I read an interesting blog post from Oct. 2012 by Clinton Detweiler.
For those of you who don’t know about Clinton, he and his wife Adelia purchased Maher Studios from Madeline Maher (wife of Fred) and ran the business for many years. Clinton was responsible for helping so many learn our art. A true inspiration. He passed away in early 2013. Clinton will forever be missed.
Back to the post.
In the post, he was asked about the possibility of reviving the N.A.A.V. The North American Association of Ventriloquists.
Clinton responded that while he was with them in spirit, it just didn’t make sense.
At one time the N.A.A.V. had between 2,500 and 2,750 members. WOW!
He claimed the Newsy Vent newsletter had double that in readership.
Clinton then wrote:
Then came the Internet. More and more people chose this new, faster, cheaper way to connect and chose not to renew their NAAV memberships. Finding new members/subscribers for the NAAV and Newsy Vents was increasingly difficult. At the same time, printing and postage costs doubled. I had to reimburse more and more of the costs myself.
I decided when membership fell below 1,000 I would disband the organization. That happened in 2004.
I continued to publish the Newsy Vents through 2005, paying full costs myself. Then I dropped the printed/mailed version and switched to my daily on-line blog.
I loved the old days which provided hundreds of great memories. But I have no desire to go back – too costly and too frustrating from my perspective.
Around that time, I saw several other vents lamenting there was no organization for our art. All fell by the wayside. Always for lack of support.
When Mark, Ken & I re-opened Maher Studios, we decided to revamp the NAAV as an international organization. We created the International Ventriloquist Society – or IVS.
We started accepting members in November 2013. Here we are, a bit over 4 years later. At the time this blog was written (and I do these in advance) we had just over 430 names on the roll. But that doesn’t mean we have 430 members. We actually have about 300.
Each year, some would drop out. They kept forgetting to read the Spotlights online. It wasn’t worth the effort or expense to them.
When Mark & Ken stepped down, I heard from many people who decided not to renew because with just me, it wouldn’t be worth it. (I didn’t take it personally, they just didn’t have the faith I did.)
By the time the March 2017 issue came out, I had increased the size, number of contributors and created a downloadable PDF that could be read offline. (Videos still need to be viewed on the site.)
I added a Members Profile Directory so members could connect with other members.
I also created the Online Ventriloquist Directory which allows members to upload a picture and information on their show. It is free to members and I have heard from a couple that have booked shows as a result of being listed.
We have added new members. And again, we have lost members who decided not to renew.
So how can we grow? We need your support!
If you are an IVS member – talk to your ventriloquist friends. Find out who is and who isn’t a member. If they are not, ask why. Let me know their answer. It will help me to fashion a stronger appeal to our brethren. (And encourage them to give it a try!)
Share news about the IVS. Tell people about the articles, the videos and let them know when your news is shared in an issue.
If you aren’t a member, consider joining. Each issue of the Spotlight offers tips, suggestions, ideas and support. Being a member of the International Ventriloquist Society offers you a prestige respected by others. You aren’t just someone who talks to himself. You are a member of the same organization as Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Jay Johnson, Paul Zerdin, David Strassman and other legends of our art.
I’d love to have 1,000 members. And I believe we can get there. At least, I hope.