The past month has been a slower month than usual, so I don’t have as much to report. But it is always good to keep in touch, and update you on what we can.
Festival planning for this summer’s festival in Bowling Green continues onward. While Kim Laird is working tirelessly already on tidying up details, she has also brought a few volunteers on board. Warren Hammond will be running the Fun Fund Committee for this year, after participating as a member for the previous two years. He has earmarked a group of individuals to participate in that committee, and they are already checking in and beginning brainstorming. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the “Fun Fund”, in 2010 we received a very generous anonymous donation from our benefactor known as “iiwii”. The terms of that donation were spelled out, and part of what was indicated was that each year $20,000 of the donation was to be spent to make the festival more fun. The Fun Fund committee is tasked with deciding how to spend that money; I participated in the 2011 Fun Fund committee, and it was actually my first experience volunteering for the IJA. And now I’m writing to you as the chair… We had planned on opening early registration for the festival on November 15th. The observant amongst you noticed that didn’t happen as planned. But we do hope to still have registration opened soon at our new, lowest price; well in time for people to purchase festival packages as holiday gifts.
In 2011, the Fun Fund project I worked on was the Busking Competition. Based on post-festival surveys, this was a very popular addition to the fest, and in 2013 there are plans to bring it back! Laura Ernst has been chosen to organize and run the competition this year. The nine acts (including Laura) who competed in 2011 put on an amazing show; I’m looking forward to seeing what the competition brings us this year.
Another addition to this year’s festival should be the addition of Open Stage shows. This has been discussed and desired for some time, but planning is underway to make this actually happen in Bowling Green. Preliminary plans would be to have multiple Open Stage shows; stay tuned. I’m excited to give a wider set of performers a chance to demonstrate what they’ve been working on, and to give our attendees even more incredible juggling to watch.
The news hasn’t all been about Bowling Green. Chile just hosted the second IJA regional competition, or IRC, and the Brazil hosted the third. Congrats to Carlos Muñoz, who won 1st place in Chile, and Franklin Chávez Prado of Peru, who won 1st place in Brazil! If all goes as planned, Carlos and Franklin will be joining us in Bowling Green to show our largely American audience how it is done in South America. They will perform and/or compete. I love seeing this sort of cross-pollination of juggling information and talent. It can be tricky to figure out how to do it at times, but we really do want to emphasize the “I” in IJA. These competitions are proving to be a great step in that direction.
The influence of YEP, our Youth Education Program, continues to spread. The long successful Boulder pod of YEP is still going strong, and recently purchased a giraffe unicycle for their students. I continue to teach a group of students in California with the help of Kyle Johnson; for the first time we have more girl students than boys, which is a great development. Erin Stephens will be starting up a new YEP pod elsewhere in California with the help of Kevin Axtell. And congrats to Laura Bosken and Tony Steinbach, who recently started a new pod after taking the YEP training at the 2012 festival in Winston-Salem. If you’ve ever thought about teaching juggling to children, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is incredibly rewarding and invigorating. And if you’re thinking about it, the YEP training at the 2013 festival will be a great resource to learn from people who have done it before, and network with others who are teaching kids to share tips, stories, and experiences.
I would like to welcome Flying Clipper to our Vendor Discount Program for members! For anyone who missed the initial announcement, our members are eligible for discounts and special offers from a variety of vendors; the details can be seen here. Flying Clipper becomes the seventh vendor participating in the program, and we hope to add more in the future.
Last but not least, I’ll briefly climb up on my soapbox to remind everyone that the IJA is an organization fueled by volunteers. Projects like YEP, the IRC competitions, the festival, and even eJuggle, only happen because people step up to put their time and energy behind something they enjoy and believe in. If you like what you see in the IJA, or have new ideas for other ways to help the organization and juggling grow, don’t be afraid to get involved! We’d love to hear from you. The more the merrier…