Early this February the Madison Drum & Bugle Corps Association, Inc. announced that it will change its name to Forward Performing Arts, opening the door for additional opportunities for the organization to fulfill its educational mission.
“While the drum corps itself will remain known as the Madison Scouts, the organizational name change provides clarity to our mission to serve youth far beyond the 150 students in our corps,” Madison Scouts Executive Director Chris Komnick said. “This gives us the flexibility to provide services to a variety of performing ensembles and adds opportunities to reach deeper into the community to benefit more kids.”
With its widespread popularity, the drum corps has drawn its membership nationally and internationally for decades. Komnick says that Forward Performing Arts is a recommitment of the organization to the Badger State, intended to reestablish and strengthen the local roots enjoyed since the corps’ founding in 1938. The name Forward Performing Arts is a nod to the official Wisconsin State Motto, which is, simply, “Forward.”
“This past fall we spent a significant amount of time talking with Wisconsin band directors,” Komnick said. “What we heard from them is a desire to see such a group coalesce the purpose behind marching arts activities in Wisconsin, providing further opportunities for education and performance.”
To accomplish this in 2017, Forward Performing Arts will utilize the three Drum Corps International Tour events run by the organization in Wisconsin this summer, providing educational “Mad Skills” workshops for students. In the near future, the organization will also consider sponsoring a fall marching band event, as well as winter activities catering to band directors and their students.
Other initiatives will include the expansion of the organization’s “Mad Dash for Music Education,” which in 2016 brought 5K run/walks to five different cities across the country to raise awareness and funding for various arts programs.
Spinning a performing arts entity out of a drum corps organization isn’t an entirely new concept. Organizations such as the Cadets’ Youth Education in the Arts and Blue Devils’ BD Performing Arts have been successful in doing so for some time. As the strategic vision for Forward Performing Arts came together over the past two years, Komnick consulted with a variety of organizations that have recently launched similar organizational changes, including the Cavaliers, Blue Knights, and Boston Crusaders.
“We really started putting our vision into strategic action last summer,” said Komnick. “That included having discussions with various stakeholders; in particular Wisconsin band directors, the Wisconsin Music Educators Association, and our already established corporate partners like Yamaha and Stanbury Uniforms, each key players in the world of music education.”
In the immediate future, Forward Performing Arts intends to expand its roster of ensembles, including a new SoundSport team that will operate independent of the Madison Scouts.
Komnick says the Madison-based ensemble, which will be coed and open to students ages 15-20, will perform this summer in numerous local venues. In August, the team will head to Indianapolis to participate in the SoundSport International Music and Food Festival that will be held during the DCI World Championships.
Looking into the future, Komnick says that Forward Performing Arts may further develop into a multi-faceted organization that—in addition to the marching arts—may also service concert groups such as symphonic bands and jazz ensembles.
He added, “What I envision for the future is that we will become a preeminent performing arts organization in the state of Wisconsin,” Komnick said. “I see us providing music education opportunities in communities where school districts have been cutting back on the arts and music education. As a private organization, we believe we can help fill the void created by those cutbacks.”