The staff and many volunteers with the International Bluegrass Music Association faced a lot of late nights and strained nerves in September, leading up to their first ever all virtual presentation of their annual World of Bluegrass convention. Not only is this event, in its multiple component parts, their major organizational effort each year, its also their primary funding mechanism for both their ongoing expenses and for the IBMA Trust Fund.
Could they get everything ready to take these events online for the first time, would they satisfy the membership who look forward to getting together in person for World of Bluegrass in the fall, and could they make the sort of positive impression that is their raison d’être to the much larger audience anticipated since anyone, anywhere would be able to watch?
With the information and numbers announced this morning, it turns out that the answers were yes, yes, and yes – with another big yes in that all the fundraising goals for 2020 were also achieved, thanks in part to a generous donation from naming sponsor PNC Bank, which has been a strong supporter since World of Bluegrass moved to Raleigh some years ago.
Attendance and registration were handled differently this year, with a much lower fee charged to industry professionals to attend the many seminars and sessions in career development and the like, with all of the live music (actually pre-recorded live), the awards show, and the weekend IBMA Bluegrass Live! festival free to the public.
But in the end, the numbers were tremendous, with a total of 101,636 individual participants over the week watching content online. Across the multiple channels – IBMA’s official event platform, IBMA social media (Facebook and YouTube), and outlets (web, app, Roku, and other OTT), 189,325 views were recorded for WOB streams.
IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger spoke for the entire organization in expressing gratitude for the support of the wider bluegrass community.
“We are grateful for the success of this year’s IBMA Virtual World of Bluegrass for many reasons. Delivering a week of education and entertainment was important to our bluegrass community in this tough year, and doing so in a brand new way was extremely daunting. And I have no words to adequately express our appreciation for the generosity of PNC and everyone who donated to help the IBMA and the IBMA Trust Fund. Our generous supporters have demonstrated how the bluegrass family sticks together with passion and resilience.”
At the same time as they announce the 2020 numbers, IBMA has also shared plans for World of Bluegrass 2021 to take place in person, September 29-October 2 in Raleigh, NC. The primary convention activities will be centered around the Raleigh Convention Center, with Bluegrass Ramble concerts occurring at a number of downtown venues, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards held at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center, and the IBMA Bluegrass Live! Festival taking place at the Red Hat Amphitheater.
Which was received as great news by David Brower, Executive Director of PineCone and a Tri-Chair of the Local Organizing Committee.
“We were excited to see the City of Raleigh shine once again as the host city for IBMA’s World of Bluegrass and festival. Sure we wish the bluegrass world was here in person, but what happened online this year was still kind of magical in the way it brought people together. From the Mayor’s welcome to the bands performing on location in Raleigh, the partnership between IBMA and the Local Organizing Committee contributed to the success of this year’s virtual festival. Raleigh looks forward to welcoming the global bluegrass community back to North Carolina in 2021.”
Let’s all keep positive thoughts about assembling again in Raleigh next September. Bluegrass music is at its best when played by real musicians in front of real people.
See you all there in 2021!