Executive Director Letter


Dearest Community of Creatives and Caretakers,

I would like to start by expressing my gratitude and admiration for Dianne Tankle, NERFA’s conference director during our first 25 years, and Courtney Rodland, the conference director in 2019.  Dianne’s dedication to the Folk Music Community and art form is literally without peer regionally, nationally, or internationally.  Courtney’s stint as director, though short, introduced a modernization of our communication systems that have been wonderful to inherit.  The culture of NERFA is a cornerstone of the organization, and it was the great work done by both of these amazing women that allows me to begin having this conversation in the first place.

Shortly before I stepped into the executive director role, we brought on  Jess “Razzi” Wrubel as office administrator for the organization.  Aside from her nine years serving NERFA as part of our Board of Directors, Jess also brings her background in social media management and work as a master’s degree student working towards her degree in digital marketing & analytics as she serves as NERFA’s backbone of communication.

This year, we are in the early phases of an ambitious path of establishing an online portal for artist, presenter, event producer, DJ, and industry folks for consistent and enhanced Professional Development opportunities.  By now, I hope you have seen our intentions video that was released in early November.  That video was quite honestly us putting our cards on the table.  We produced and rolled out two panels in December and will be presenting multiple workshops every month for the foreseeable future.

In addition, January will begin the rollout of both a presenter-focused and performer-focused peer group.  Special thanks to Dan Gottfried and Barbara Shiller for taking the lead in organizing the presenter peer group kick-off scheduled for January 14 and Rod Abernathy, Genevieve, and Joe Crookston for beginning the setup of the performer peer group’s kick-off on January 11.

We will also see the rollout of the new video spotlight series where all the performers in our community are encouraged to submit one single song video for review.  Every month three artists will be recognized for their work.  More on that soon!

Mentorship is currently being reworked and replumbed as an online opportunity to step into both short-term advisory opportunities as well as a brand-new mentorship program pairing experienced performers and presenters with emerging artists and presenters to help cross-pollinate ideas and career growth for folks on both sides. While we intend to get this up and running as soon as possible we are likely looking at a March rollout of the full system.

The NERFA Board and Staff is engaging with some of the significant voices in our community for a series of videos we are currently calling “Keynotes”.  These videos will discuss everything from mental health to diversifying representation within our community, and I am particularly excited about these addresses and the conversations we hope will come from them.

Finally, I wanted to briefly talk about the NERFA Talk community.  We value your voices and would like to foster a place to have open and honest discussions on opportunities for presenters, performers, and our industry folks as a whole.  Historically, we have implemented a strict stance on self-promotion, but at the same time we welcome people’s discussions on the art of musicianship, performance, the challenges of all of that, and where people are finding successes and failures.  But I also recognize that we all want to share what we are doing so starting today once a week – Mondays for Presenters and Tuesdays for Performers – we will be starting single threads for folks to share what they are doing.  The reasoning here is, while we love to support each other, NERFA Talk is a closed professional resource and, as such, it’s really the wrong place to try to build a following.  If you are looking for professional feedback and to share what you are up to we will welcome your posts in these single threads every week.

Happy New Year and Warm Wishes,

Ethan Baird
Executive Director, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance

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