Like nearly all activities being conducted in the face of an ongoing global public health emergency, the 2021 Annual Meeting of DCI’s voting members and participating corps was conducted in a “virtual” setting last week, as more than 100 participcants took part in a number of video conference discussions and featured presentations spanning several days. The meeting was conducted under the gavel of DCI membership chair, Stuart Pompel of Pacific Crest.

Central to conversations in many of the sessions was a continued intensive focus on health, safety and welfare of participants, volunteers and staff, relating to general operations and the current challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic specifically.

In December, 2020, Drum Corps International announced a plan to produce a three-day event series in Indianapolis in August, 2021 should it be unquestionably safe to do so. Additional details are slowly coming into focus, as a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and consultants have been engaged to operate as DCI’s Tour Reopening Task Force (TRTF). The panel will continue to gather data and determine risk mitigation strategies to ensure that any and all planned activities will be safe and successful.

A number of corps directors representing World Class, Open Class and SoundSport ensembles at all competitive levels shared their obviously heartfelt desire to provide a meaningful summer performance and educational experience for their members, many of whom have been unable to take part in traditional scholastic and collegiate performing arts ensembles due to COVID-related restrictions. Several committees will continue to meet several times monthly to continue the development and refinement of details surrounding health and safety standards and protocols, potential performance formats, operational parameters and program timelines based on the most current data available through the TRTF. Future announcements in this regard will be made as conditions permit.

CEO Dan Acheson reiterated the organization’s continuing commitment to transparency regarding all areas of performer health, wellness and safety, including DCI’s organization-wide whistleblower framework. Discussion included a recap of the mechanisms by which reported concerns are investigated through legally-guided internal processes and those where external third-party independent specialists are engaged.

Presentations at the 2021 DCI Annual Meeting included status updates on current business and operational conditions along with reports from the board of directors as well as a number of its standing and special committees. Updates were provided to attendees from the judge administration team, DCI Hall of Fame, Drum Major/Leadership Development seminars, Membership Affairs Committee, Competition and Performance Advisory Committee, Artistic and Competition Steering Committee, and DCI’s Open Class coordinator and director liaison.

Genevieve Geisler, Chair of DCI’s IN STEP initiative facilitated a breakout discussion on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion as DCI and participating ensembles across the entire network of participating organizations continue to broaden their perspectives and understanding of a number of social issues facing their members, organizations and communities. Many groups are working to develop expanded opportunities to engage more people in the drum corps experience, as each organization strives to increase effectiveness in alignment with their respective missions.