The Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association has suffered another resignation, this time that of David Smith, the newly-elected representative of the Broadcasters constituency.
After just a month of service, he has written a letter to the Board stating his reasons for resigning. This letter has not been made public, though David has shared a statement with us in that regard. He titles it “My Month as an IBMA Board Member.”
Of course this month is an atypical one for the organization, as it included a move by the Board Chair that many saw as an attempt to unseat the Vice Chair, and which led to the resignation of Vice Chair Craig Ferguson from his seat.
But without reading anything additionally into his comments, here is Smith’s statement:
“These are truly exciting times for IBMA as an organization. It might be saying it lightly to state that there is some ‘soul searching’ going on within the Board right now. I call it such a minor situation because I only witnessed it for a month. Given the decades and decades of history that IBMA has, to witness such a thing for merely a month is minimal.
But what a month it was! And now with word of my resignation from the Board of Directors reaching members, I’ve been contacted by several individuals seeking insights into my departure. So, for the sake of a statement, please allow me to share this: I am geographically distant from any and all hubs of bluegrass; I am lacking the emotional connections and institutional knowledge to be involved with the continued discussions of the future of IBMA, as well as the ongoing debates of past concerns. After reflection and discussion with my family, I chose to regretfully resign my appointment as Broadcaster Representative on the IBMA Board of Directors.
So, having established that my resignation was a personal decision based upon geography, a lack of institutional knowledge, and an emotional detachment, let’s return to the exciting times for IBMA as an organization. What lies ahead are opportunities in establishing revived focus on mission and rallying the membership with decisive actions forward; ahead lies clarity for founded communication channels and definitions of leadership.
Please keep in mind that the group of people putting in countless hours on these matters (and they are!) – and bringing to those hours of work the passions and emotions that artists are instilled with – that these people are volunteers. This is going to take time and it’s going to be heated (arguments will arise) and it may even get sappy (who knows, there could be embraces of apology). But time should be allowed and, in my opinion, the high road should be taken of understanding that the individuals are bringing professional insights to a difficult situation.
My favorite aspect of bluegrass music is its emotional rawness. From Carter Stanley’s quivering voice on the WAMU Basement Tapes, where you can hear death knocking upon his weary body, to the low lonesome growl of Robert Greer, leading Town Mountain through a modern-day tale of love’s peril – if it wasn’t for the true impact that bluegrass has on our souls, I wouldn’t have anything to do with it. This is why emotions run high. We’re fans of an emotional genre because we’re emotional people.
I would like to thank those who found interest in my involvement with IBMA and apologize to those who were committed to my development within the organization. Thank you again for your time and your passion.”
Though he does not mention it here, we know from other board members that during the aftermath of Ferguson’s resignation, notes to the Board’s private email group was running 10-15 messages per hour, something that caused great consternation and frustration to a number of Board members with whom we spoke.
The Board has scheduled a meeting for tonight, whose agenda will include appointing a new Director for the Event Producers constituency to fill Ferguson’s seat, and electing a new Vice Chair. One presumes that a procedure for replacing David Smith by a new election will also be discussed, along with the airing of any remaining disquiet or frustration about the events that led to the resignations.
Though time is short, it is essential that any IBMA members who would like their thoughts to be represented in tonight’s discussions should contact their Board representative this afternoon. Contact information of all current Board members can be found at ibma.org. Emails might be best as they can peruse them in advance, and have them at the ready as the meeting commences.
Whether you are satisfied with current Board activities or have a grievance to voice, your representatives can only know what you think if you tell them.