IBMA Board Meeting Highlights - September 2011

The IBMA Board met on September 25 and 26 in Nashville to consider a variety of business matters and proposals and to hear several key committee reports. Following are highlights.
IBMA Awards
The board adopted a proposal offered by the Songwriter Committee and endorsed by the Awards Eligibility & Criteria Committee to inaugurate a new “Songwriter of the Year” award.  Members of the board indicated a desire to further consider the criteria and selection process adopted but a deadline was set for any suggested changes and the award will be given for the first time in 2012.  The board also amended policy related to the number of complimentary trophies extended to awards recipients in designated categories where non-related entities are honored.
Media Relations
IBMA annually enlists a publicist to coordinate media relations for World of Bluegrass and to use the events to leverage more public exposure for the music in general.  Judy McDonough with JEMMedia served in that capacity this year and reported great response to the IBMA Awards Nominees press conference in August in addition to radio broadcast and the first-ever webcast of the event.  This produced significant interest in the actual IBMA Awards Show and other World of Bluegrass events.  IBMA has also been able to leverage the 100th anniversary of Bill Monroe’s birth into media interest in print, broadcast and online stories.  An array of media reps were planning on covering bluegrass in addition to IBMA events as a result of these efforts.
World of Bluegrass Future Host Cities
IBMA’s most significant events are contracted to be hosted in Nashville again in 2012 and the board adopted a plan to pursue proposals for 2013 and beyond.  A task force will be embodied to outline basic objectives for the events, prepare a request for proposals to be shared with prospective hosts and will engage with those cities and properties to prepare recommendations to the board for consideration.  The board noted that recent surveys of members, past members, event attendees and others will provide valuable information to the process.  Recommendations and information will be shared with the board at their spring 2012 meetings.
Surveys
The board has made extra efforts in 2011 to encourage input from members, former members, non-members and event attendees to participate in two major survey initiatives.  In winter, an online survey focused on World of Bluegrass week while the summer brought a second survey on membership and services.  The board considered those surveys as they related to various topics and approved the release of a report to the membership.  The data will continue to be important to decisions on the horizon and additional surveys are planned.  Members are also invited to use additional means beyond formal surveys to share comments and suggestions.
Legislative Awareness & Education
This committee reported that several legislative and legal proposals are under review, including monitoring the status of the Performing Rights Act, Community Radio Bill, anti-piracy proposals and the airline carry-on instrument legislation.  The committee works throughout the year to keep track of other legislative developments which may impact bluegrass.
Membership
IBMA’s active membership was reported at 2,226 members as of late-August representing a decline of 6.2% from the prior year.  Of total memberships, 81% are music industry professionals and 19% are Grass Roots Club members.  The board received a report on expanding the scope of IBMA membership and programs to foster semi-professional involvement which was referred to the membership committee.
Board Governance
New policies were adopted that add expectations to board members to host annual constituency meetings, subscribe to the online membership forum (IBMA-L) and to more uniformly request that all committees provide the board an annual report.  The board is also interested in meeting more frequently and endorsed the concept of adopting a statement of ethical principles and code of conduct, a more broadly defined dispute resolution process, changes in IBMA logo use policy, and updates to organizational bylaws.
Bluegrass Nation & Web Developments
The board received information on the launch of the newly integrated IBMA and World of Bluegrass websites this summer and that the “Bluegrass Nation” portion of the project was delayed with issues involving the selected web development company.  The committee working on it reported efforts to select a new development partner with expectations to launch in early 2012.  “Bluegrass Nation” will incorporate internet based web, email and social networking capabilities and an array of platforms and services to foster community building among various aspects of the bluegrass world including fans, artists as well as various facets of the music industry. 
Financial Update
The board received updated management reports and comparative drafts of year-to-date to prior year financial projections as well as advance registration projections for all World of Bluegrass (WOB) events.  With significant changes planned for WOB events and reduced registration fees, the board was interested in how they were being received and the impact on attendance.  Paid attendee registrations were down slightly compared to 2010 heading into the week while exhibit space, hotel room pickup and sponsorship investment were up.  Staff noted that on-site registration was a significant portion of final attendance and a key would be how many attendees opted for the benefits of paid registration versus simply taking advantage of free access to the common areas under new policies.  WOB events account for 75% of IBMA’s gross revenues, so the board was anxious to get final reports as soon after the events as practical.  (A summary of attendance is published elsewhere in this issue.)  The board also approved funding for an independent audit of IBMA’s finances.
Bluegrass Trust Fund & Foundation for Bluegrass
The Trust Fund board reported $37,500.00 in emergency assistance granted in the first eight months of 2011.  Their financial report indicated a balance for future needs of $211,540.02 as of August 15, 2011.   Doyle Lawson and Wayne Rice were appointed to new three year terms (through Oct 2014) on the Trust board.  The Foundation for Bluegrass gave a financial update and indicated $20,000 in grants for deserving public projects were made this past winter and another $10,000 in grants was under consideration.
Board Leadership & Recognition
Ronnie McCoury was honored by the board as his term as an “at-large” representative ended while Donica Christenson, who was elected to fill the vacancy this summer, was welcomed to the board.  Cindy Baucom, Craig Havighurst and Carl Jackson were also congratulated on their re-election by members.   The following were elected to leadership posts for a one year term:
Stan Zdonik, President/Board Chair
Jon Weisberger, Vice Chair
Ron Cox, Treasurer
Dan Keen, Secretary
Executive Committee:  Stan Zdonik, Jon Weisberger, Carl Jackson, Craig Havighurst, Dwight Worden
Carl Jackson was also appointed to be talent coordinator and producer for Fan Fest 2012.
NEXT MEETING AND MORE INFO
Members interested in additional details of this past meeting or with suggestions or ideas for future consideration are encouraged to contact their board representatives directly or IBMA (info@ibma.org or 1-888-438-4262) for more information. Member input is welcome on any topic of business and additional information on IBMA and its programs is available at www.ibma.org.  The board will meet again no later than the spring with the exact dates and place to be determined.  Board members serve without compensation and bear their own expenses for attending meetings and other IBMA functions.