Open Letter to IASPM-US members (and any anyone who might be curious)


Dear IASPM-US members,

I offer here not only a report from the conference, but also a call to action. I hope you’ll read to the end, because IASPM needs you.

At the Board / Executive Committee held this past weekend in Calgary, I presented a Committee Initiative to address what our president, Mark Butler, and I see as a serious decline in IASPM membership numbers and conference participation. For reference: our current membership is 142, down from over 400 in 2009. And at the annual conference this year, even though we met jointly with the Canadian branch, we had record low attendance numbers. We do realize that getting to Calgary was complicated and expensive. We’re hoping we can draw a much bigger crowd to Cleveland next year!

Our goals for this Committee Initiative are as follows: we want to increase ownership of the society; reach out to lost members; grow our membership; provide more opportunities for members who would like greater involvement; and shore up our Society’s infrastructure to provide continuous leadership and institutional knowledge. Between Board / EC members who were present at the meeting and some who voted by email, this initiative passed. I then presented the Committee Initiative at the business meeting.

Here’s the summary: in the bylaws, we currently have only 1 defined standing committee to do the work of the society. With this initiative we will establish 5 new standing committees (see below for descriptions), as well as re-organize 2 existing association committees into permanent, standing committees. We’d also like to encourage the development of Interest Groups, but that’s another step in the process; we’ll move on to that after solving the committee issue.

Over the next year, the Board of Directors and Executive Committee will work on language to add to the bylaws that will define each committee, its mandate, and details about planned staffing and rotation. Our goal is to have this language ready in time to put to the membership at our next national meeting. At that point the committees can become permanent.

Our new standing committees, along with a very brief description of their initial charges, are listed below. In order to make this work, we need your help. Please consider volunteering for one or more of these committees. Self-nomination is ideal, but feel free to also nominate a highly qualified friend. At this point we would like to have sufficient volunteers to staff not only immediate needs, but also to plan for rotation in the next few years. I’ve already compiled a list of volunteers from the business meeting, but we want to give all members a chance to weigh in before composing the committees.

The new committees are as follows. Typical terms will be 3 years (note exceptions below), and we’ll rotate so there’s always at least one experienced member on the committee. Please read the descriptions carefully.


  • Description: The Nomination committee will be responsible for identifying and vetting potential members of all committees and candidates to run for the Board and EC and then communicating with the Board and EC about the potential candidates.
  • Need: 4-5 members now; additional for future rotation


  • Description: This committee will be tasked with growing our membership and improving communications methods both within the society and between the society and the general public. Members with PR and marketing experience are especially coveted for this committee.
  • Need: 4-5 members now; additional for future rotation


  • Description: This committee will ultimately oversee all IASPM-US publications, but our most pressing need is to seek a new publisher for our journal and facilitate the move.
  • Need: at least 4-5 members now; additional for future rotation


  • Description: This committee will identify sites for future conferences (3-4 years in advance) and work with local arrangements hosts to solidify conference details.
  • Need: 5 members now; additional for future rotation


  • Description: This committee will oversee our two Society awards and any awards the Society may create in the future.
  • Need: 6 members now (3 for each award); additional for future rotation


  • Description: This committee will oversee the development of the annual conference program.
  • Need: 5 members now for next year’s program; additional for future rotation. Typical service on the program committee will be one year, but some members may be asked to stay for a second year in order to chair the committee and thus preserve committee knowledge.


  • Description: long-time members might remember that this was previously an Association committee. The EC and Board agree that diversity and inclusion should be central missions of our society (and of every academic society), so we voted to make this permanent. We do want to expand the vision and think about diversity and inclusion in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and disability.
  • Need: 4-5 members now; additional for future rotation


If you have interest in serving on any of these committees, please send Felicia Miyakawa a message at FMMiyakawa at gmail dot com. Members of the Board and the EC will formulate the first committees from lists of volunteers. After this first round, the Nominating Committee will take over the task of identifying potential committee members.


And, finally, about the Interest Groups:

Our website currently lists four association committees: (1) the Program committee (which will now be a standing committee); (2) the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (which will also now be a standing committee); (3) the Popular Music Pedagogy Committee; and (4) the Ethnic Studies committee. The latter two committees have not been active in a few years, and when they have been active, they have functioned more like Interest Groups. These committees have promoted scholarship and conversation around particular topics, rather than doing the daily work of committees. We would like to encourage the development of Interest Groups, but believe this should be done organically; it’s better for members to band together to propose an Interest group to the Board and EC than for the society leadership to decree the existence of an Interest Group. Our plan is to also work on language to better define Interest Groups, and to provide space in conference programs for these groups to share research or sponsor speakers. For now: if you have interest in being part of either a Popular Music Pedagogy Interest Group or an Ethnic Studies Interest Group please let me know.

We hope that this re-organization project will have positive long-term effects, and will re-stabilize IASPM-US. If you have any questions, please let me know.


Best wishes to all,

Felicia Miyakawa

Vice President, IASPM-US


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s