[Bards] One person's opinion

John Hirling jhirling at gmail.com
Tue Nov 7 10:09:02 PST 2006


I've read with interest the discussions engendered by HL Gerald of
Leesville's original post and applaud him for reawakening the exchange of
ideas on the list.

It is my privilege to serve you as the Kingdom Minister's of Arts and
Sciences Deputy for Bardic & Performing Arts.  Some time ago (May 1, 2006,
to be exact) I posted the following to the list:

The mission of the DMoAS for Bardic and Performance is to encourage bardic
and performance art.  That mission is shared with the Kingdom Bard, should
she or he accept it -- indeed, it is shared with every bard (especially
titled bards) and performer in Ansteorra -- the difference being that the
DMoAS is accountable and should be intentional.

Accordingly it is the duty and responsibility of the person holding the
office to seek out ways to improve bardic and performance art within the
kingdom.  Again, I suggest that is a role we all share, the difference being
that of accountability and intentionality.

In my case, as a laurel I also have the ability to act as your voice among
those who are entrusted with kingdom and interkingdom competitions and who
strive for some uniformity and predictability in judging competitions.

As you no doubt notice, these are fairly global and general responsibilities
and duties.  Neither Mistress Gwyneth nor I consider this a "from above"
office.   We do not deem it appropriate to take over someone else's
project(s) even when asked.  Projects ebb and flow and come and go.  Some
have terrific merit, other less.  We believe the kingdom and the projects
themselves are best served when those who have a passion for them stay in
charge.  Their authors are also probably the better people to find

There is more to the post and I invite those interested to look to the

Since that time, I have hosted a Bardic Round Table at King's College,
worked with my fellow laurels and bards in reevaluating our upper level
competition judging criteria, and judged several competitions -- with and
without judging forms.

I offer the foregoing simply for context and because Sam Hill wanted to know
what I *do* :)

My experience with and observation of kingdom wide organizations does not
recommend the establishment of an organization of Ansteorran Bards.  Nothing
I have read to date challenges those experiences and observations.

There are many reasons why these organizations fall short of the high
expectations and good intentions of their supporters: politics, lack of
support, the organization becoming more important than its vision, lack of
shared vision, real life, to name only a few.

Nor have I observed these organizations as being more adept at planning or
running an event.  That is much more a function of the stewards, their
coordinators, and local support.

So, without such organization, what might we do to encourage and strengthen
our performing arts?

1) Frankly, I found the Bardic Round Table stimulating and valuable.  I
recommend that we hold one at each and every King's College, Kingdom A&S,
Kingdom Eisteddfod (to that end, I offer to host a Round Table at K E this
year to discuss matters of interest), Laurel's Prize Tourney, and any other
collegia that includes matters of interest to the performing arts.  There is
certainly no reason why regions cannot hold their own Round Tables to
support and strengthen the performing arts in their areas.

2) I encourage titled bards to take a more active role in encouraging and
strengthening the performing arts for the group whose title they hold.  That
may take the form of monthly gatherings where the title is fairly local, or
quarterly where travel is necessary.  I've always felt that one should not
hold titles for more groups than that person is willing to serve.  In most
cases, that will be one at a time if one is going to do a good job.

3) Get out there and perform!  Wander as a minstrel; offer a tale to a
pavilion.  We have no right to a captive audience.  Our job is to captivate

4) Wear a blue "whatever" with or without gold trim.  Does it really matter
whether it is a sash, a baldric, or a favor?  I suggest blue because that
tradition is still recognized by many and will be recognized by more the
more it is seen.

Finally, you are a performer when you perform -- not because you belong to
an organization of performers.

In your service,

ihon vinson macFergus, OL
Deputy Minister of Arts & Sciences for Bardic the Performing Arts
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