Found money!Submitted by Doug Brown
Rahway Valley, N.J., JerseyAires
CHAIR, Society LEADERSHIP TASK FORCE
As an outgrowth of our Chapter strategic planning process in 1993, the Rahway Valley, N.J., JerseyAires, Chapter has been receiving grant funding as a re-grantee of the Union County Council on the Arts that is funded by the State of New Jersey. The amounts have steadily grown from $1,500 per year to our current level of $3,800 for a period of 18 months.
The annual grant request titled, "Expand Quality Barbershop Singing To Non-Traditional Audiences," has paid off handsomely. We have used the funds to pay for vocal and presentation coaching at both our annual chapter retreat as well as coaching during the year, freeing up Mid-Atlantic District resources to help other chapters. While at the retreat venue, we were asked if we could perform for the inn's guests immediately following dinner, and this also served to expand beyond our natural audience.
In order to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, we have used funds to offer hearing enhancement devices and large print programs for our annual show audience. Many people are not aware that approximately 10 percent of people over 50, our main audience, suffer from some level of hearing loss. We advertise on show flyers, posters, and press releases that hearing enhancement systems and large print programs are available upon request.
We were also successful in using funds to secure the signing services of a local resident. She taught members of the chorus the signing interpretation of the SingAmerica/SingCanada theme song, "Teach The Children To Sing." We performed it both at our annual show, and during our Holiday public performances. Audience members remarked that they were overcome with emotion as they watched us perform. They told us they experienced the music for the first time as though it was being sung in an entirely different language!
In our ongoing quest to support the singing hobby within young people, the grants have also totally paid for all the Youth Outreach and YMIH activities we have conducted over the years. That includes all of the Society promotion materials such as audiotapes, music and collateral educational brochures. We've also contacted every high school choral music teacher in our county, and offered to give him or her free tickets for any of their chorus members who wanted to attend our annual show. While success has not been "overwhelming," we have succeeded in getting students to attend.
We have been using the grant funds to run High School Barbershop Quartet Contests, open to male, female and mixed quartets. We offer the winners funds to support their high schools' music program and provide medals for the successful individual participants.
The grant amount has also been able to contribute toward the costs of new member recruiting as long as we include advertisements and press releases that reach a widely diverse audience. We can do this with their blessing because it supports our goal of "keeping this indigenous art form alive."
Our latest funded upcoming initiative is sponsoring a Union County, N.J., area "Sing-A-Rama." This will be open to the public in a handicapped accessible venue. The purpose of the "Sing-A-Rama" is several fold:
We plan to involve parties from elementary school choruses (with their doting parents and grandparents) through high school and college singing organizations. Invitations will go to all religious based and non-religious based organizations that love to sing and might like to perform.
We want to Keep the Whole World Singing.