The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention is a cultural exchange and meeting place for artists, academics, and enthusiasts.
At its heart is a convention that brings together scholars, practitioners, teachers and other stakeholders to share ideas, practices, research and knowledge about the field of fiddle performance and related dance, from the cultures and diasporas of the North Atlantic region.
Uniquely structured, NAFCo combines a festival with an academic conference, featuring interactive workshops, concerts, interviews, public lectures, academic papers, busking, and live-music sessions in pubs.
Its genius is that it is both academic conference and folk festival.
Ken Perlman, Journal of American Folklore, Summer 2014
How often at a scholarly gathering dedicated to folk, ethnic or traditional music, have the participants burst out of their academic straitjackets, deserted their ivory towers, and shared with others, late into the night, the music that has encouraged them to pursue a lifetime of study? And how often at a folk or world music festival have participants debated into the small hours the merits and demerits of a particularly innovative act in terms of authenticity and traditionality? This thinking helped forge the idea behind NAFCo, thereby bringing together two sides of the same coin, those who practice fiddle music and those who preach it.
Ian Russell and Mary Anne Alburger, ‘Connecting Cultures’ in Driving the Bow
The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo) was established by Ian Russell in 2001 to develop new audiences for traditional music and dance, and to act as a cultural, artistic exchange and meeting place for artists, academics, and enthusiasts. NAFCo is innovative, not just for offering performances and workshops to the public, but for presenting distinctive learning opportunities for all ages in traditional music and dance based around the North Atlantic seaboard.
The Convention has been held six times to date – in Aberdeen in 2001, 2006, and 2010 hosted by the Elphinstone Institute of the University of Aberdeen (directed by Ian Russell); in St. John’s Newfoundland in 2008, hosted by the Centre for Music, Media and Place, and the Department of Folklore, Memorial University (directed by Anna Kearney Guigné); in Derry/Londonderry in 2012, hosted by the School of Creative Arts, University of Ulster (directed by Liz Doherty); and in 2015 in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia hosted by the Department of History and Culture, Cape Breton University and the Celtic Colours Festival (directed by Heather Spalding and Joella Foulds). In 2018, 11-15 July, NAFCo will return to its founding home in Aberdeen.
The fiddle has been the most popular vernacular instrument across Europe and North America for over 300 years. However, studies of it and its associated dance forms tend to be scattered across specialist books, theses, and articles, so NAFCo provides a unique forum in which to deepen and integrate conversations about fiddling and dance, allowing scholars and practitioners to develop themes, issues, and methodological enquiries. In this way NAFCo helps develop research networks.
Whereas scholarship describes music and dance through language, music and dance as such are not linguistically based, and the value of seeing, hearing, and participating in such events offers an essential insight into these expressive forms. NAFCo not only provides a forum for presenting existing research, but acts as a catalyst for conducting new and ongoing research. NAFCo allows performers to discover what research is being conducted in their traditions, and how it might inform their practice. NAFCo allows scholars from diverse backgrounds to deepen their understanding of performance and creates opportunities for building relationships with performer consultants.
NAFCo is a formally constituted organisation with its home base being the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen. Emeritus Professor Ian Russell of the Elphinstone Institute is the current President of NAFCo.
NAFCo Constitution - March 2011
1.1 The NAME of the association shall be THE NORTH ATLANTIC FIDDLE CONVENTION (also to be known as NAFCo).
1.2 DEFINITIONS: 'North Atlantic' refers to the region of geographic, political and cultural entities that have borders with or access to the North Atlantic Ocean.
1.3 MEMBERS from outside this region may be part of the organisation no matter where they live, if (a) their studies or performance interests lie in this region, or (b) their professional interests are within this region.
1.4 The LANGUAGE for NAFCo official purposes shall be English.
1.5 The term FIDDLE is used in its widest sense and includes other instruments that play with or accompany fiddles as well as dance activities associated with fiddle music.
2 AIMS AND OBJECTS:
AIMS AND OBJECTS are to promote the study and performance of fiddle traditions and associated dance in all its aspects by:
(a) the holding of regular Conventions comprising academic proceedings, artistic performances, educational workshops, and other associated activities;
(b) the publication of the conference proceedings;
(c) the issue of and participation in any other form of publication, including broadcasting, film, video- and sound-recordings;
(d) the encouragement of interchange between scholarship, artistic performance and teaching;
(e) the encouragement of national and international exchanges;
(f) co-operation in programmes of cultural development and/or maintenance initiated in the region;
(g) co-operation and collaboration with other organisations or individuals sharing these aims;
(h) There is an understanding that as the founding organisation of NAFCo, the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen is its ‘home base’, and that a member or representative of the Institute is a member of the SECRETARIAT. The Elphinstone Institute shall act as the keeper of minutes, reports and other significant documentation.
3.1 Applications for membership of NAFCo shall be made to the Secretariat and placed in one of the following categories:
(a) ORDINARY MEMBERS, being individuals who support the aims of NAFCo;
(b) STUDENT MEMBERS, being those who support the aims of NAFCo, and are in full or part-time education, limited to a period no longer than five years;
(c) HONORARY LIFE MEMBERS, being those who support the aims of NAFCo, have had a distinguished career, and who are elected as such at a NAFCo General Meeting;
(d) INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS, being bodies or entities corresponding with NAFCo aims.
3.2.1 Membership in the categories above will not be valid without ‘Good Standing’, except for Honorary Life Members. ‘Good Standing’ means that subscriptions have been paid up to date in the calendar year or as determined by the Secretariat.
3.2.2 VOTING RIGHTS are restricted to members in Good Standing.
3.2.3 PROXY VOTING may be assigned from one member in good standing to one other in General Meetings and at the Executive (the Co-ordinating Committee) deliberations.
4.1 The management of NAFCo business shall be conducted by the Secretariat of the Executive, with the Secretariat directly responsible to the Executive, and the Executive to the General Meeting of NAFCo.
The Secretariat shall consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Convenor of the forthcoming Convention (who shall also be an ex officio member of the EXECUTIVE), and the member or representative of the Elphinstone Institute as provided in clause 2(h) (unless that person is already a member of the Secretariat by virtue of holding one of the aforesaid offices). The Secretariat shall be responsible for the general business of NAFCo and shall be empowered to take decisions on behalf of the Executive, provided that these decisions are unanimous. Should the Secretariat be unable to reach a unanimous decision, a meeting of the Executive must be convened.
4.2.1 The PRESIDENT shall be elected at each General Meeting and may hold office for a term of up to four years, and may be re-elected to hold office for one additional term of four years. The President shall make a report on past activities to each General Meeting of NAFCo.
4.2.2 The VICE-PRESIDENT shall be elected at a General Meeting of NAFCo, may hold office for a term of up to four years, and may be re-elected to hold office for one additional term of four years.
4.2.3 The SECRETARY shall be elected at a General Meeting of NAFCo and may hold office for a term of up to four years, and may be re-elected to hold office for additional terms. The Secretary shall conduct the business affairs of NAFCo, maintain the record of membership and correspondence, and present a report to each General Meeting of NAFCo. The Secretary shall establish the dates and places of each NAFCo meeting by agreement with the Secretariat, and notify the whole NAFCo membership in advance by means of letter or bulletin.
4.2.4 The TREASURER shall be elected at a General Meeting of NAFCo and may hold office for a term of up to four years, and may be re-elected to hold office for additional terms. The Treasurer shall control the finances of NAFCo and shall present a set of accounts audited by two other members agreed by the EXECUTIVE, but not being members of the EXECUTIVE, to each General Meeting of NAFCo.
4.2.5 The CONVENOR OF THE CONVENTION shall be appointed with the choice of the succeeding Convention, to be responsible for that Convention and for the PROGRAMME COMMITTEE, and to act as the Chairperson of that Convention, and to hold office until the conclusion of that Convention.
4.3 THE EXECUTIVE:
4.3.1 The EXECUTIVE shall consist of the SECRETARIAT plus ordinary members such that the total number of the EXECUTIVE shall not exceed eleven. A quorum at its meetings shall be five and must include two who are not members of the Secretariat.
4.3.2 The ordinary members of the EXECUTIVE shall be elected at a General Meeting of NAFCo after the members of the Secretariat have been elected and shall serve for a term of up to four years and may be re-elected for additional terms.
4.3.3 The EXECUTIVE shall have powers to co-opt to its membership up to the number specified in 4.3.1 above and taking account of 4.2. It shall also have power to designate any member to hold any office until the next General Meeting.
220.127.116.11 The outgoing president of NAFCo will automatically (ex officio) become a supernumerary EXECUTIVE member for one year (without right to vote).
4.3.4 Any four members of the EXECUTIVE may require the Secretary to convene a meeting of the EXECUTIVE, and he/she will then do so as speedily as possible and certainly within two months.
4.3.5 Meetings of the EXECUTIVE may be conducted as ‘virtual meetings’, via teleconferencing, video-conferencing or web-conferencing as appropriate.
4.3.6 If in any year a General Meeting of NAFCo is not held, all members of the EXECUTIVE, including any members of the Secretariat whose term of office should conclude in that year, shall remain in office until the next General Meeting.
5 NAFCo CONVENTIONS:
5.1 A NAFCo Convention shall be the occasion of a General Meeting of NAFCo, providing that general meetings shall, in any event, be held at intervals of not more than four years. Offers to host future CONVENTIONS will be presented for approval at a General Meeting of NAFCo and be subsequently ratified by the Executive.
5.2 Each CONVENTION will be self-financing and will not draw on NAFCo central funds. The responsibility for this lies with the CONVENOR OF THE CONVENTION and the PROGRAMME COMMITTEE.
5.3 For each CONVENTION a separate PROGRAMME COMMITTEE will be appointed by the CONVENOR on an ad hoc basis to reflect local interests, expertise, and stakeholders. The duration of office of this committee will be solely for the planning, enactment and winding up of the relevant CONVENTION.
5.4 With the approval of a General Meeting of NAFCo, regional groups may be formed under the name of NAFCo from members in Good Standing to hold REGIONAL CONVENTIONS, such groups to be managed autonomously. They shall be required to present reports on their activities to each General Meeting of NAFCo and to receive endorsement of the right to continue to describe themselves as part of NAFCo.
5.5 With the approval of a General Meeting of NAFCo, interest groups may be formed under the name of NAFCo from members in Good Standing to hold INTEREST MEETINGS, such groups to be managed autonomously. They shall be required to present reports on their activities to each General Meeting of NAFCo and to receive endorsement of the right to continue to describe themselves as part of NAFCo.
NAFCo shall be financed from members' subscriptions (except that Honorary Life Members and such others as may be approved by the Secretariat from time to time shall not be required to subscribe), the amounts to be determined by the EXECUTIVE and to be ratified at the next General Meeting of NAFCo before being applied. Subsidies, endowments, donations and grants shall be receivable by the Treasurer and applied to the aims of NAFCo as a ‘not for profit’ organisation.
7 WINDING UP:
In the event of the dissolution of NAFCo, a General Meeting of NAFCo, or failing that of the EXECUTIVE, will designate the placement of NAFCo assets (financial, archival, or other) with one or more organisations with similar aims.
8 ALTERATIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION:
Proposed changes to this Constitution must be sent to the Secretary, with the signatures of the proposer and seconder, at least one month prior to a General Meeting of NAFCo, for prior publication to the membership and placement on the agenda. A two-thirds majority of all those members in Good Standing present at the meeting shall be required for any change to the Constitution to be passed. Postal votes and proxies from absent members in Good Standing will be valid for any such voting, and must be tabled at the opening of the relevant General Meeting of NAFCo.
The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention
c/o The Elphinstone Institute
University of Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272386
Dr Ian Russell
Professor Emeritus, Elphinstone Institute
Founder and Current President of NAFCo