Update as of October 12, 2021

2022 IMPORTANT UPDATES AND CHANGES
After last night’s Zoom Q&A with ICCA groups and ICHSA directors, in consideration of your feedback, and after evaluating best practices for mitigating COVID spread currently being implemented for interscholastic fine arts and athletic events at the high school and college level, we are announcing some changes to our upcoming 2022 season.

In light of the following changes, we are extending the deadline to apply to ICCA and ICHSA until November 1.

ICHSA: For all ICHSA events except finals, Varsity Vocals will not require a vaccine or negative covid test for participants or audiences. We will, however, enforce mask-wearing in the venue at all times, including when performers are on stage. We have adapted this policy in deference to the vast majority of high schools across the country, which require masks at all times for indoor athletic and fine arts performances but will not allow us to hold an event if we want to require vaccines or testing.

ICHSA Finals are scheduled for April 22 at Town Hall Theater in New York City, which requires vaccines. To date, it has not been possible to find a viable alternative, though we continue to look. If you advance to finals but cannot comply, you may withdraw without penalty. Obviously this would be a disappointment, but we hope it will not prevent groups from participating.

Read below for details about a virtual participation option in the ICHSA.

ICCA: We will require a vaccine or negative test whenever possible and practical, according to local mandates. There are several parts of the country where venues require vaccines/testing, and we will implement these policies there happily. In those cases, performers can be unmasked while on stage. However, for venues that will not host us if we require vaccines, then we will not require vaccines/testing; we will require masks be worn at all times by all participants, including on stage.

ICCA Semifinals: Many professional venues where we hold semifinals require vaccines/testing. ICCA competitors who anticipate advancing to semifinals should enter competition prepared to comply with a vaccine/testing requirement, just in case. If a live ICCA competitor chooses not to live semifinals because that semifinal venue requires masks/vaccines, they will be invited to compete in a virtual semifinal round, where they will be against semifinalists from other ICCA regions (in the style of our Wild Card round).

ICCA Finals: Finals are scheduled for April 23 at Town Hall Theater, in New York City, which requires vaccines. If you advance to finals but cannot comply, you may withdraw without penalty. Obviously this would be a disappointment, but we hope it will not prevent groups from participating. 

We will offer a virtual quarterfinal and semifinal option in every region of the ICCA & ICHSA, for those who wish to participate in this way. Virtual ICHSA competitors will advance to a virtual semifinal, where they compete against virtual semifinalists from all other regions. Virtual ICCA competitors who advance to semifinals will have the option of either (a) participating in the live semifinal (which may have a vaccine/testing mandate, whereas the quarterfinal did not, thus making them comfortable enough to compete live), or (b) entering a virtual semifinal open to all virtual semifinalists from all regions. Likewise, live ICCA competitors who cannot advance to their live semifinal because they cannot comply with the semifinals venue’s vaccine/testing requirement may switch to the virtual semifinal.

It bears saying that while we at Varsity Vocals don’t necessarily agree with these new measures, we also don’t want so many students to lose their opportunity to compete because our policies are more stringent than what has safely been implemented at the local level. Ultimately, we anticipate that all live shows this year will be poorly attended, which presents a significant financial challenge for our programming. However, we’d rather err on the side of giving groups the opportunity to participate — following appropriate safety practices in that locality — than prevent groups from participating because our policies are too strict for the majority to comply with.

Varsity Vocals reserves the right to convert a live event to a virtual event at any time, should regional circumstances or incidences of COVID change. Overall, our effort here is to operate within reasonable, safe parameters in order to provide as valuable and robust an experience as possible, despite these difficult circumstances.

SUMMARY
ICHSA: No vaccine/testing requirement. Masks will be required at all times, even on stage. If you prefer to compete virtually, you may participate in a virtual quarterfinal in your region, and the semifinal will be virtual combining all regions.
ICCA: Many venues will have a vaccine/testing requirement, and masks will be required at all times except when onstage. Some venues permit masking only; at those events, we will require masks at all times, even on stage. If you prefer to compete virtually, you may participate in a virtual quarterfinal in your region, and the semifinal will be virtual combining all regions.

Q: How do I know if we’ll be virtual or live?
A:
On your application, you can indicate whether you will compete in quarterfinals (a) virtual only, (b) live and can comply with vaccine/testing requirements or (c) live but can’t comply with vaccine/testing requirements. We will place you in quarterfinals accordingly. However, for the ICCA, if your semifinal venue requires vaccine/negative test, we will not switch your region; instead, you can opt to either comply with the vaccine/testing requirement or opt to participate in a virtual semifinal, where you will compete with virtual semifinalists from other regions. (For the ICHSA, option b will be largely irrelevant, as all venues will be fully masked but will not require vaccines/testing.)

Q: When will my quarterfinals and semifinals be? For ICCA, will my event have a vaccine/testing requirement?
A:
We likely don’t have a firm date. Many venues are not booking spring dates, as they wait to see what happens with COVID this fall. We are penciled in many places, and we anticipate having more dates become firm now that we have dropped our vaccine/testing requirement in most places. We will be putting those dates on our website as they are confirmed, and if a vaccine/testing order is in place at that venue, we will include that information.

Q: Will the tournament be roughly the same time frame as usual?
A:
Yes. Quarterfinals begin end of January and run until early March the latest, on Saturdays as often as possible but occasionally on a Friday or Sunday. Semifinals will be end of March, and finals are April 22 and 23.

Q: What do you mean by vaccine/testing requirement?
A: 
Entry to events with a vaccine/testing requirement will require either (a) a COVID vaccine card or (b) a negative COVID test. All events with a vaccine/testing requirement will still require masks at all times except on stage or when eating or drinking.

Q: What will the virtual rounds be like?
A: 
Groups competing virtually will have a deadline in early to mid-February to submit a single camera, unedited video of their 10-minute competition set. Mics and lighting may be used, but you may not use any form of editing or post production. We will offer a livestream viewing of virtual sets that ends in an announcement of the results. Groups advancing from virtual quarterfinals may opt to participate in their region’s live semifinal if they so choose, or they will be entered into a virtual semifinal round, which will pull semifinalists from across all regions. The number of those groups who advance to finals will depend on number of entries in the virtual rounds and the number of ICHSA regions we have. (We cannot have more than 10 ICHSA Finalists in the end.)

Q: We already applied, do we have to do anything?
A: 
No, you are all set. If your interest in performing in our tournament has changed in light of these loosened protocols (ie you’d rather not compete at all, or you’d like to switch to full virtual), please email [email protected]

Q: We want to participate now but worry our audition video won’t be very good. What do we do?
A: 
Apply anyway, do the best you can with a video, and email us to let us know your situation. We are changing things here so we can be as inclusive as possible, and we’ll work with you to ensure you can participate if you want to! We know everyone has been in a challenging situation.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact [email protected] Check this page frequently for updates to our FAQs as well.

Remember, the deadline to audition for the 2022 ICCA and ICHSA tournaments has been extended to November 1.

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Update as of September 22, 2021

2022 ICCA & ICHSA APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN
Applications to the 2022 Varsity Vocals season are now available! Visit our application page to submit your application form, audition video, and entry fee. Applications are due October 15 for US/Canada, November 15 for UK.

Please review our competition rules and application policies for answers to most of your questions. We have made a modest increase in our entry fees to $300 per group, and we hope this will be met with understanding. For most groups, this entry fee is still a very low $20 or less per student.

NEW! TEN MINUTE SETS
Competition sets this year are limited to TEN MINUTES. We have made this change to accommodate our 2022 covid protocols, such as checking vaccine status upon entry and cleaning mics between sets. Please plan your competition sets accordingly.

LIVE VS. VIRTUAL
Please read our most recent update below for information about changes to our tournament as we react to the covid landscape across the country. For example, most Florida, Texas, and Arizona events will be fully virtual; in other areas, we will offer a mix of live and virtual events, with live events requiring adherence for all participants and audiences to our 2022 Covid Protocols. You will have an opportunity on your application to indicate how you can compete this year. If you have any questions, you can reach us at [email protected].

Please note: virtual competition this year will mean submitting a standard 10-minute competition set, unedited and filmed live.

IMPORTANT DATES
NOV 15 – competitor lineup announced
TBD – dates of most of our live events. Please bear with us, as many theaters aren’t yet opening their books for second semester. We will post event dates on our website as soon as they are available.
JAN 15 – tickets on sale to live events

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Update as of August 31, 2021

2022 ICCA & ICHSA SEASON

The 2022 Varsity Vocals live competition season will still be a fully vaccinated tournament (with certain exceptions permitted with a negative COVID test. See our 2022 COVID policies for more details).

However, in an effort to best accommodate as many groups as possible, our ICCA and ICHSA tournaments will both be hybrid, with virtual elements, depending on tournament, regional restrictions, and time of year. Our intention is to have as many live events as possible, and we will continue to make adjustments throughout the season in order to do so. Please check back here frequently for updates, follow us on social media @varsityvocals on all platforms, and sign up for our mailing list.

ICHSA:

Most ICHSA Quarterfinals will now be fully virtual

We understand many high school groups are prohibited from participating if there is a vaccine requirement, even if competitors are simply asked to provide a negative covid test. Additionally, many high school venues will not host us if we require a vaccine or testing.

However, we will not hold a live ICHSA event unless we can have a vaccine/testing requirement for the audience at minimum. Therefore, we anticipate that most ICHSA quarterfinals and semifinals will be fully virtual nationwide, unfortunately.

In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where vaccination rates are higher, we are hoping to be able to hold at least some live quarterfinals, with vaccine and masking requirements. We will also have virtual quarterfinals for those who cannot participate in a live event with those requirements. In the Midwest and Great Lakes, where most schools are unwilling to ask students to bring proof of vaccine or get tested before participating, it looks like all quarterfinals will be virtual. In the South and Southwest, where it is illegal to require masks or vaccines/testing, all quarterfinals will be virtual.

We are penciling in reservations at venues for live events at the quarterfinal and especially at the semifinals level, however, in the hopes that schools will change their policies in the coming weeks, now that the vaccine is FDA approved. We will pivot to live events if restrictions are lifted or high school requirements change. We are very optimistic that we will be able to hold all ICHSA semifinals live; however, we will operate under best practices at that time, and in communication with directors to be certain we are accommodating what will best serve that region’s competitors’ needs and preferences.

For groups from these states who are able to comply with the vaccination policy and are willing to travel out of state to compete, we will do our best to accommodate you, but we can’t make any promises. It’s difficult to hold an event in Georgia with mostly Florida competitors, as we need to consider who will attend (and therefore offset costs for) these events. However, if we have an event in Georgia with adequate Georgia competitors and room to add several Florida competitors who are able to comply with the vaccine/masking policy, we will absolutely add you to that event. We will ask about your ability to comply with vaccine/masking policy as part of the application process.

Please note that at present, finals will be held at Town Hall in New York, which requires all performers and audiences to be vaccinated, without exception. We are looking for a possible alternative venue. We also hope that come April, vaccines will be required nationwide for high school students and this will be a non-issue. If it remains an event-stopping issue, however, we will move finals to a new venue (which permits vaccine exemptions with testing) or virtual.

More details to follow on what virtual events will look like. However, groups should plan to record and perform a full set in person (with each other) to submit to us for inclusion in the virtual events. Deadlines for virtual events and details on how to watch will be available after groups apply and are accepted into competition.

ICCA

Most ICCA Quarterfinals and Semifinals will be live and fully vaccinated (with testing exceptions), except in a few locations

We are planning a (mostly) live tournament for the ICCA, with a vaccine requirement for all participants and audiences (see our 2022 COVID policy for more details, including exemptions with testing).  We ask for ICCA competitors and audiences to be as patient as possible with event scheduling, with the understanding that many venues are not yet opening their books for the winter and spring. As soon as we have dates planned, we will post them on our site.

We will not hold a live ICCA event unless we are permitted to have a vaccine/testing requirement for all participants and attendees. As such requirements are illegal in Florida, all Florida events will be fully virtual. Our events in Arizona and Texas may or may not be live, depending on what comes of the ongoing appeal process in the courts on this issue. We are planning accordingly and will announce updates as they are available.

For groups from these states who are able to comply with the vaccination policy and are willing to travel out of state to compete, we will do our best to accommodate you, but we can’t make any promises. It’s difficult to hold an event in California with mostly Arizona competitors, as we need to consider who will attend (and therefore offset costs for) these events. However, if we have an event in California with adequate California competitors and room to add several Arizona competitors who are able to comply with the vaccine/masking policy, we will absolutely add you to that event. We will ask about your ability to comply with vaccine/masking policy as part of the application process.

We do anticipate that ICCA semifinals in all regions will be live.

Please note that finals will be held at Town Hall in New York, which requires all performers and audiences to be fully vaccinated, without exception. Groups who make it to finals but cannot comply with the masking and vaccine or testing policy will be permitted to drop out without consequence.

More details to follow on what virtual events will look like. However, groups should plan to record and perform a full set in person (with each other) to submit to us for inclusion in the virtual events. Deadlines for virtual events and details on how to watch will be available after groups apply and are accepted into competition.

Thank you for your ongoing patience and feedback as we adjust our format to accommodate as many groups as we can in as valuable a format as safely possible.

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Updated August 17, 2021:

We at Varsity Vocals are eagerly looking forward to welcoming you back to the ICCA and ICHSA stage for the 2022 season. At present, we are planning to hold a full, live tournament at venues across the US and UK, as we have in previous years.

Applications to the 2022 season will open September 1, due October 15, with acceptances announced November 15, and tickets on sale January 15. We ask that you bear with us as our competition venues and dates will roll out more slowly than they have in previous years; many venues and schools are just now reopening their schedules to us.

In order to safely operate our tournament, we are instituting the following protocols to reduce risk and create a safe space for our audiences, artists, production crews, and staff.

In order to achieve this goal, all 2022 ICCA and ICHSA competition participants and audiences must be fully vaccinated. Audience members will need to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to enter the building.

All members (including directors) of performance ensembles, production crew, judges, and staff will have to do the same. Children under the age of 12, for whom there is currently no available vaccine, will be permitted to enter with proof of a negative test within 72 hours (PCR) or 6 hours (rapid antigen).

In compliance with the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, the audience will be at full capacity, and face masks will be required at all times.

Backstage, our performers and staff will be required to wear masks, unless they are on stage performing. We will provide alcohol wipes backstage for our staff and competitors to sanitize microphones between uses.

If you have specific questions about our safety protocols, please contact us at [email protected]. However, complaints will not be addressed. In light of the global health crisis, we have implemented science-based policies to minimize risk and show respect for our participants and audiences. Participation in and attendance of our tournament is fully optional; if these policies do not suit you for whatever reason, this is a fine year to sit things out.

We can’t wait to once again share the joy of live music and performance with you all!