The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #137194   Message #3138148
Posted By: GUEST, Tom Bliss
19-Apr-11 - 08:25 AM
Thread Name: Folk Performers Association
Subject: RE: Folk Performers Association
Well, I'm one of the moderators for Britfolk, so I'll respond first to the comment about us widening our doors.

The door is already quite wide open, the official line is: "A discussion list exclusively for UK-based professional folk performers, including singers, instrumentalists, dancers, callers and storytellers. This list is restricted to performers living, working or seriously touring in the UK and earning all, or a significant part of their income in that way."

The reason we restrict to the UK is to keep a focus on UK issues and prevent the confusions that we sometimes see in international fora like this one. The 'siginificant part of their income' bit is to ensure that were all on a level field and feel happy to discuss things like incomes, fees and other sensitive issues.

When we set up Brifolk's sister list for Club Organisers, we decided for good reasons to allow non-club organisers who had some other business interest to join. It all came horribly unstuck as a result a few years later. I left at that point so I don't know how it's going now, but it hasn't convinced me to take the Britfolk door off it's hinges.

Note that BF is just a discussion group. It does operate a little like a union, in that there have been times when we (or rather perhaps folkWISE, the parent organisation) have done things that unions do, but there is, I think a consensus that BF is not a campaigning group. (I've been guilty at times of trying to make it so, so I know).

Some of the key MU FRTM people are members of BF, but not all BFs are in the MU, and not all agree with FRTM policy. I'm a big MU supporter (I'm in two other unions as well), but I don't agree with everything FRTM does - particularly when it comes to negotiations with PRS and the Government, where I feel the very reasonable MU focus on professional performers can run against the interests of the wider folk movement, and therefore the longer term interests of folk field performers.

So yes, I do think a Folk Performers Association that contains pros, semi-pros and ams is a good idea (as I still do of a Folk Club and Small Acoustic Venue Organisers Association - which was the reason I started the FCO group in the first place).

Many is the time I have pointed people at discussions here and elsewhere, and found they've not bothered to read the debate, or have just dismissed the points being aired as a minority view. Sometimes you do need to play the 'establishment' game, and be able to wave an 'official' badge to be taken seriously - even if your Association is very casual. If you're able to voice the zeitgeist, or just the consensus, or just be able to outline a list of well-supported points of view, you can make more progress than you can standing on your little soap box all alo-ney and a-lonely-o.

The Association would need excellent links with EFDSS, BF, FRTM and others for sure.

You'd have to decide if there was a committee, and if so how that would be constituted / elected / nominated (without spokesmen there wouldn't be much point of have the thing).

Fees? Well, actually I would suggest there should be a small nominal charge - first to provide a little cash for things like websites and expenses for tips to London for meetings or whatever, and second to prove a degree of commitment by the members. But without having to run a Cyril House Flats, or pension schemes or library/archive etc, the fee could be very small, and there could be a BF style discussion group too.

Though maybe Mudcat already serves that purpose - so should it just be the Mudcat Association?