[Bards] Some Answers

Kathy Elliott bardkat at verizon.net
Wed Nov 8 21:50:16 PST 2006

I can only speak for myself, but here are some concrete answers and
suggestions to several questions that have been raised lately.
(I apologize for the length of this .)

What does a thriving, growing, healthy bardic community look like?  How is
that different than what we have now?

A thriving, growing, healthy bardic community should be easily found - at
events, online, and within local branch guild meetings.

If we had a thriving community, I should be able to go to any event and not
worry about "will there be a bardic circle tonight?" because I would know
"Darius (or whoever) is hosting one after feast," or, "Maggie has organized
a fire walking group."  Ideally, these responsibilities should fall to the
group's titled bard - but the ball is dropped all too often, for many

A thriving community does not perform only in closed rooms, away from the
populace.  I understand that sometimes there are few other options for the
competition, but especially at those events extra care should be taken to
include other, more public, performance opportunities.

A growing community must be welcoming of new talent.  There must be a way of
work or "best practices" in place to help keep new folks from falling
through the cracks.  Within the SCA at large, we have the hospitalers.  At
the very least, we should make sure the local hospitalers have the website
address.  Ideally, I'd prefer something much more personal.  I'd like to see
a group of folks who've volunteered to share their contact information - via
the website & hospitalers - with anyone in their area interested in
bardcraft.  I'd like to see more "Bardcraft for Beginners" workshops, and
more children's bardic classes.

With a healthy bardic community, the nobles would know that they could
always count on being able to use bards to entertain the populace if court
is delayed, if the next remove from feast isn't ready, if the list field is
rained out and everyone is standing around bored (and grumpy), etc.  This
could be accomplished a couple of ways - through a "volunteer bardic" sign
in sheet at gate, or by wearing some sort of "bard targets."  The blue
sashes or favors have been suggested for this purpose.  I personally prefer
the sashes/favors.  I would love it if everyone at an event knew that you
could invite that person with the blue sash to entertain you.  (Likewise,
when a bard wants to be "off duty," the sash can be removed.)

What would you like to see happen that isn't happening now?  How can we make
that happen?
I'd like to see a thriving, growing, healthy bardic community.  I don't
think we, as a kingdom, have that yet.  Some local groups are on the right
track, but we're not there as a kingdom.

I'd like to see an annual Bardic Collegium.  This event should move from
region to region, and be held at about the same time each year.  I don't
think this will be a large enough event to stand alone (at least not yet),
but that might be a long-term goal.  In the meantime, we should piggy-back
with another event - preferably one that is not hosting a bardic
competition, so participants won't be forced to choose between classes and

I'd like to see Ansteorra host the Known World Bardic Symposium within the
next 10 years.

I'd like to see "Voices of the Star" become an annual - or at least
bi-annual - publication.

I'd like to see an Ansteorran CD that is supported by the Crown and Kingdom
Seneschal, and whose proceeds go back to the kingdom in some way.  (i.e.
"Fair Lady Atlantia")  We could start with the CD that was going to be made
with the anthems from the competition a few years ago.  (Did anything ever
happen with that?)

I'd like to see the DMoAS - Performing and Bardic Arts become a regular
position.  Just because it's a deputy position does not mean we should not
be able to count on it.  (Take a look at the Rapier Marshal.)

I'd like to see a separate bardic war point come back to Gulf Wars.

I'd like to see more bardic entries and bardic research papers entered in
kingdom A&S events.  I've always felt like these were supposed to be more
for the static A&S, but it doesn't sound like it .

I'd like to go to an event where I don't know anybody else, and find an
instant group to "hang with."

There are a number of ways that we could accomplish all of these goals.  To
me, a guild or college makes the most sense.

What can [other people in] the bardic community do to help you as a bard?

Offer collegiums and classes, publish "Voices" as a learning tool, host
circles and competitions, be a group of familiar faces at events, offer
crash space, and come up with other ideas and projects that I haven't
thought of.
What can you as a bard do to help the bardic community?
I can teach, host circles, fire walk, give largess, help put together
another "Voices of the Star," help with the "business end" of hosting a
collegium, make sashes/favors and/or banners, give word fame, make an effort
to approach new performers, share my contact information with the
hospitaler, help remind my local nobility and event stewards to include the
bardic arts in events, carpool/caravan with other bards to events, recommend
other bards for a Sable Thistle or Iris of Merit, and in general try to help
promote the bardic arts as much as possible.

How do I feel the goals above can best be achieved? 

When I was growing up, I was a member of the Girl Scouts.  I could have done
service projects, gone camping, horseback riding, and had fun and friends
without that organization, but being in a Girl Scout Troop definitely
facilitated those activities.  Furthermore, because of the group dynamics,
we did more as a troop than we ever could have accomplished individually.

The world is full of fellowship groups for just this same reason.  People
like to belong.  Take a look at the Girl/Boy Scouts,
fraternities/sororities, YMCA, after-school clubs, singles groups, book
clubs, PTA, science clubs . the list is endless.  With an organized group of
people behind a project, it tends to get done better/faster/easier.  Plus,
it's more fun!

Could I accomplish my bardic goals alone?  Maybe my personal ones, but not
my "wish list" for the kingdom.  But what if others share some of my "wish
list?"  Together, we might just be able to make a change.

Only by banding together as a group with a common purpose (the charter) can
we make big changes.  The exact organization of the group will have to
depend on what we want to do.  The more change we want, the more organized
we'll have to get.  Whether we label folks with the term "officer" or
"volunteer" or "coordinator" or "head poo-bah" doesn't matter to me.  

Do you want a group that will "exist under the authority of the Crown, via
the Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences, and/or his/her appointed deputy"
with "oversight of the college's adherence to Corpora, Kingdom Law, and the
best interests of the kingdom" maintained through this "existing
organizational channel", or do you want to join together in a co-operative
venture of bards?

I don't believe it's an either-or question.  As Ansteorrans, our group will
already be under the authority of the Crown.

Should our group swear fealty?  No, I think that's a personal decision.  Do
I think the Crown should have some special power over our group above and
beyond the populace at large?  No, but I could see the crown coming to us
and commissioning  pieces, requesting performances, etc.

Since we are already a part of the Arts and Sciences community, we already
fall "under" the KMoAS and his/her deputy.  Do we need to give them any
special position in the guild/college?  No, they've already got that
position within the kingdom.  What we do need to do is maintain open lines
of communication, and realize that many of our goals may only be
accomplished with their support.  We should also be willing to listen to and
consider their ideas.  As kingdom officers, they have a different
perspective, and just may have a great solution to a problem.

If we start violating Corpora or Kingdom Law, then we'll hear about it.
Frankly, though, I don't see that happening.  I think we already have the
best interests of the kingdom at heart, although everyone's idea of "best"
may certainly be different.

So, what do I want?

I would love an organized community of bards that I suppose more closely
resembles a co-op than anything else, but with a few coordinators / officers
/ volunteers to take on various projects.  For example:
	A web master, and possibly assistants
	A group of regional "bardic hospitalers"
	A collegium event steward, and collegium event committee
	A "Voices of the Star" editor, and assistants
	A CD guru, and assistants
Possibly a chronicler, who would take minutes at meetings and write the
newsletter with input and assistance from the rest of us.
(this is not meant as an end-all list of officers, I'm just brainstorming.)

In other words, we need people who agree to make sure the various projects
we want to do get done.  When more than one person wants a "position," they
could either share it, or we could vote.  

The Premier Bard is not a college competition; it is a kingdom competition.
With that fact acknowledged, maybe we want to look at inviting the kingdom
bard to be the "honorary head of the college/guild?"  Kind of a vague title,
but it allows the Kingdom Bard to work with us as much or as little as
he/she likes - or even not at all.

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