Discussions have been underway since January to explore how Drum Corps International ( “DCI” ) might better serve the interests of all drum corps, including those groups who have a history of success for the past 20 years or more.

At the May 12-13 DCI Board of Directors meeting, Cadets Director George Hopkins, made a presentation on behalf of seven members of an ad-hoc caucus. DCI member corps were present to observe and participate in question/answer sessions that followed. Following the presentation and question/answer session, the DCI Board passed a motion requesting that the touring component of the plan be addressed in further detail at the next board meeting on July 16, along with a more in-depth financial analysis and supporting documentation. No action was taken at the meeting to adopt the proposal, in whole or in part.

The presentation is the result of ad-hoc caucus discussions that included the Blue Devils, Bluecoats, Cadets, Carolina Crown, Cavaliers, Phantom Regiment, and Santa Clara Vanguard. Meetings have been conducted in-person, and through numerous teleconferences over the last four months. In an effort to ensure that the broader DCI community was aware of these discussions, the membership of Drum Corps International was informed of the meetings via phone calls made in March of 2010. DCI’s CEO and the Chairman of DCI’s Board of Directors were also informed of these meetings in writing.

The group of seven has worked as an independent caucus, coming together in an effort to create a proposal that it hopes will be approved by the DCI Board and the membership of DCI.

The Proposal

The proposal offered for review to the DCI Board of Directors numbers more than 60 pages, and includes these highlights:

  • A plan to create a series of special events in addition to the usual competitive DCI schedule throughout the year, and feature Drum Corps International’s “top acts” in fully produced big stadium shows. These events would include pre-show and post show activity, instant encores, interactive warm- up zones and fan participation in the judging process.
  • An open-ended suggestion to reduce the DCI infrastructure to find additional fiscal support for all member drum corps.
  • While continuing to service our ardent and supportive fan and alumni base, the group suggested a plan to better marry drum corps to scholastic music in the hope of supporting arts education, while at the same time generating an interested spectator base for the drum corps activity.
  • A competitive touring concept that would annually bring two of the top corps to join the Santa Clara Vanguard and Blue Devils each year on the West Coast beginning in 2011.
  • There were also administrative points discussed that included pay allocations, governance issues, and other internal activity that would need to be approved by the full DCI membership at a future DCI meeting.

At the center of the proposal is a detailed plan to feature DCI’s top acts, while sustaining the structure of the World Class, Drum Corps International and Tour Event Partner events that are currently in place. Since the proposed events would be in addition to the regular DCI tour schedule, the seven groups understand that on top of their usual performance commitments, they would shoulder a greater commitment to miles driven and number of events on their schedule.

The proposal acknowledges there are different levels of performance ability, different resources and different goals that can and should be addressed for the good of all. With a plan in place, the goal is to increase the overall quality level and stability of all corps, as well as over time to increase the number of corps included in the proposed special events. Sustainability of the activity is a key objective. The proposal by the group of seven corps seeks to tackle several specific issues within the activity that have not been addressed with any serious action since the very successful Tour of Champions in 2004.

The proposal as presented is designed to be managed within the DCI structure and to bring fans more of what they expect – an exciting evening of drum corps! What becomes of it, time will tell. For now, it is an idea that is in progress and the group is continuing to develop the concept further.

Kit Rodgers, President of BD Performing Arts and its flagship group the Blue Devils noted that the BDPA organization is committed to helping secure the future of the drum corps activity for many years to come.

” We want drum corps to continue to be the standard-setting pageantry activity in the world, so that all of its performing groups, fans, band students, band directors, alumni and people around the world can enjoy and participate in this grand art form,” Rodgers said. ” Our goal is to benefit organizations at all levels of the drum corps activity, and we are pleased to work with other leading organizations in this endeavor.”

Added Bill Speakman, president of Youth Education in the Arts, the parent association of The Cadets, ” YEA! supports this concept in total. It seems clear that more attention needs to be paid to the future of the activity and this plan seems to have potential. We expect compromise of course, but the time and effort spent by these seven directors and their organizations is impressive. After all, top shows more often – that is a winning concept for fans and the corps. “

Jim Coates, the CEO of the Carolina Crown, added that the anticipation for developing ideas, creating opportunities and the abilities to continue working together as unified organizations with common philosophies excites the leadership of Carolina Crown.

“There is no doubt the experience, dedication and passion involved in these efforts will bring much satisfaction for the fans both young and old, ” Coates said.

Jeff Fiedler, the CEO of the Santa Clara Vanguard said, ” I’m happy to share that the Santa Clara Vanguard is part of an exciting effort to bring more drum corps to the West Coast each season. We’re working together to develop and propose a new format and series of events which will expand the fan-base of our activity and bring the most exciting elements of drum corps to a larger audience, up close and personal, like never before!”

Looking Forward

Efforts to develop the proposal’s new touring model will continue through the summer with the hope that events and future plans can be announced in September 2010 for the summer of 2011. During the coming months additional discussions will continue as the seven organizations create a plan that includes detailed implementation timelines, analyzes financial implications, develop show formats, marketing concepts, and adjudication framework, with the goal the long lasting sustainability of the activity.

For more information on this exciting concept, stay close to Drum Corps International at or email Jeff Fiedler at [email protected]