Category: Blogs

The Health Benefits Of Dancing Go Beyond Exercise And Stress Reducer

Lanphier-healthful dancing at

A report from NPR begins with th question: What are the health implications of dancing? New social science research shows that dancing in synchrony with others increases people’s threshold for dealing with pain.

Psychology researchers at the University of Oxford recently published a study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. They brought volunteers into a lab and taught them different dance moves. They then placed the volunteers in groups of four on the dance floor and put headphones on them so they could hear music.

Some of them were taught the same dance moves, and others were taught different dance moves. Before and after the volunteers danced to music, the researchers measured their pain threshold by squeezing their arms…

Now, many of us already know that or have experienced the various benefits of group dance, particularly the kind we do at our camps, but here’s some details.  Listen to the story…

Update from Executive Director Jay House

It has been a busy summer, with two wonderful camps, and the June launch of Kef Times in its new, easy-to-share format, as well as its expansion to a thrice-yearly publication (look for a new issue on or about Sept 15). Now, as I see back-to-school pictures spread across Facebook, and prepare to send my own daughter to kindergarten here in NY, in just about a week, it begins to feel like Fall.

There is something about the change of season and new start of each school-year that makes me feel like renewal. With that in mind, I am excited to get back into the swing of giving you all monthly updates about EEFC news and accomplishments.

We have a lot of fresh energy in this area, inspired by the board’s commitment, made in our Spring 2014 board meeting, to an active role in fundraising for the organization. I am also really happy to be working with a strong chair of the development committee, board member Amy Mills, who has recently signed on in this capacity. Here are a few highlights.

  • Amy, along with board and fundraising committee member Nancy Leeper, and I are about to start working on the end-of year donation/membership renewal letter. Please stay tuned for that in November (and as a reminder, if you are a member, memberships all run on a calender year, and therefore are up for renewal as of December 31, 2014).
  • We are pleased to share that the spring fund drive generated $6,000 in donations. Our goal was $15,000, but we learned a lot from our first time out, and will come back in the spring of 2015 to reprise the effort.
  • Even more exciting, we are very happy to share that an anonymous donor has committed to a two-year gift of $10,000 per year for general support. We learned this while at Iroquois Springs, and are very excited about the support from the community this shows.
  • Finally, I am delighted to share that between the two camps this summer, we raised $13,000 in scholarship money. I will work with the board and the scholarship committee to determine the best way to use the money, with an eye towards leveraging an unprecedented amount of scholarship money for long-term benefit.

There is also quite a bit of financial work going on right now, as Traci and Rachel reconcile camp expenses and income, all of which is necessary for developing a 2015 budget in time for the start of the EEFC’s new fiscal year on October 1. That takes a lot of focused energy, and means that we don’t yet know the full picture of the year, financially speaking, but we are dedicating our energies there now.

This month, in advance of the fall board meeting (Sept 18-20, in NYC) I will be developing the 2015 budget, which the board will review at the meeting. In the past, we have struggled to have this ready, due to the tight turn-around between the end of the East Coast Camp, and the end of the fiscal year.

None of this could have happened without the support, both in terms of volunteer effort, and memberships and donations, that you, our community contribute. Thank you for your part in the work we do.

Next month, look for my update in the next issue of the all-new Kef Times which will now be appearing three time each year.

Thanks for reading, and please keep in touch with me if you have questions, comments, or concerns about what’s happening with the EEFC.


Posted By Jay House, Aug 29, 2014

Fall 2013 Board Meeting Summary

by Corinna Snyder, EEFC Board President


The Board posts our Board meeting notes on the website — here is a link to them. We agreed it would be good to also provide a summary of our meeting outcomes, so I’ve written one up, and here it is. It’s lengthy – as you can see we have a lot to do!

First and foremost on our to do list is fundraising. As you’ll read below, while we exceeded our fundraising goals, we still ran at a deficit this year, and we have run at a deficit for a few years now. We need to turn this around, and we will do so – and we will need your help!

Please reach out to me, or any other board member, including Jay, if you have questions – any one of us would be happy to hear from you.

Fall 2013 Board Meeting Summary
We confirmed the Strategy and Goals for the EEFC that we developed at the spring meeting:

  • Transition the Board out of operations: Our goal is to have our staff to take on the day-to-day operations of the organization so the board can focus on long term planning, fundraising, and governance. We are calling this Chart the Course.
  • Demonstrate our reach beyond the workshop programming: We want to bring the joy of Balkan music, dance and folkways to more people that we can reach just through our two workshops. Examples might be publications, online resources, educational programming. We call this More than Camp.
  • Raise the profile of the EEFC: We want the EEFC to be recognized as a significant resource for those interested in Balkan music, dance, and culture. We call this EEFC = The Source.

We agreed that to help the organization achieve these goals, we need a fourth goal: Improve our financial, technological, and organizational capabilities. We are calling this Build the Base.

Our realities:

  • Workshop costs are rising
  • Fundraising needs to grow
  • All staff are part-time and hours are limited
  • We depend on work exchanges and volunteers
  • Camp attendance at the Mendocino camp is lower than we want it to be
  • There is both opportunity and need for other revenue generating program offerings to offset workshop deficits, and
  • We need more consistent communications to our community.

Looking forward we want to:

  • Do more of what we do well
  • Better support people’s desires to help
  • Work better as an organizational team
  • Experiment with partnerships
  • Expand our reach beyond camp
  • Develop a fundraising plan, and
  • Continue to improve communication and transparency.

What we have accomplished this year, and our goals for the next 6-12 months

Financial Update
The finance committee and our intrepid staff have transitioned our books to conform to the Unified Chart of Accounts (UCA) protocols, a standard for nonprofit bookkeeping and accounting with categories that align with those on Form 990, our annual report to the IRS. By using this format, we can demonstrate to others that we are responsibly managing our finances. Now we can see our financial position in real time, and can compare our estimated costs and revenues to our actual costs and revenues with greater ease. In addition, our budgeting process is now integrated into our bookkeeping system, making the process easier, and letting us run scenarios. This is a huge and positive change: in the past, when I was asked to authorize an unexpected cost, it was difficult to determine the potential impact or what we needed to do offset the cost elsewhere. Those days are over! Lastly, this change puts us in a much better position to apply for grants from foundations, who like to see the ability to follow UCA protocols as a sign of good financial responsibility.

HUGE thanks to the finance committee (Biz, Jay, Doug, Nancy) and Traci for making this happen, and thanks to previous board members and staff who worked hard to keep us fully in compliance with the IRS, and our books clean—we are building on what you all started and/or stewarded for so many years.

Going forward we will be developing a multiyear budget to better plan for financial need, we’ll raise tuition a small amount annually to keep pace with rising costs of workshops, and we’ll continue to keep a close eye on our expenses at Iroquois Springs.

Financial FYI: Our camp at Iroquois Springs, as it is currently structured, does not break even. The cost to rent the facility (including food), which is the vast majority of the total cost, is fixed. We don’t want to pay our staff less or diminish the quality of our program, and we want to continue to provide as many work-exchange opportunities as possible to make it easier for more people to attend camp. Jay and I are analyzing different scenarios that we hope will result in a balanced budget for IS. Your ongoing support via the annual campaign, membership, and auction/donation/volunteering will help.

Technology Update
Jay and community volunteers have cataloged the different systems and software packages the EEFC uses to manage documents and data. Long story short—many systems can’t (or won’t) talk to each other and we have lots of documents floating around, with too much resident on local hard drives.

This year, a community-sourced tech team will recommend a technology infrastructure that gives staff and the board easy access to up-to-date, comprehensive, and accurate financial, membership, and other operational data and documents. Thank you in advance, tech team!

Board Operations Update
We need to update our bylaws to reflect recent changes (e.g., the new position of Executive Director), and to allow our community be a more active part of our committees by opening up committee participation to non-board members. Our new secretary, Ann, will lead that effort. We will also update the Policies and Procedures document to reflect the new roles and responsibilities of the ED and the organization. Nancy will lead that effort.

Fundraising Update
This year we raised more than we forecasted, which was great news. Congratulations to everyone who participated in that effort. Going forward, we will improve the membership program, and build relationships with individual donors. The EEFC will ask new programs (publishing projects, children’s education programs, etc) to help raise funds for their own efforts, including pursuing outside funding for support.

Marketing/Communications Update
New board member Elena Erber has begun creating a marketing and communications plan for the organization. This will help us produce regular community updates, provide an effective push to sell spots in both of our workshops (which has the potential to have a serious impact on the EEFC’s bottom line), and help us develop effective outreach to new organizations and individuals.

Workshop Update
We know it takes a village to create our two villages every year—but just how much of a village? We want to better understand what it takes to make the workshops happen. This year we’ll be asking the board, staff, work-exchange and volunteers who does what, what skills are needed, and how many hours does it take, to make it all happen. We hope this will help us find a way to better manage the cost of producing the workshops, and better recognize the contributions many of you make to create our workshops.

New Programs
We have community members who want to lead two pilot programs:
In-school program in NYC to teach Balkan repertoire, by ear
Cocek Nation, involving multiteacher rehearsals outside of camp, two or three performances, and a recording.
We raised $2,400 total at the IS auction for these two new programs, and there was very positive community support. These are also likely grant proposal candidates—expect to hear more in the future. Thank you IS campers for your support – you showed remarkable generosity, and just as importantly, you showed us you want to support the next generation of musicians, and you understand the value of bringing music education to children who may not have access to any arts education.

EEFC’s current resources include:

  • · Forum Folkloristika, the songbook, Kef Times, FAQs, and the listserv archives.

We discussed possible future programs, such as edited online discussions (similar to what happens now on the listserv on an ad hoc basis among recognized experts), an online resource center, and a YouTube channel. The publications committee will lead this effort, including developing a plan to pursue grant funding.

The Board agreed that the scholarship application and selection process needs to be better defined and communicated, and that if that is done well, the board will not need to have as much (or any) representation on the committee. This is a great example of our “Chart the Course” goal. Ann will lead that effort.

Scholarship FYI: Crum/Kef Scholarships are funded by donations to the EEFC scholarship fund. The average awards each year are three full positions per camp, with some awardees receiving full scholarships, some receiving partial scholarships, usually half or three-quarters. Stefni Agin Scholarship averages one full scholarship per year, and is funded by Jerry Agin and an anonymous donor. The Balkan Night Northwest Scholarship is a half or full scholarship for a resident of the Pacific Northwest and is funded by Balkan Night Northwest.

Workshop Programming
The committee is transitioning to longer range planning to allow us to coordinate workshop programming with other EEFC efforts, such as publications, and fundraising efforts, and to make it easier to program for more areas of interest on a more regular basis. It also will let us hire teachers who may need more lead-time to commit to teaching at our workshops.

Our goal is to have 1, 2, 3 and 5 year plans running concurrently, and to have “guest curators” who will work with core workshop programming committee members to recommend a full compliment of teachers for a particular slate that they are steeped in ( i.e Romanian, Bosnian, Sephardic, etc).

Summary by Corinna Snyder, EEFC Board President

Six-Month Update from Executive Director, Jay House Samios

Six wonderful months have passed since I began as executive director for the EEFC! What an amazing experience thus far, full of meetings with new people, putting faces to names long-seen on the listserv, and learning about the truly incredible contributions made by so many. As a great number of you know, I have been lucky to visit both Chicago and Seattle for their local Balkan festivals, as well as to spend time in both the NYC and the SF Bay areas (I currently split my time between Queens and San Jose). Any time I am at a Balkan event, I am eager to balance my love of dancing with my desire to talk, and more importantly, to listen to your stories.

What have we done in the last six months? Let me briefly summarize for you:

  1. We hired a great administrative team – After going through a rigorous search process and speaking to candidates from around the United States, I was so pleased to welcome Rachel MacFarlane back to the EEFC as a staff person in February. Holding the title of workshop manager, Rachel brings her deep knowledge of the community and Balkan culture, as well as a certain tirelessness required to make “camp” happen; Traci Speed transitioned last fall from a temporary role as the EEFC’s office manager to a permanent position as administrative assistant, dealing with all the EEFC’s daily bookkeeping, donation processing, workshop registration, and web edits, among other things. Traci’s scope of work is increasing, and her efforts are essential to keeping the organization running. I am so glad to be working with these talented and dedicated people.
  2. We published a second edition of Forum Folkloristika – If you haven’t read it yet, please take a few minutes to check it out. The EEFC has received high praise from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts for our work on Forum Folkloristika. You can read the current issue here. The first issue is available here.
  3. We are well underway to planning a successful and vibrant 2013 Workshop season – I don’t think a lot has to be said here, other than the fact that Rachel, along with the Program Committee, and our dedicated site managers, Helen Stuart for Mendocino, and Nancy Butowski for Iroquois Springs are working very hard to produce the unique and high-quality Balkan music and dance workshops the EEFC has become known for.
  4. We have improved the EEFC’s books – Driven by the EEFC’s Finance Committee, we have transferred our organizational chart of accounts to a format that is recognized by the IRS and greatly streamlines the process for filing taxes as well as reporting for funders. This is one of those hidden improvements that, while it may not appear to directly benefit the community, it actually allows us to do our jobs better, and also represents a significant step in the direction of building the infrastructure needed to bring more Balkan music and dance to the world.
  5. The EEFC’s Board of Directors has begun the transition from being primarily operational to a body focused on leadership and governance – The Board has cataloged the administrative work they do for the organization, and together we have developed a plan to shift that work to staff. This will allow the board to guide the organization through a significant strategic planning process, as well as new program development, and increased/diversified fundraising. Such a major step places the EEFC  in a position to grow our mission to promote, celebrate, and educate the public about traditional and traditionally based music, dance, and cultures of the Balkans.
  6. I have met with members, Balkan music and dance lovers, and others – Since joining the EEFC, I have spent a considerable amount of time focused on talking with, and really, learning from so many of you. This has happened on the community outreach trips to Seattle, Chicago, the Bay Area, and in New York, not to mention via phone and email. I am always excited to hear from people who have been involved in various capacities in making the work of the EEFC happen. This is, in many ways, the most important thing I can do, and I invite any and all of you to contact me at any time to share your stories. Similarly, I’ve also met with organizations that are aligned in some way with the work we do, and hope to continue that mode of learning as we develop new programs and initiatives.

Always close to my heart is the shared love of Balkan culture—the music and dance specifically—that has such deep importance to us all, and all for such multifaceted reasons. I am delighted to be at the helm of an organization dedicated to sharing the kefi we feel!


Meet & Greet Events in NYC, Bay Area, Seattle, Chicago & Boston

Starting next week (Jan 1, 2013) Jay House Samios will be hosting a series of Meet & Greet events in a few cities in the US in the next few months. These events are an opportunity to meet and and talk about upcoming activities and plans for the organization.

Anyone is welcome but we do ask that you RSVP to so that we know who is coming. Read below for the schedule so far

January 1st, 2013, 2:00-4:00pm
Bay Area, CA
I will make very brief remarks, and then be available for questions and conversation at the home of Lise Liepman and George Chittenden in Albany, CA. Lise & George have an informal gathering on New Year’s Day, a lovely way to start the year, after a great party at Ashkenaz the night before, and they have happily agreed to host us as part of the celebration.

Please note that I will also be attending the New Year’s Eve Party at Ahskenaz in Berkeley if you can’t make it to the Meet & Greet, but still want to say hello. Details on the NYE party are available here:

January 19, 2013, 2:00-4:00pm
Brooklyn, NY
Join me in Brooklyn on the Saturday afternoon of Golden Festival at the home of Sarah Alden as I make very brief remarks. I will then be available for questions and conversation. Then head back to your base for a “disco nap” before returning to the Grand Prospect Hall for night two of the only music and dance festival of its kind in New York. Celebrating 28 years of live Balkan, Roma (“Gypsy”) music and beyond, the Festival is hosted by Zlatne Uste Brass Band and features dozens of live bands playing on FOUR (!) stages. It’s an amazing event that I encourage you to attend if at all possible. Tickets are available at

I will also be present at Golden Festival, staffing the EEFC’s table there (when I am not dancing, of course!) so you can also look for me there.

Other events coming up include Seattle on Mar 15, and Chicago on the weekend of Mar 22; plus Boston later in the spring. More details to come.

Top 10 Misconceptions about Camp

Misconception #1 – Tuition Covers Everything Needed to Bring You the Two Amazing Workshops You Have Come to Expect
In order to host the workshops we know and love, the EEFC relies on a certain amount of infrastructure, including things like insurance, staff, accounting services, publicity, and the website. Together with hard costs, the expense of running the workshops far exceed the revenues brought in by tuition. Since the organization has made the philosophical decision to keep tuition as low as possible, the EEFC has to make up the difference with other revenue.

Misconception #2 – Mendocino Subsidizes Iroquois Springs
While the facility cost at Mendocino Woodlands is lower than that at Iroquois Springs, when you add in the expenses associated with each camp, including staff travel, meals and kafana, the total cost of each is comparable. It’s an important part of the EEFC’s mission to be able to offer workshops on both coasts, and we know we are fortunate to have these two different facilities, each one great in its own way.

Misconception #3 – Our Workshops Are More Expensive Than Other, Comparable Workshops
The EEFC offers more classes, a greater variety of staff, and more evening parties (not to mention the kafana) than comparably priced music and dance camps. We have worked to keep tuition low, with no increases in 2010, 2011 or 2012, and for 2013 have recommended a modest increase to offset increases in hard costs.

Misconception #4 – Exchanging Free Camp Attendance for Help at the Workshop Doesn’t Hurt the EEFC’s Bottom Line and is a Great Way to Get Volunteer and Other Help
The EEFC has contractual relationships with both Mendocino Woodlands and Iroquois Springs, and we must pay a per-person cost for each person that attends camp. This includes teaching and administrative staff, performers, work exchanges and teachers’ families. For example, each full work study costs the EEFC approximately $1000 in hard costs (facilities and food). This figure does not include the administrative and organizational costs mentioned above.

Misconception #5 – Teachers Do It For “Nothing”

While the EEFC offers stipends to its teachers that are lower than what they could potentially earn performing at a wedding or other lucrative gig at the same time, we hear from teachers, and see from the fact that so many return year after year, that there is a reason to come teach at a workshop beyond commanding a large fee. For some, the opportunity to participate in a rich community for a week each year (many with families) is just as attractive as it is to non-teaching campers. For others, time at camp means they meet new private students that help them build their reputation or student base back home. We know that teaching at our workshops gives back more than a stipend.

Misconception #6 – The EEFC Spends Tons of Money on Airfare for Foreign Teachers
In actuality, airfare is a very small part of our costs (about $10,000 per year, or less the 5% of total workshop costs), and deciding to take a local teacher because they only incur car or bus travel costs does not neessarily meaningfully lower our costs. In fact, we usually find rides for teachers arriving by airplane, which further cuts down on the cost of travel. On occasion, when we bring international teachers, we are able to share costs in part or in full with other camps.

Misconception #7 – Sneaking Into Camp Is No Big Deal
The EEFC values its relationships with the organizations that run the two campsites. As mentioned above, there is a contractual relationship with each where we agree to pay a per-person cost for each camper. Anytime someone sneaks into camp, and does not pay, it jeopardizes the trust we have built with Iroquois Springs and Mendocino camp owners, and is a breach of contract that impacts every one of us.

Misconception # 8 – The EEFC Pays Less For Tent Campers (Than People Staying in Cabins)
Nope! This one is just not true. We pay the same price per camper regardless of whether you sleep in a tent or a cabin.

Misconception # 9 – The EEFC Has the Mendocino Woodlands in Perpetuity
While the Mendocino Woodlands is a protected site, there remain many forces, such as logging interests, that jeopardize the facility. The Woodlands are also at risk to natural disaster—fire is a particular threat. If anything ever happened that prevented the EEFC from using this campsite, it is certain that our costs would increase for a comparable facility on the west coast.

Misconception # 10 – There’s a Secret Back-Room Conspiracy in Programming
The Program Committee is charged with finding musicians with multiple talents. It’s not enough to be a virtuoso—we need musicians who can teach, play for dancers, are comfortable playing in pickup bands, can play outside of their usual repertoire, and can coordinate with other teachers so that classes can come together to perform at the student concert. Programming is also a huge logistical challenge—solving the practical puzzle of creating workable workshop schedules. And lastly, the Program Committee works hard to create workshops that offer a breadth of instruments and regions while also providing a deeper dive into one or two traditions, and over time looking to provide that deeper dive into all our diverse traditions. Programming is a real juggling act. The EEFC is fortunate to have had a dedicated group of people working hard to select and confirm the slate of teachers and performers. Volunteers from the community are encouraged to contact the Board or Program Committee Chair you are interested in learning more about participating on the Program Committee.

ED Selection

ED Selection

We are close to completing the hiring process for the ED position. Here’s an update on the process and our progress.

We put out a call for the position via our website, the listserv and Constant Contact. We listed the position at a few universities that have not for profit management programs, and we reached out to other ethnic arts/music/dance organizations. We offered preliminary ‘informational’ interviews with members of the hiring committee (Nancy, Dan and Corinna) to the 6 candidates who expressed interest, and based on mutual feedback narrowed the field to three candidates, who then provided cover letters and their resumes. The hiring committee conducted formal interviews with these candidates via conference call, and talked for 60-90 minutes with each candidate, asking them a similar set of questions, and debriefed after each call.

We then asked two people not on the board to conduct shorter, less formal interviews with these three candidates, following the same model – get on a conference call for 30 minutes with each candidate, asking consistent questions. The two people who are helping us are Jerry Kisslinger and Ethel Raim. We are holding the last of these informal interviews the week of September 9th. Jerry and Ethel will provide their feedback and perspective to the hiring committee but they do not have a voting role in the final hiring decision. The hiring committee will make a recommendation to the Board and the Board as a whole will make the final decision.

At lunch with the Board the idea of giving our community a chance to meet the final candidates was raised. Ideas like an open conference call, a face to face meeting, sharing cover letters/statements of purpose, or finding some other forum where our community could meet the candidates, were shared. What we took away from that discussion was that our community wants more involvement in the process, and we understand that – this is a new position, and a change from the way we have operated in the past, and our community wants to make sure that the Board is making a good and right decision.

As the Board thought through how to respond to the suggestions, we felt uncomfortable trying to meet that need by changing the hiring process on our candidates this late in the game, and asking them to make their candidacy public. As we shared at Lunch with the Board, all our short list candidates are a part of our extended community. We have reached out to their references as well as to others who have interacted with them to get feedback. We feel it would be awkward all round for them to know who else had applied, and it could put the two candidates who will not be our final first choice in a pretty awkward position to have it be broadly known that they were up for, but were not offered, the ED position. I know that universities usually ask their short list candidates to publicly present talks to departmental students and faculty, and do a meet and greet, as part of the on campus interview process. Practically speaking, we don’t have the benefit of a physical campus that holds our entire community. Unlike a faculty hire, we are not hiring a full-time peer, but a part-time employee, who may have part time employment elsewhere, and that influenced us to respect the privacy of the applicants’ job search effort with us.

However, the Board wants the community to have input into the ED position – which is why we will include community feedback and input in the performance review process. There are a couple of different ways we can do this, such as anonymous feedback that the Board aggregates and discusses with the ED on a regular basis. Let us know if you have ideas on how the Board can best gather, and share, your feedback with our ED.

Comments on ED Role May 2012

This entry is in response to Carol Silverman’s comment/question below:

Hi friends, Re: executive director description:
I was wondering why familiarity with the Balkan music was not mentioned. I’m not advocating REQURING it but it does seem like familiarity either with the Balkans or with music should be considered. It seems like omitting it sends the message that it won’t even be weighed among applicants. However, perhaps the position is only administrative and not artistic/programming??
Thanks for listening, Carol

Our response/dialogue:

Hi Carol. We assumed that if we expected them to dance on tables at parties, that would require some familiarity with Balkan dance and culture…..

Joking aside, your question is a good one. As you can see in our job description we put the focus on meaningful experiences as a leader, as a strategic planner, and as a not for profit professional, as we feel these are the things we need for the organization to thrive, and what we want the ED to do – plan, lead, and manage our organization. We originally crafted our description with the assumption that we would circulate it – and get responses from – people who are in our direct or extended community, and who we know have at least a familiarity with the balkans. At a certain point, we also decided that we were going to broaden our search, and were not going to make familiarity with balkan music, dance or culture either a prerequisite or a qualification. It’s a long shot, but it’s possible that we may attract an extremely talented applicant who has the qualified experiences we need, who doesn’t have a familiarity with the focus of our mission, but who really wants to become deeply engaged in the world of balkan folk music culture and dance. And they certainly will have to do that to credibly represent our community and organization.

So while familiarity with balkan music dance and culture is not a precise requirement, it clearly plays a very important role in the ability of our future ED to get up to speed quickly and gain credibility and trust with our community. It will definitely figure in our assessment of candidates’ fit for the role.


Board & Program Committee Update Feb. 2012

Our priorities at this time are to:

  • maintain organizational stability
  • ensure the production of the best workshops/camps possible
  • open registrations earlier than ever

While beginning to look for some office work, members of the board along with some volunteers from the community have been taking care of these vital duties

  • handing/directing emails to the office – Demetri
  • registrations, Memberships and donations are handled by Ann Norton
  • calls to the office are handled by Ann N
  • staff contracts were sent out by Lise L.
  • Minor Waiver/Guardian Consent policy and forms developed by Corinna and Helen S.

All credit card transaction are only handled by Board member Ann Norton. Even after temporary office worker(s) are found, Ann will continue to solely handle this confidential information

Here are some Thought on and from The Programming Committee
Programming Committe goals and challenges:

We thought it would be helpful if we shared with you the goals that the programming committee has, so that you all have better insight into the process, as well as an appreciation for how hard it is to meet all of the goals.

The committee has to balance two sets of goals. The first relate to the skills and abilities of the teachers. The programming committee looks to create a slate of teachers each of whom:

  • Can teach 1 or more instruments (including voice) or dance style, and/or lead an ensemble and/or teach musicianship skills (e.g. modes, genres, theory, improvisation)
  • Can teach to a variety of levels
  • Can teach small and large groups
  • Can lead, play in, or lead dances for one or more dance bands for the evening dance parties
  • Is open and accepting of colleagues from ethnic communities other than their own
  • Is flexible, easy to work with, approachable, accommodating, and respectful of the needs of the organization and our community

There are a few other data points that enter into the overall equation as well:

  • Can they be available for the entire week?
  • How much do we estimate their travel will cost?
  • Do they need a translator at camp?
  • Do they need visas?
  • If they are new teachers, do we have first-hand experience in our community about their teaching style and ability?

The second set of goals relate to the depth, breadth and focus of the workshop overall, The programming committee looks to create a workshop that:

  • Puts a thematic focus on one or more genres, e.g. Greek, Trans-Carpathian, Turkish, Albanian, Roma, Macedonian, Bulgarian. This helps us make sure we’re creating enough instruction to support ensembles, and helps us make sure we have great dance party bands.
  • Balances contemporary and traditional instrument instruction. Contemporary instrument support helps musicians who are new to Balkan music find an entry point into the music.
  • Supports our goal of providing access, over time, to a full range of genres and regions in the Balkans, to accommodate the diverse interests of our community

Our teachers cannot commit to teaching years in advance, which means it is very difficult for us to tell our community that we will create, say, a Greek focus in Mendo every three years, or a Turkish focus in IS every 5 years.

We face some difficult decisions every year – here are some examples: We have a cadre of dedicated and excellent teachers who are almost always ready, willing and able to teach, and can commit early in the planning process to teaching. Does the benefit of asking them to teach, which mitigates the possibility of last minute scrambling and the risk that we don’t have instruction in some core areas, outweigh the cost of possibly losing out on an opportunity to introduce a wonderful new teacher?

We identify a band that we know will provide incredible nights of dancing. However, we are not sure that all the band members will be equally successful instructors. Does the benefit of the great band and some great teachers sufficiently outweigh the cost of having some weaker instructors?

We have an opportunity to host an incredible teacher or teachers from overseas, at limited cost to us, because they are already planning to be in the US. But we already had a camp last year with the same area of focus. Do we repeat the focus to take advantage of these unique teachers?

We identify a phenomenal musician who wants to teach but can’t make the entire week. Does the value of her 5 day presence outweigh the loss of her presence for two days?

We can’t support instruction in all instruments every year and still maintain a thematic focus. How do we decide which instruments will not be taught in any one year?

We hope this overview gives you a sense of the work that the Programming Committee does, and the challenges they face. We welcome your feedback and thoughts.