The Drum Corps International Board of Directors met in a work session in Indianapolis, Ind., on Wednesday, May 26, to review plans for the start of the 2010 DCI Tour and World Championships, to assess progress on the 2010-2014 strategic plan, and to discuss a number of items of interest to the voting membership.

Attending the session were Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director Dan Acheson, Chief Financial Officer Wayne Leide, Board Chairman Mark Arnold (Blue Knights), Greg Orwoll (Colts), and newly installed interim members Howard Weinstein (Blue Stars), Brian Hickman (Glassmen), Mark Stasa (unaffiliated) and Steve Auditore (unaffiliated).

Of the numerous issues covered during the eight-hour session, a plan was put into place to fill board vacancies created by the recent resignation of two board members following a rebalancing of board representation by a plurality of the voting membership. A special election will be held next month to fill the empty corps-affiliated board seats. The unaffiliated seat will be filled at the next annual meeting in January, 2011.

A review of the recently completed financial audit of the corporation indicated that Drum Corps International's revenue grew by 1.1 percent from 2008 to 2009 despite the challenges of the recent economic climate. The increase in revenue, coupled with a focus on controlling costs in all operational areas, allowed Drum Corps International to increase the amount of direct payments to corps by more than $90,000 (a 3.9 percent increase), while still producing a Net Income for the year of $180,000. In 2009, direct payments to the corps represented approximately 25 percent of the organization's gross revenue.

The 2010-2014 Business Plan, approved by an eight to one vote of the previous board in September 2009, calls for an additional across-the-board increase in corps appearance fees for all World Class corps. The newly-seated board affirmed its commitment to the vision which drove the plan and its acceptance; a focus on increasing participation opportunities, increased engagement with the scholastic music education universe and leadership entrusted to serve all of the corps functioning under the DCI umbrella.

"Our vision for the future of Drum Corps International is one of greater inclusion," said Mark Arnold, Chairman of Board of Directors. "We strive to create more opportunities for young people to experience the unique attributes of the drum corps lifestyle and to gain important life skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives."

These thoughts were echoed by Dan Acheson, DCI Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. "Over the past several years, many things have come into focus, and we understand better than ever the opportunities we have to make a profound difference in the lives of those who directly participate in the drum corps activity, and in the lives of those who support these outstanding young people. We're looking forward to embracing these numerous and varied opportunities to enable the organization and all of the member corps to thrive in the fulfillment of our respective missions."

Additional tactical elements of the plan call for a number of initiatives designed to develop new fans, preserve existing fans and re-establish relationships with "legacy" fans. Tactical execution of this multi-faceted approach to audience growth will center on a series of promotional and engagement programs including the establishment and implementation of "town hall" and "fan roundtable" forums.

A large portion of the recent financial results were driven by the 2009 World Championships in Indianapolis—one of the most profitable in the organization's history. With final results tallied and independently audited, the 2009 World Championships rank as number four out of 38 years of producing Championship events.

Despite stable ticket pricing for five consecutive years, overall ticket sales in 2009 were down three percent over the previous year, trending similarly to other discretionary spending leisure activities such as NASCAR (down 7.1 percent during the same period) and Major League Baseball (down 5.6 percent). Trends this year are more optimistic, with the addition of new events such as DCI Minnesota in Minneapolis, showing tremendous promise, and long-standing events such as the DCI Eastern Classic in Allentown, Pa. tracking significantly ahead of projections and on a near-record pace.

As always, the Drum Corps International Board of Directors is concerned about the long-term viability of the organization and its member corps. A key component of the current business plan is a renewed focus on increasing participation in the junior drum corps activity by removing barriers to entry for new units and increasing the long-term sustainability of existing corps through the provision of additional cooperative, developmental resources.

The five key strategic elements of the 2010-2014 plan include:
    • Attendance growth each season, culminating with 450,000 tickets purchased to live Drum Corps International events by 2014. 
    • Adoption of a multiple-year national tour scheduling strategy beginning in 2010 with a focus on consistency in order to balance opportunities for drum corps fans in all regions of the United States. 
    • Implementation of programs and processes to enable at least 6,000 young people to participate annually in a World or Open Class corps by 2014.
    • By 2014, a 100 percent increase in generation of year-round revenue through new and expanded entrepreneurial ventures, cooperatively leveraging the vast resources, core competencies and intellectual property of Drum Corps International and its member organizations.
    • The development and continued refinement of a competitive system which will reward "effect" consistent with what excites both the participants and "the fans in the stands."
On the topic of competitive systems review, Board members received a briefing of current activities undertaken by respected educator, design professional and DCI Hall of Fame member Michael Cesario, whose services have been retained by Drum Corps International to perform a comprehensive audit and review of adjudication philosophy and processes by speaking with instructors, judges, members and fans as well as corps administrators. During its annual meeting last January, the DCI membership voted unanimously to engage Cesario, and scheduled a three-day meeting to take place in September, 2010 to discuss the results of the research and to examine potential new systems which could be implemented prior to the start of the 2011 season.

The board will next meet by conference call during the month of June, and will convene its next face-to-face session in conjunction with the DCI Minnesota Premier Event in Minneapolis this July, at which time its agenda is scheduled to include a presentation from a group of corps wishing to propose alternatives to the currently approved strategic plan.