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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Tom Bliss A Mockery (BBC Folk Awards 2009) (179* d) RE: A Mockery (BBC Folk Awards 2009) 29 Nov 09

I think I'd better chip in with a quick pre-emptive here.

As Paul probably knows, but has been tactful enough not to mention, the album 'missed off' the Infamous List last year was The Whisper by Tom Bliss.

I may have misunderstood his post, but Paul seems to imply that this suggests the existence of an approved list of 'worthy' artists, to which, in theory, I belonged - but from which I had been omitted in error.

In fact what happened was that The Whisper was released, after a mad scramble (I had terrifying health problems during the production) right at the end if October - JUST in time to be eligible for consideration by last year's panel. But no sooner had it hit the shops than I discovered to my dismay that the list is habitually sent out a week or so early - to give panellists some thinking time before the 31st October deadline. So The Whisper was not on it. I expressed my disappointment to Smoops (this 'black hole' has never been advertised), and to my surprise they very kindly sent out the list again with The Whisper included. Obviously this shouldn't have happened, and it does point up some problems with their system, but they are not necessarily the ones Paul suggests.

I have in fact frequently publicly and privately criticised the Infamous List. It's flawed - or has been in the past (I don't know what happened this year) - in three ways:

1) If the panel are 'experts' they perhaps shouldn't need any 'reminder' list at all.

2) If they do need such a list (and I think they do for the reason claimed), it must, to be in step with the BBC's own rules, be fair - i.e. comprehensive by some understandable, reasonable and universal criteria (I've suggested various ways in which this could be achieved, but Smoops have not responded).

3) Such criteria for inclusion that HAVE been published by Smoops have been inconsistent. The email that accompanies the list has implied that only albums featured on the MH show are eligible, whereas the Website suggests that the list is an attempt to represent all 'Folk' albums released in the qualifying period. This alone in enough to set hares running (oops - did I mention that animal again), and does nothing to reduce suspicion and confusion.

Many of the problems associated with the Awards are caused by wooly and muddled writing in emails, rules and website, which encourage people to grab the wrong end of the stick, and also lead to 'incorrect' decisions by the panellists. Most of the rest of the problems are caused by the maths. Again there are solutions which could overtly give Smoops the powers they need to deliver the necessary show on the night, while being more open, democratic and fair to the folk industry. But as long as the BBC think it ain't broke it won't get fixed.

As for Paul's numbered points - I'm not sure what you're saying here Paul.

Are you suggesting that winning an award doesn't actually make all that much difference to an artist's place in the packing order? If so - you're probably right, but as I explained in February that's not what the awards are about.

Are you suggesting that a award winner might now command a higher fee, and that this might be misplaced if they do not contribute in other ways to the festival? If so, then I'd suggest you are missing the point of headliners. The are booked purely to maximise the gate - and, in the absence of much else that can deliver increased public profile, an award should at least help with that. It's down to the likes of you and I to provide the rest, and we are/were happy to do it.

I would, however, be interested to know why you have not been included in the panel this year. My reading of the situation is that on the whole those who question the process politely and positively are welcomed, not rejected (though I never did get the invite to the show that JL promised me)!


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