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Steve Kiviat missed the point in “What’s WAMA Worth?” (10/2). He mentions volunteers only twice, showing that he doesn’t understand the workings of the Washington Area Music Association.
WAMA is a membership organization run almost completely on volunteer power. Its annual Crosstown Jam is planned by a committee of volunteers who call bands and clubs to see who’s interested in participating. Schedule conflicts cause some to decline an invitation, sometimes the very bands and clubs that Kiviat would like to see highlighted. The Jam is only as good as the people who choose to participate, hut perhaps some are ill-informed about WAMA. Maybe that’s due in part the City Paper’s scaled-back local music coverage.
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Kiviat’s statement that the Jam and WAMA lose money is not news. In fact, many local music organizations are losing money as a direct result of their lack of volunteers. (There’s the V-word again.) Jam losses also reflect declining attendance at area clubs, and even if Kiviat’s favorite clubs are thriving, others are rapidly closing.
Kiviat can’t make up his mind, either. He says the Washington Area Music Awards (Wammies) don’t reflect “critical and community consensus” but criticizes the first awards in 1985, when local band Downtown won honors because their fans voted in droves. Which way does Kiviat want it? The public voted in the awards in 1985, but now only members vote in the Wammies, and most members are musicians. As a WAMA member, I’m deeply offended by Kiviat’s assertion that the Wammies are a “petting zoo.”
Since Kiviat is concerned about presenting variety in the Crosstown Jam, his insight would he valuable if he’d like to volunteer on the next Jam committee. He’s also correct that WAMA’s outreach needs improvement. Since he so publicly pointed this out, I think be should lead the effort.
I suggest that the editors assign Kiviat the task of compiling a weekly newsbrief covering news of WAMA and other area organizations. In this way, Kiviat and the City Paper can present a realistic picture of D.C.’s music scene while informing local players of new opportunities.
I look forward to meeting Kiviat at a WAMA meeting very soon. Tell him to pencil in Wednesdays.