The following press release has been issued by the BBMA.
Following John Wirtz’s election as the British Bluegrass Music Association’s chairman at the AGM last April, the work has begun to raise the profile of the association and bring it back to the prominence it once had in the 1990s.
At the time the association was founded (in 1990), it was quite difficult for enthusiasts to find out what was going on. Plenty was happening but, apart from the efforts of Phill Morley, who founded British Bluegrass News, and later with assistance from Jan Jerrold and Richard F Thompson, news tended to get around by word of mouth.
The BBMA changed all that. It experienced a honeymoon period before that little beast called the internet came along. Suddenly communication was easy and the more enlightened festival and gig promoters got websites going. The impact of the BBMA was dramatically reduced. The word on the street was that we don’t need the BBMA now that there’s the Internet, and membership began to dwindle.
The internet is a great thing and the BBMA must embrace its power, but there are things the internet cannot do without an organisation behind it to ensure the information is useful accurate and well targeted. Good organisations are much more than suppliers of information: they can do many more things to support the activities of their members. In the past, the BBMA has provided grants and loans to allow bands to record CDs, it has sponsored young people to go to camps such as Sore Fingers Week, and it has underwritten gigs where promoters need financial support. However, the BBMA hasn’t been very good at telling people about these things and, with low membership levels, has had limited funds available to improve its record. In recent years, the majority of the income from members has been used to produce the association magazine.