The annual fall meeting of Drum Corps International’s World Class directors was conducted virtually this year, with delegates from each of the 22 ensembles present, along with members of the DCI Board of Directors, representatives from DCI’s Open Class corps and guest presenters on a number of high-priority health, safety and member affairs issues.

The two-day event, which usually focuses on a wrap-up of “the year that was” and a look ahead to the specifics of the following season, was instead recast to calibrate efforts and share information regarding the numerous challenges inherent in planning and budgeting for a 2021 competitive season in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the canceled 2020 DCI Tour.

“Although the challenges are plentiful, we are continuing to be clear-eyed as we work through a planning process with multiple scenarios,” said Kathy Black, chair of the DCI Board of Directors. “Above all else, we will not compromise the safety of the performers, staff, judges, volunteers, fans or venue personnel. To that end, we are blessed to have the guidance and support of a growing number of remarkable professionals with vast experience in all manners of public health, as highly engaged volunteers in the Marching Music Health, Wellness & Safety Project. With their insights, resources and contacts, we are confident that we will continue to make informed decisions throughout the planning process.”

Meeting weekly throughout the summer, directors representing DCI’s participating ensembles have been organized into a number of standing and ad hoc committees, each charged with researching specific operational areas to determine feasibility for engaging in a successful, modified format for the summer of 2021.

The newly-formed Tour Reopening Task Force, with DCI board member David Glasgow as chair, has been empaneled as a subcommittee of the DCI Membership Affairs Committee to seek the establishment of operational guidelines that serves all duty of care considerations with regard to the health, wellness and safety of all who engage with the drum corps activity. The group is working in support of the desire expressed by DCI membership to produce a shortened summer tour in 2021 to serve as a “bridge” to returning to a customary full tour in 2022.

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The task force will help identify, examine and establish proposed guidelines relative to COVID-19 which would require adoption by the participating organizations prior to engaging in a 2021 tour. Subject matter experts serving on the task force include career professionals such as: emergency medicine physician, nurse practitioner, athletic trainer, infectious disease expert recently retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attorney, Open Class and World Class corps directors, corps logistics and program coordinators, DCI senior event management professional, risk management professional, and a licensed dietician/nutritionist certified chef/food production manager.

“We know that we have a lot of ground to cover, and we’re very fortunate to have such a stellar team of experienced professionals spanning many disciplines all working together to create a robust knowledge base,” said Glasgow. “Our goal is not to set policy, but rather, to provide the voting members with the highest possible level of information in order to make informed decisions which have far-reaching consequences.”

Corps representatives and DCI professional staff members realize that a 2021 tour will look quite different from any which have come before it. All are committed, however, to ensuring that any such endeavor is undertaken only if it is safe and feasible to do so.

“From use of hotels to changes in rehearsal scheduling to managing our personnel on the road, we know that the ‘Bridge Tour’ will be filled with challenges,” said Pacific Crest director Stuart Pompel who serves as chair of the voting membership. “We’re all cautiously optimistic about making something happen if it is deemed safe and practical to do so. We’re committed to working together to identify every opportunity that safely provides an exceptional experience for our performers – one which they have come to expect from the ensembles of Marching Music’s Major League – as we look forward to resuming some semblance of normalcy in time for the celebration of DCI’s 50th anniversary in 2022.”