Friday, February 27, 2015

Tim Sharp's State of ACDA speech at the 2015 national conference

Hey blog followers! Here is the address to Wednesday night's Kings Singers/Real Group audiences at ACDA in Salt Lake by ACDA executive director Tim Sharp. I am so honored to call him a good friend, and we ALL owe him a big debt of gratitude for what he has done to truly bring ACDA into the 21st century and grow our membership, especially among our younger people. I sometimes wonder if this man sleeps- he is so busy accomplishing so much!

Tim has allowed me to share this with you now- it will also appear in the April Choral Journal.

State of the American Choral Directors Association
Delivered to the 2015 ACDA National Conference, Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Sharp, Executive Director

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2015 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. Like prophets and pilgrims of former times, we have come to the mountains to renew our commitment to our collective mission of inspiring excellence in choral music education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our team of outstanding conference leaders have scaled this biennial mountain, and are architects of a magnificent conference design we will experience together. Here in Salt Lake City this includes 5,000 of us that are here as choral directors and members of the choral profession, 5,000 additional singers and supporters, and on Saturday evening, 21,000 of us will participate in the largest singing celebration in ACDA’s history.
Our ACDA Executive Leadership offers me this opportunity to give a brief survey of the state of our association. As a result of the success of our “Sing UP!” membership campaign and the hard work of our ACDA state chapters, ACDA currently has the largest membership in its 55 year history at over 21,000. If your state experienced the growth that contributed to our current robust health, we have our state leaders to particularly thank for their dedication to our mission. More members in ACDA simply translates to more choral leaders inspiring excellence in our artistic field.
This past November, ACDA launched a program that is the first of its kind for an association such as ours, which is the ACDA National Mentoring Program. This was the number-one outcome from our strategic planning work over the last four years, and I am pleased to say that as of today we have 125 mentors registered in the program, and 100 plus mentees registered, with 35 mentor/protégé matches.  This National Mentoring program will grow in size and importance as more of you discover this resource, and as you register for the benefits of this program. 10 percent of those attending our National Conference are retired choral directors. This program was built for you, so that you can contribute your expertise to a mentee who wants to learn from your experience. 25 percent of those attending our National Conference are registered as students in the choral profession. This program was also built for you, so that you don’t have to go it alone as you begin your work in this incredibly rewarding field. For the rest of us, including those in the first years of teaching or choral professional work, we too are both mentors and protégés in our work. This is the ongoing reason we attend this conference, the ongoing reason we read ACDA’s publications, and the reason we remain active in our beloved association; it is also why the ACDA National Mentoring program was built--for you.
The analysis of our needs as an association brings new energy to the specific work by which we engage in the choral profession. This conference is iconic in demonstrating ACDA’s attention to excellence in education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our attention to choral composition has created not only great buzz at this Conference, but it has resulted in ongoing attention to the choral composer and to choral composition. Coupled with our dedication to choral research, ACDA will host three additional national events this year, speaking specifically to the topics of composition in the USA and composition in Latin America.
As you see in evidence throughout the 2015 Salt Lake City National Conference, our international outreach for ACDA is at an historic high level, with ACDA members from over forty countries here with us. We welcome over 200 registrants and many ensembles and singers from outside the US with a particular welcome to our International Conductor Exchange program conductors from Sweden that are here with us, along with former exchange conductors from China and Cuba, and future hosts that are with us from South Korea and South America.
While I am pleased and inspired by all of this progress, I am also restless as I think of the work that still needs to be done and the areas of need we have identified through our strategic planning process. We are committed to moving forward as we address the following challenges in an innovative manner. Innovation will be in evidence this year as ACDA reaps the hard work of innovative leaders and members who will address additional areas of our strategic plan.

In the coming year, we will look to innovation to address the following tasks:

*ACDA will redefine the organizational structure to better accomplish our mission.
To this end, after three years of study and membership interaction, we have had richly productive leadership retreats that will now lead to concrete recommendations to our Board at this summer’s ACDA National Board Meeting. You can expect to hear about these structural recommendations early this fall.

*ACDA will encourage and expand grassroots events, inspiring excellence.
This deliverable will come from a restructuring of how we view, and how we do, our choral work at the grassroots level. It will come as we encourage ACDA members to be micro entrepreneurs and innovators in their choral leadership in our state, student, division, and international ACDA chapters.

*ACDA will develop a successful urban outreach initiative.
In order to do this, we need resources, and ACDA is in the process of gathering those resources through our newly established “Fund for Tomorrow”. By the end of this year, we will have over $100,000 in this fund that is designated for new choral work and new initiatives aimed at growing new choral singers and developing new choral directors. This fund is already at work with scholarships provided to students to attend this Conference, and here in Salt Lake City as we work with the United Way and local school district.

*ACDA will balance its efforts between choral education process and choral performance.
You are seeing those efforts working out before your eyes in our National and Regional conferences. You have seen the structure for this established as we expand our publications to include the International Journal for Research in Choral Singing, ChorTeach, ChoralNet, Choral Journal, and a soon to be announced publication for those working in faith communities.

*ACDA will embrace cultural diversity in membership, and will be welcoming and relevant to all races and ethnicities.
As we advance our relationship with our choral colleagues in Canada, Central, and South America, and with other colleagues in the United States, you will see this diversity continue to take place in our membership. New collaborations, proactive attention to this strategic imperative, and the growing presence of African-American, Latin American, and Asian American choral leaders within ACDA will help us make this a reality. As we look forward to hosting America Cantat VIII in 2016 with our partners in the Bahamas, Canada, and Central and South America, we also look forward to the possibility of our first ACDA chapter outside of the United States.

Along with ACDA’s leadership and all of you, I look forward to leading our efforts at accomplishing, through innovation, these strategic goals that are in front of us. I would like to call on all ACDA members to become micro entrepreneurs in each of these areas as we establish ways to address these strategic imperatives. Our membership efforts are never ceasing, and I call on all of you to identify and encourage ACDA membership in your area, as we becoming increasingly relevant to everyone working with singers. We have asked the right questions, discerned the right direction for our future efforts, and now it is time to go to work as we seek to make choral music making the uncommon core for our society.

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