The International Board of Directors held its board meetings prior to the contests in Sandusky, Ohio. Highlights of the meeting include: the elimination of the Silver Division Contest, changes to the International Chorus Contest, adjustments to various fees, a review of traditional Harmony practices with an eye toward sensitivity and inclusion, and a new initiative to exchange Harmony Queen performances with the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers at our respective international conventions.

International Chorus Contest: With the elimination of the Silver Division Contest, we have set a target number of 27 contestants for the International Chorus Contest, with invitations if needed to reach this target number. The qualifying score for the International Chorus Contest will remain at 792 (an average of 66). If the number of qualifying choruses who indicate their intention to compete is fewer than 27, the ICJ Chairman will invite choruses, in descending order of Area qualification score, to make up that number. Invited choruses must achieve a minimum Area qualifying score no lower than 768 (64 average) to be eligible for invitation.

International Chorus Trophy: Jeanne O’Connor has directed the Village Vocal Chords to a record-setting 18 gold medals. Earlier this year, the VVC has announced Jeanne’s retirement after the 2019 IC&C. To honor Jeanne’s extraordinary accomplishments, the International Board of Directors is excited to announce that the current championship chorus trophy will be retired following IC&C 2019 and a new
trophy, “The Jeanne O’Connor Championship Chorus Award,” will be presented to the championship chorus commencing with IC&C 2020.

Review of Fees: The board continues to remain focused on keeping dues and other fees as low as possible for our members while ensuring we cover corporate expenses, enhance the services provided, and achieve future goals. Significant time goes into processing registrations, contest entries, late renewals, etc., and it has been quite some time since we’ve increased these fees. Also, in comparing some of Harmony, Inc. fees with other barbershop organizations, they are extraordinarily low.
After our review, the following fees will be adjusted as follows in 2020:
Annual quartet registration – $20
Quartet contest entry for both AC&C and IC&C – $40
Chorus contest entry for both AC&C and IC&C – $65
Late membership renewal fee – $10

The pricing for big screen ads for IC&C has been adjusted and simplified. Moving forward there will be two categories:
Ads by Harmony member, including member-owned business(es) – $35
All other ads – $100

Membership Management Platform: We are researching several membership management platforms and hope to have a platform selected and in place soon. We plan to make it easier and more efficient for both Harmony, Inc. and our members to update member information, manage dues, etc.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Topics: The Equality & Diversity Committee (EDC) has done a great job raising awareness and encouraging dialogue about diversity and inclusion. As a result, members are feeling more comfortable sharing their feelings about topics that concern them.
– The committee has received concerns that Harmony Grace is a Christian song and, as such, not all members are comfortable singing it. Some members think Harmony Grace does not represent members who are non-religious or of other faiths; therefore, it does
not support the direction of Harmony, Inc. towards being inclusive. The board had a lengthy and thoughtful discussion about Harmony Grace. It was decided that we will explore options for a song that is secular and inclusive in scope. More information will be forthcoming as we explore options.
– The EDC has prepared an Area and Chapter Handbook that was presented to the IBOD. The handbook promotes and celebrates equality and diversity in our organization. Following discussion, it was decided that the Area Directors will share the handbook with their councils and chapter leaders and, ultimately, with the membership.
– Our Associate members will soon be receiving a survey from the EDC. This survey will be like the survey sent to chapter members earlier this year. Feedback from our Associate members will give us a baseline as we move forward with education and awareness of the issues about diversity and inclusion.
– Songs from the era of minstrel shows evoke racial and ethnic stereotypes that some consider offensive, today. These types of songs have no place in an organization that seeks to be truly inclusive. In reviewing the songs that are part of the Here’s Harmony Series in the members-only site, it was determined that four songs will be removed from the series since they evoke these racial stereotypes; Back in Dixie Again, Dixie Boy, Steamin’ Down the River, Welcome Back to Dixieland. The board will also confer with the Barbershop Harmony Society to make sure that an effort is made to identify and remove songs with insensitive, offensive lyrics.

Corporate Bylaws: We have been reviewing our corporate bylaws to simplify and bring them up to contemporary standards. The bylaws committee presented a draft of the updated bylaws, which will be shared with Quantum Governance as part of the review of our governance structure. Their findings will be provided to the IBOD at the mid-year meeting. When the updated bylaws are finalized, they will be sent to the entire membership for a vote later this year.

Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers: For many years, Harmony has enjoyed a close relationship with the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers. We are excited to share that we are planning an exchange of performers at our respective international conventions, beginning with a LABBS quartet attending our 2020 IC&C. We hope to send a past Harmony Queens quartet to LABBS in 2021. This exchange will be another way to strengthen our bond with LABBS.

Fund-Raising Task Force: A fund-raising task force was established by the International President just before IC&C to find a way to raise $5,000 at IC&C so that Harmony could receive a matching gift of $5,000 offered by an anonymous donor. The task force’s efforts resulted in donations totaling over $7,000 at IC&C. With the matching gift, the total donated to Harmony is over $12,000 that will be used for Youth
and Harmony. Stronger. initiatives.
Fund raising will allow Harmony to take advantage of opportunities that are already available to us, but which cannot be executed due to limited funds. The Fund-Raising Task Force will remain in place for 2020 to work on creating additional fund-raising
initiatives to support our strategic goals.

The complete version of the annual meeting minutes can be found here.

Submitted by Donna McKay
International President
[email protected]