancel also rests primarily with their leadership and events teams. BHS staff has been working closely with district leaders all week long to support their decision making and provide guidance as needed. In extreme circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, BHS leadership is willing to provide more specific direction but our district leaders have been proactive and committed to keeping our barbershop community safe.
International Quartet Prelims for 2020
The District events obviously have an impact on International qualification for the 2020 International Convention in Los Angeles. Though we are still assessing the likelihood of hosting an in-person International Convention, we will provide details next week about alternate plans for qualification for all quartets who wish to participate.
Stay Healthy, Stay Connected
Thank you for your care and concern for each other and our community. We will be sharing more updates and information as things develop. We encourage you to stay healthy, observe the local recommendations around gathering and social distancing for your community, and connect with your fellow barbershoppers virtually, online, or by phone. We can still keep singing... even if we’re not able to gather in the usual ways.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Should we cancel our chapter shows or other performances?
This blog post - What to Do When Your Chorus Concert Gets Cancelled - is an excellent resource for things to consider and steps to take. If you need support with venues or communications, please reach out to us for assistance.
Will refunds be given for district events?
The process for refunds will vary by district. Please look for a communication from your district events team with the correct steps to take.
What about our chorus or quartet awards and contests?
Each district determines its own district-level awards and contests held in the spring. It is up to the district to make decisions about postponing these awards or contests or moving them to another local event during the year.
How can my quartet qualify for International?
The Society Contest and Judging Committee has been working on a contingency plan for quartets that will utilize video submissions. We already use video qualifying for other BHS contests, so there is a tested and familiar process in place. Details will be released to registered competitors next week.
Will my flight for District events be refunded?
Contact your airline directly to manage any ticket cancellations. This is something they are dealing with for many customers right now, so they likely have a policy and process in place.
Will my hotel for District events be refunded?
District events teams are working with hotels to help with this process. Unless you have received specific instructions from your district leaders, contact your hotel directly to manage your reservation. If you have difficulty, your local events team may be able to provide guidance.
Is BHS cancelling the 2020 International Convention or Harmony University events scheduled for July?
Not at this time. We are communicating with our venues and assessing the likelihood and logistics of both events - more information will be shared soon as we continue to monitor the situation.