From Spider to Starfish: Dissolution of the North American World Music Coalition Calls for Grassroots Decentralized Organizing
From the Board of the North American World Music Coalition:
Dear members of the North American World Music community,
At this year's WOMEX, the Board of the North American World Music Coalition met and unanimously voted to formally dissolve the organization as an independent 501 (C) 3 not-for profit. This is a decision that was the result of a multi-year process of critical self-examination, numerous meeting, conference calls and emails, and was not a decision that taken lightly.
For those of you who were unable to attend the North American Networking meeting at WOMEX, here is a summary of the major points discussed.
The North American World Music Coalition has been coalescing for nearly a decade, growing out of informal meetings and then formalizing with the establishment of a 501(C)3 organization. The goal of the NAWMC was twofold:
- to support the growth of world music in North America in live and recorded form
- to increase the presence of North American world music artists here and abroad
Since we started, we have seen a great deal of successes in the achievement of these goals, largely implemented and carried forward by individuals, groups and companies within our community.
- The creation and maintenance of an active list-serve administrated by the North American Folk Alliance (fa-Worldmusic)
- Steadily increasing numbers of North American attendees at Womex, resulting in a now consistent "place at the table": a North American representative as one of the 7 Samurai for the past 3 editions.
- A regular space for meetings for the NA World Music community at events including WOMEX and the pre-APAP panels (in conjunction with the Summer Festivals consortium)
- The stimulation of a number of multi-artists showcases and festivals such as globalFEST (New York), !Globalquerque! (Albuquerque), and heightened world music presence at other industry events, such as SXSW (Austin) and elsewhere within Arts Presenters (APAP)
- Increased presence of world music at non-world music festivals, in nightclubs and in performing arts center seasons
- the creation of a Midwestern World Music Festival consortium which has helped turn mid-late September into a major new touring period
- a successful petition by the NARAS World Music Screening Committee for a 2nd World Music Grammy category (with a committee member who was also a NAWMC Board member)
- growing numbers of television and web properties devoted to World music
- the growth of new booking agencies devoted to touring world music artists and greater presence of world music on general market agency rosters
- A heightened awareness of the needs of the world music community on the agenda of the National Endowment for the Arts
All these successes, notwithstanding, the NAWMC faced a number of recurring challenges.
The NAWMC was an all volunteer board, and outside a short period where a newsletter editor was hired at a nominal rate to produce the newsletter, has been operating on a volunteer basis. Most of the Board members were either representatives from smaller not-for-profits or small entrepreneurs. As such, the Board members had limited opportunities to devote to the kind of intensive fundraising needed to be able to develop a more substantial infrastructure.
The volunteer board didn't have the staffing or time necessary for the basic administrivia necessary to keep a non-profit operational, and felt like our efforts would be better focused on the underlying goals and work, rather than bylaws, tax filings, membership drives, etc.
We recognize that as a multi-national, geographically diverse group of individuals and organizations from many sectors, the NAWMC has had its most success as a decentralized network of networks, (See the Starfish & the Spider).
It's our sincere belief that many of the efforts of the NAWMC - presence at international conferences, formal and informal networking online and at industry events, the incubation of panels and other professional development content for such gatherings, and so on - will continue in a de-centralized manner. Those of us who want to work for the betterment of the entire world music community will move forward with creative and entrepreneurial ideas, and formal and informal collaborative projects forged through connections established here.
There are a number of concrete steps that will now be undertaken to complete the process of dissolving the organization:
- notification to the State of Indiana where we are presently incorporated.
- re-direction of the www.worldmusiccoalition.org URL
- application for VAT funds for those who purchased WOMEX registrations through the NAWMC and distribution of refunds
- Use of the balance of funds, under the oversight of our fiscal agent, Grand Performances in Los Angeles, to purchase a North American Network booth at WOMEX for the next two editions, ensuring a multiplier effect and giving a hub to the community at these future editions.
We want to express our deepest thanks to everyone who supported this idea with their time, money and energy, with extra thanks to our previous presidents Tom Frouge, Ian Menzies and Dmitri Vietze for pushing this large boulder up the hill on a regular basis, and to all of the board members, past and present.
And we remind you that the dissolution of the organization as a formal entity is by no means an end to the efforts we'll all be making to support the growth of North American world music.
We encourage you to continue using this listserve, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and your own formal and informal networks as communication tools, and keep the discussions going at industry events and online.
Continue putting out great music and spreading the word about artists and recordings.
Continue bringing world music concerts to your community,
And continue to be the starfish that we are.
Christina King Miranda
Mark D. Moss