Three more IBMA Board members resign

ibmaEarlier today, At-Large representative Henri Deschamps, Treasurer Elizabeth Wightman, and Agents/Managers/Publicists representative Brian Smith resigned from the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association. These came following a vote during last night’s Board meeting to not accept the resignation of Chair Jon Weisberger, who has made multiple offers to do so.

This brings to five the number who have elected to leave the Board since this year’s World of Bluegrass convention in September. Vice Chair Craig Ferguson resigned on November 2.

All three submitted letters of resignation today.

From Deschamps…

Henri DeschampsDear Fellow Board Members,

After consultation with members and much consideration, I am resigning from the board of directors of the IBMA effective as of November 20th, 2014.

Unfortunately I share neither the chair or the board’s assessment of our current situation, what brought us to this crossroads, of the nature and volume of the reforms required, of the challenges we face, nor of the reforms in governance architecture, methods and processes required to move forward constructively.

I sincerely believe the organization is in need of significant reforms. The IBMA is a dues paying member and constituency based organization and with the new challenges we face and the opportunities within our reach the IBMA needs a new paradigm based on bottom up governance in fact and not just in intent. While writing this I glanced at my browser and saw again our state’s [North Carolina] motto “Esse quam videri”, “To be, rather than to seem.”; The governance structures customs and habits which may have served perfectly well in the past, are no longer up to task, all structures slip over time, but we need again “To be, rather than to seem.” I think all board members are well intentioned, and making a few good moves in the right direction does not solve distrust as structural problems, human nature, and old habits fall back in place by attrition. As a member of the organization I would also welcome more plain speaking transparency by the board in all things big and small.

I wish the board the very best, and hopefully its choices and options are the right ones. They may well be, but they are not options and methods I can embrace if I do not see the will or capability for a fundamental change. Which at this time I do not.

From Wightman…

Elizabeth WightmanFellow Board Members,

It is after much thought, discussion with trusted advisors and regret that I resign my seat on the IBMA Board of Directors. Although there are many reasons for this decision there are two primary reasons.

First, I cannot continue to serve on a board which I feel blatantly disregards the wishes and requests of the members it serves. The board has taken no true action to address the membership’s lack of faith in our current leadership and I cannot support that lack of action. There are significant issues that are essentially (in my opinion) being swept under the rug.

Second, although I respect Jon [Weisberger] in many ways, I do not respect his leadership methods or philosophies. I cannot be effective in my IBMA roles under Jon’s leadership and simply cannot continue to give freely of my time and energy under these circumstances.

All my best to all of you during this holiday season and beyond. I’m sure I will see you all down the music road somewhere.

And from Smith…

Brian SmithThe Board of Directors

After careful consideration and consultation with organizational members and respected colleagues and searching within to determine what was the best option for me personally and the organization as a whole, I am resigning from the IBMA Board of Directors effective today, November 20th, 2014.

After having served faithfully on this board since 2012, both as an elected member and a board appointed member of the EC (2013-14) and working hard to offer recommendations and guidance I felt were practical and beneficial based on personal business experience gained through operating one of the largest music retail operations in the US for more than 2 decades and a successful artist management firm for more than 5 years, I found myself at an impasse philosophically and morally. I share neither the chair nor the majority of the board’s assessment of our current situation, of the changes needed, of the significant challenges we face, style, logic or order in which change must occur; all required to move forward in the all-important areas the IBMA needs to improve in.

I deeply believe the organization is quickly in need of introspective review and experienced senior leadership, not only at the Executive Directors position but other positions as well and do not feel I can offer acceptable guidance under the current model. I do not wish to be a distraction to the board, which is made of up esteemed colleagues and friends and in order that they move forward I felt this was the only prudent option remaining.

I sincerely wish the board the very best, I tried my level best to guide as I felt was proper and hopefully their choices and options considered moving forward are the correct ones. Because at the end of the day we share a common desire; that the IBMA, its many members and the Trust Fund we all support, grow and prosper. We just don’t share a similar view of how to arrive there.

Deschamps is the owner/operator of The Mast Farm Inn, a bed and breakfast located in western North Carolina. He worked for many years previously in the fields of book publishing, television, and web development and has been extremely generous with the IBMA in terms of both time and treasure.

Smith operates Leadership Artists in Atlanta, a management firm that works with progressive bluegrass and alt-country acts. Before launching his company, he had worked for Turtles Records for 14 years before forming his own record store chain with two partners that grew to over 100 plus locations.

Wightman is a principal with Steel Bridge Insurance Services, a leader in the event insurance world, based in Santa Cruz, CA.

It may be notable that all three are from outside the “Nashville power structure” that would seem to now be in control of the organization. If Smith and Wightman are correct, the IBMA must take immediate action to restore the faith of its membership, and its various sponsors and event partners.

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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.