Last weekend the Drum Corps International (DCI) board of directors met to discuss a variety of topics, including the formalization of the DCI Central Division. The decision to form the division came one week after the Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) members decided to revert back to operating the Midwest region under the DCM umbrella. While the vote was 10 to 8 with one abstention and one corps absent, the vote of the junior corps was 8 to 6 in favor of keeping the operation under the DCI umbrella. The corps voting to revert back to DCM rejected offers of compromise from the Division I DCI member corps in a closed corps-representative-only session. "I'm not sure those corps that voted yes to revive DCM fully appreciated or realized what took place on their behalf in 2003, " said Dan Acheson, executive director of Drum Corps International. "DCI delivered 100 percent on the agreement made in December 2002 to the DCM member corps, with the execution of a schedule that enabled corps in all divisions to work as many events as they had in 2002; event contracts administration fees only increased $160 to cover music licensing fees; consistent judging occurred at all events; continued use of Division I scoring sheets for Division II & III corps per the corps request, and more than 6,300 in paid attendance at the championships in DeKalb making the 2003 event the second-highest attendance in the event's history." Long time DCM Division I member corps sent a note this week to DCM show sponsors in the Midwest region stating their intentions to continue being scheduled under the DCI umbrella as the DCI Central Division. The list includes The Cavaliers, Phantom Regiment, Bluecoats, Madison Scouts, Glassmen, Colts, Southwind and the Capital Regiment. All of the corps mentioned, along with DCI executive director Dan Acheson, have nothing but praise for their association with DCM for the past 25 years, but they have determined it is in the best interest of all corps to proceed as one collective operating under the same umbrella. The DCI Central Division will operate similar to the DCI Pacific Division and the DCI Atlantic Division, which have been established for five years after making the transition from independent organizations like DCM. The qualifying members in the region will have a level of autonomy similar to the Atlantic and Pacific. The DCI Central Division will include Division II & III corps should they choose to participate. The DCI Central Division is not insisting on exclusivity of participation from Division II & III corps. If Division II & III corps find participation in DCM to be of value to their goals and objectives DCI views that as a positive. Also the boundaries of the DCI Central Division extend beyond the traditional boundaries of DCM to include even more corps. "We have invested a tremendous amount of resources in establishing Drum Corps International as the premier brand in the drum corps activity," added Acheson. "When people see the Drum Corps International program on television, or view a Drum Corps International DVD, they have a reasonable expectation that live events are going to be consistent with that level of quality. We believe that DCI Central Division events will be reflective of that level of quality of corps and experience for the audience, while at the same time allowing all junior corps access should they so choose." With eight well-established Division I corps as members of the DCI Central Division, events will be as power-packed as they have been in the past. Additionally, the central location of shows is inviting to corps traveling from the east, south or the west, and expected early season appearances by the defending champion Blue Devils as they return from Europe will make this region a very exciting one in 2004. Added to the success of the second-largest audience in DeKalb history in 2003 was one of the most successful seasons ever for Drum Corps International, as more than 18,800 paid to attend the Championship Finals in Orlando, nearly 12,000 paid to see the Southwestern Championship in San Antonio, 10,900 paid to see the Midwest Championship in Indianapolis, 9,300 paid to see the Masters Championship in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and 10,600 paid to see the Saturday Eastern Championship event in Allentown, Pa. Acheson concluded, "You can expect that the Division I corps that are members of Drum Corps International will continue to share their resources to provide a stage for Division II & III corps through regional participation, as well as DCI Division II & III. Whatever the conclusion fans might draw from the DCM vote, the DCI Central Division I corps continue to be pro-active in providing a stage for Division II & III corps." This point by Acheson is further emphasized by the joint session held at the DCI board of directors meeting this past weekend with the inclusion of the DCI Division II & III advisory committee.