Re: The reports of our death ...
- --- In email@example.com, Edward Headley <ewheadley@...> wrote:
> .. the brutal, tangible facts are that we ARE in TROUBLEDepends on how you define "crisis", I suppose.
> for various sundry reasons. "Barbershop" is in a crisis and
> that's an undeniable fact that can no longer be ignored.
Yes, I am concerned that the BHS/SPEBSQSA is half the size that it was at its peak. Yes, I am painfully aware that recruiting (an inherently difficult task) is not keeping up with attrition, both due to people pursuing other interests, and (how do I say this delicately?) issues associated with members' health and aging.
For example, I took an extended leave of absence to pursue activities I could more easily share with my two wonderful girls. You'll hear no judgment from me based on how you set your priorities!
But I have always been a "glass half full" kind of guy. In our current world, quite different from the world in which my 14-year-old former self joined, I think it's pretty cool that we have nearly 25,000 of us still sharing this great hobby.
Can we get back up to 45,000 or beyond? Maybe. Will we shrink to 20,000 or less before stabilizing? Possibly. But are we on the brink of collapse? To that, I say a hearty "NO!"
> Let's call a spade a 'spade' here. Our biggest crumblingNo argument here. Yes, recruiting is hard. I've only got four "man-of-note" awards, which amounts to one per decade. Complacency and inertia are powerful enemies. And yes, retention is a huge challenge, especially in the young adult age range where other interests and responsibilities abound.
> foundation cornerstone is that of RECRUITING new members
> and RETENTION of existing members.
But which would you rather do -- be miserable worrying about our failings, or be filled with joy that you can still share the things that made you love this hobby with a bunch of other great guys?
I maintain that the second approach is most likely to get others to want to be a part of what we do. A guest who sees a group of men having a great time, energized by what they're doing, and leaving with huge smiles on their faces is far more likely to want to be a part of it -- especially if we make sure he sees that he *can* be a part of it.
It's up to each of us -- the local leadership and individual members -- to *love what we're doing*, to *get excited that we're doing it*, to *give what we can to it*, and to show our friends, neighbors, and family that *they can do it too*.
Maybe we'll start growing again, or maybe we'll simply shrink slower. But at least we'll be having a great time while doing it.
- Dave "I'm not in this to be miserable" Garstang
- --- David Updegraff <drupdegraff@...> wrote:
> I only have two men of note awards after 36 years of membership, and, as other men have said, it is not without trying!Ok, out of lurk mode and back into the fray. You've not heard from me in months. Been nice huh?
My man of note award level is about the same as David's with almost identical years of membership. I've mentioned my hobby where ever I go. People know I have sung in The Virginians and The Alex Harmonizers for 37 years and in quartets almost every day of that entire time. I have mentioned here on the Harmonet more than once that I have sung in more than 75 Div, Dist and (Sr) INT quartet contests not to mention the countless chapter/novice contests. I've sung in registered competitive quartets all this time, sometimes more than one in the same contest.
I remember the days (Bill Byrd) when Norfolk VA (and Suffolk after that) was a "large" chorus of 65-80 men and competing head to head with Richmond for top honors in SoDiv of M-AD. OMG Treasure Chest enjoyed so much singing on your shows. Those were the days before Alexandria and Manhattan became the powerhouses of M-AD. Now Richmond stages less than 50 for most contests and Norfolk even fewer. I remember the days (David) when Diz was directing your chorus and you experienced your growth. Montgomery Co MD and Fairfax were also giving us serious competition for scores and numbers on stage during that time too. I remember fondly the days when Gary Parker directed the Virginians in the 1990s and helped us earn our first ever trip to INT in KC in 50 years as a chapter (as it turns out, the only trip to INT ever for us).
The simple truth is people are not as social as we once were. In the era of our heyday as a barbershop society men were more into socializing both individually and in the types of groups we offer as chapters. The Rotary, the Ruritan, the Lions, the Moose, the Elks, the other social organizations suffer today the same issues with membership that we experience.
I have my doubts that the BHS will ever be 30,000 member again and certainly never 35,000 or 38,000. Still, I will keep spreading the word and hoping I can convince a friend, colleague or acquaintance that he might find as much enjoyment in the hobby as I have if he'd give it a try.
Maybe someday I'll earn another number for my Man-Of-Note award. Unfortunately, I hardly ever dress up any more either, yet another change in the times, so don't have a lapel to show off my pin.
BobCaldwell @ email . com
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "SlickerLeadQ" <BobCaldwell@...> wrote:
> I have my doubts that the BHS will ever be 30,000 member
> again and certainly never 35,000 or 38,000. Still, I will keep
> spreading the word and hoping I can convince a friend, colleague
> or acquaintance that he might find as much enjoyment in the
> hobby as I have if he'd give it a try.
I think there's wisdom here. Times do change, and we can't say what the "right" number is for the BHS in the early 21st century. It's great that people care enough to be concerned, and are exploring ways to try to reverse that decline, as am I. (I think I owe an apology to some folks who thought I was putting them down for their concern --that was not my intent)
Maybe we're just over 20,000 members because we're not doing the right things, not reaching the right people in the right way to get them to try us, and not doing the right things to keep them coming back. And maybe we're just over 20,000 members because that's the best we can hope for in today's world. Probably it's some combination of the two.
But my biggest concern is that we don't succumb to despair -- especially since, hey, we do have over 20,000 members, and that's pretty great!
So let's keep trying ways, new and old, to get people to check us out, to get them to keep coming back once they do, and to get back some of the ones who have given up on us. And let's keep sharing what works for us. (And PLEEEEASE can we stop assuming that there's only one "right" way to do Barbershop, and that there's something wrong with people who enjoy different aspects of our hobby?)
But I hope we can also keep in mind that what we have, right now, today, is pretty awesome.
- I don't know what today's Int'l. dues amount is since I'm a 67+ year Life Member.
I pay local Chapter dues only. But let me ask a very cogent question:
If our total membership drops below - say 15K - at what point must that dues figure
need to be raised? How far? How many of our current Chapters will be able to stay
with the program? What services now offered will be curtailed or dropped? How many
of the current staff members will be required to carry on 'Business As Usual?'
These questions, and possible actions are probably being pondered now in Nashville.
Or should be?
Great Falls, MT
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Dick, it depends on your political orientation.
If you're a Democrat, you'll raise dues.
If you're a Republican, you'll reduce BHS expenses.
If you're in Congress, you'll do nothing!
- --- In email@example.com, "Dick Lambert" <rlambert1@...> wrote:
>I know Dick. He's only one of those things.
> Dick, it depends on your political orientation.
> If you're a Democrat, you'll raise dues.
> If you're a Republican, you'll reduce BHS expenses.
> If you're in Congress, you'll do nothing!
The latter, alphabetically, so he'd be reducing the expenses.
- A cogent question indeed, and well worth asking. As a merely 41-year member, I joined a Society already well above that number. Do you recall how many members we had when you joined, Dick? Since we've been there before, do you or any of our long-time members remember what the dues were (preferably in inflation-adjusted dollars) when we passed through that number on the way up, and what sorts of services were provided by International and the Districts, compared to now? Obviously, we were able to collect enough revenue and provide enough services back then, since we were, in fact, growing.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Dick Johnson <chordhuskerdick@...> wrote:
> I don't know what today's Int'l. dues amount is since I'm a 67+ year Life Member.
> I pay local Chapter dues only. But let me ask a very cogent question:
> If our total membership drops below - say 15K - at what point must that dues figure
> need to be raised? How far? How many of our current Chapters will be able to stay
> with the program? What services now offered will be curtailed or dropped? How many
> of the current staff members will be required to carry on 'Business As Usual?'
> These questions, and possible actions are probably being pondered now in Nashville.
> Or should be?
> Dick Johnson
> Great Falls, MT
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]