Summer is in full swing and there are lots of opportunities for the younger generation to get together at festivals, music camps, campouts, concerts (venue and house). I notice that many of the young pickers I know expand musically during festival season when they have an opportunity to play with others their own age. Relationships flower and new young fans are created. Many of these same young people do not have the opportunity to get together during the fall through spring months and wonder what would happen if we could provide opportunities year round for them to get together?
I also have been thinking about our annual election coming up soon and know that I will not be running again for election to the Board and also know about two others who are not running. I am wondering if there are any others out there who will take on the challenge of Board Membership and the responsibility for guiding our Association into the future. Will there be new energy and new ideas to propel the Association forward into the future?
I watch our membership drop month by month. Are people not renewing because of increasing age? Are people not renewing because of economic hardship? Are people dissatisfied with the direction of the Association? There is lots of discussion on our message board and on the various bluegrass list-serves about the future of “bluegrass” or “Bluegrass.” There are discussions about a “bigger tent” with the inclusion of the string music being played by a younger demographic. I wonder what our own membership is thinking?
The future of the Association is at an interesting junction. Those who created the Association and have been its biggest fans and supporters and, yes, Board Members and volunteers are 36 years older now. We are not replacing our loyal supporters at the same rate they are backing out of the Association and their active life. The Association is going to change. The music will evolve. We need to think seriously about what that means and how we are going to move toward that future. We need to look toward our youngest members and see how to support them and keep them in the community we have so lovingly created.