Re: [Harp-L] SPAH Elections etc

On Dec 15, 2011, at 12:31 PM, Michelle LeFree wrote:

> I'm really on the fence here because I count the SPAH meetings I have had the good fortune to have attended amongst the best musical  experiences of my life. The friendships, the willingness of all to share, and the great opportunities to learn are all incredibly beautiful things about SPAH conventions. Yet I do sense that continuing on the current course will not bring the kind of meaningful change that would appeal more to the younger harpers as us "oldies" continue to age.

Michelle thank you for sharing your insights and feelings. To be clear, we will not make radical changes to the convention. At most we want to polish up SPAH's crown jewel so it sparkles all the brighter. Wholesale change  would be presumptuous and disrespectful to the organization and its fine people. Both Warren and I cherish the traditions and rich history. We intend with all of our hearts to preserve the core experience people have come to know and love.

Rest assured, if you vote for Warren and me, the convention will continue be fundamentally what it has always been. You and everyone else will go on for years and years in the manner to which you have become accustomed.

We believe the organization must revisit its vision to include a greater variety of players for several reasons. First and foremost our membership numbers have gone from flat for many years to steady decline. This is the marketplace sending us a message. If we continue on with the status quo, SPAH will dwindle and the very thing we hope to preserve will go the way of Buckeye.

Right now. The organization puts zero effort and zero dollars into membership marketing. Proponents of the status quo suggests we lack the resources to do anything but the convention. That's not true. What we lack is vision and intention.

Second, we are exclusionary by design, not by intention, because of our myopic focus on the convention and its high price tag.  The historic marketing model has been word-of-mouth among people in their 40s and 50s who can afford to attend the convention. 

What Warren and I propose to do is continue to welcome those folks as they reach the age when the convention is possible but we also want to create value for harmonica enthusiasts may never go to the convention or who will not go for many years.

If we can attract and keep new people eventually they'll reach the time in their lives when they can come to the convention. In the meanwhile, we'll have preserved and advanced the harmonica for other populations.

Obviously, the vision won't be realized right away. But we simply cannot survive if we continue doing nothing.

> I'm too old and decrepit

You may not remember but Jp has introduced us several times in the past. Old and decrepit must be self-depracating humor because that certainly was not my impression of you. :-)

> younger." When we think like retired Caucasian males (as someone suggested), that's the group to whom we will continue to appeal.

The most difficult part of implementing our vision will not be the actual work. That's easy. Intention, planning, execution, and staying on task over a period of time will yield results. 

The hardest part will be convincing the current membership that the changes we propose, that is, the growth of our membership by adding more value, are necessary for the long term health of the organization and they will NOT substantively affect their experiences at the convention.

We owe it to our founders and the people who have who have invested, in many cases, an entire lifetime to the organization to make sure SPAH exists for future generations.  No business model no matter how good it was originally and how well intentioned the preservationists are, works forever.

Just as in nature, a failure to adapt is a failure to thrive in the future.


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