I agree that something new, a different approach is needed.
When I took over the chapter here I had a lot of interest from the start. Once things began to form, the diversity of the membership basically divided it in to groups. Because of the low numbers overall, (around 20 )there were not enough people in each group to get anything going.
For example:
There are artists who are serious about perfroming and promoting themselves and want things that reflect that. There are part timers who, play on the weekends and hold down day jobs with kids family etc... they have little time form JPF meetings, and are not very responsive.
We have hobyists, who are not interersted in much of anything other than chit chat and playing out once in a while.
Some are totally averse to playing in bars/clubs, others are averse to playing in public, others are averse to chit chat....
some are studio owners, production folks and are interested in getting new clients.
It's such a mixed bag. Plus the fact that in the Cincinnati tri-state area, the distances are so great for everyone to travel to get to a meeting, it makes it hard to get people to come out.
I have had the meetings in a centrally located spot, and still some people are driving 45 minutes to an hour to get there. It takes me around 40 minutes.
Here in this area we have Cincinnati, Dayton, Middletown, Hamilton, Northern Kentucky, and Indiana. We also have membership that reaches from every point in that map. It's too big an area to be practical for most folks.
So to be honest, I can't really blame the person from Dayton or Middletown for not wanting to come down to Cincinnati.

I like the showcase idea.
But have to say that after coordinating music for a festival back in September, in which I reserved time slots for JPF artists, the reliability factor was a big issue. It turned out ok, with one last minute no show, but all of the crap that went into getting it there was not worth the trouble.
I have been asked to work with other festivals and can provide oppportunities for JPF artists, but at this point, I would only do so on an individual basis with people that are reliable and that I know will be open to communication , and working together.

I also like the link to politics, I am already active in promoting womens music and issues w through acoustic songbird and songbird radio.
I am also issue oriented, and am not a member of any political party.
Of course that is a big chunck to be biting off, and will require exceptional organizational skills to keep everyone focused and on the same page, in order to make any kind of impact on legislation, etc....

I don't know first hand how things are in other cities, but do know that when it comes to the arts, and promoting local and regional talent, it just ain't happening. Grants form grass roots projects have dwindled to nothing, people in the arts have lost jobs right and left, , and the burn out rate has been ovewrwhelming, among folks who traditionally lead the march on issues of social justice in the arts. Issues such as insurance, fair play and compensation, etc..
I know that in cincinnati, the city would rather pay out huge amounts of money to bring people in from the outside, rather than plop down a dime to help the local talent.
Everything that the local talent gets in this town, they earn, bu working harder and longer than everyone else.

I would have to take a really deep breath before I jumped full tilt into this one. Again.......
Mainly because it is a full time job,usually filled by a profesional arts administrator..
Political advocacy, is not something that can be done when ever one feels like it, it has to follow the flow of the legislation, and current debate on the subjects at hand. Requires a lot of research, and kowledge about the issues. and even more involvement, to get on the inside of the debate, so that there is a possibility of change.
My question would be, who has that kind of time.
Who, on a volunteer basis, could afford it.

Anyway, lots of things to consider.

One thing that you did not mention was the website change that you spoke about several months ago, where chapters would have their own area on the mother site.
I had at the time wanted to start a Cincinnati chapter website, and you did not want anything going on outside the JPF site. How do you feel about this now, and is anything happening on that front.