IBMA Says: Send us your World of Bluegrass seminar suggestions

As we have reported several times, the 2020 World of Bluegrass will take on a very different character than what we are all used to seeing. Because of the shutdown restrictions in North Carolina, the IBMA was forced to cancel in-person events for their annual convention in Raleigh, and switch to a virtual, online version of their big week for bluegrass.

The bad news, of course, is that regular attendees will miss the camaraderie and direct engagement with friends and colleagues from all over the world, and the chance to enjoy meals and conversation together, plus hear the best in live bluegrass music. As plans for the event start coming together, though, it begins to appear that some good news may be available as well, with opportunities to reach well beyond the business meeting’s normal audience by going online.

Since all the morning and afternoon seminar sessions will be held virtually, many more people will have the opportunity to attend, and take part in these educational and strategy meetings. The cost for an online registration will be greatly reduced from the usual in-person fee, and some WOB events will be streamed at no cost. While many of us will feel a sense of loss this year by watching from home, we can hope that many more will be able to become involved, and perhaps attend in real life in the coming years.

Today the IBMA has asked members and the wider bluegrass community for suggestions as to seminar topics, and is accepting proposals for potential sessions by interested organizers. Both can be submitted online.

Suggesting a topic is a fairly simple and straightforward business. Simply visit the web form set up to accept suggestions, and give your name, email, and describe your idea for a session. No additional follow-up is required, though someone from the IBMA may contact you with further questions.

Proposing a seminar is a more detailed process, reflecting the intention of the proponent to organize and manage a session. A web form is also provided, but it requests a considerable amount of information, so these pitches should be carefully thought out in advance. 

Among the questions asked is which format you envision the presentation would be in.

  • Panel Discussion: 3-4 presenters discuss their (typically different) experiences/perspectives on a topic with one another and the audience.
  • Virtual Round Table: A series of 4-6 related topical discussions occurring simultaneously, often led by table leaders and coordinated by an overall moderator. Attendees may rotate from table to table or stay put. 
  • Workshop/Demonstration: In-depth training or learning. It is expected that attendees actively participate in the session and may require attendees to have concrete ideas and/or materials to work on during the session (i.e. workshopping a song).
  • Pitch Event: Attendees pitch material or ideas to a panel of experts for constructive critique and feedback for improvement, refinement, or next steps.
  • Networking Event: Intended to introduce and familiarize two or more industry groups (i.e. broadcasters and labels) to develop, improve, or further construct business relationships.

IBMA is willing to consider seminar concepts outside these accepted norms as well.

You should also have a good idea of which constituency will be most interested in your session, who you would invite as moderator and co-panelists, and what level of professional experience would be required for attendees to profit from your session.

If enough proposals come in, IBMA may be able to offer even more informational and networking opportunities than ever before, given the ability of everyone to contribute remotely.

There will also be a virtual Exhibit Hall this year for instrument builders, bands, festivals, universities, retailers, accessory manufacturers, and others to display their wares during World of Bluegrass. Contact the IBMA office to learn more about this option, as the WOB web site has not yet been updated to reflect the 2020 virtual status of the event.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.