Seven Top Corps Propose New Touring Concept

Big changes may or may not be on the way for Drum Corps International. Seven top DCI corps have joined together in an independent ad-hoc caucus to discuss, in their words: “How 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.”

Participating corps included The Blue Devils, Bluecoats, The Cadets, Carolina Crown, The Cavaliers, Phantom Regiment and Santa Clara Vanguard. The groups’ leaders had been speaking in person and over the phone since January, developing a new touring concept and other suggested changes to DCI. They informed DCI in writing and over the phone about their intent, and Cadets director George Hopkins presented their proposal at the May 12 to 13 DCI Board of Directors meeting.

The biggest element of the proposal is a series of events that would, in their words, “feature DCI’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.” Other suggestions included reductions in DCI infrastructure to increase fiscal support of member corps, further involvement between DCI and scholastic music, and changes to the touring schedule to bring “two of the top corps” to the West Coast to compete with Santa Clara Vanguard and The Blue Devils each summer.

“It seems clear that more attention needs to be paid to the future of the activity, and this plan seems to have potential,” said Bill Speakman, president of Youth Education in the Arts, the parent association of The Cadets, in the press release. “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.”

After the presentation, the DCI board passed a motion to discuss the touring component of the proposal in further detail at the July 16 meeting and asked for more in-depth financial analysis and documentation.

On May 19 the seven corps simultaneously posted a press release on their websites. The next day, DCI executive director Dan Acheson posted an open response on the DCI website. “I would be less than genuine if I tried to make a statement without expressing how concerned I am that the differences among the member corps have brought the organization to such a level of disagreement,” Acheson said in the letter. “However, as frustrating as this can be when discussions become mired in egoism and self-righteousness, I know all of the corps representatives are noble in their pursuit of what they perceive to be the right direction for DCI.”

To view the press release on the proposal, visit the websites of the seven corps involved in the caucus. To view Acheson’s letter, visit www.dci.org.

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