Attendees of the 2015 Drum Corps International winter meetings heard a comprehensive report Saturday morning presented by Open Class Coordinator David Eddleman and Legends Executive Director and Open Class Advisory Committee Chair Ibe Sodawalla.
The continued growth and sustainability of Open Class groups is a key component of several discussions taking place this weekend, especially with regard to ways in which DCI's new SoundSport® and DrumLine Battle?„? programs can continue to interface with and support the growing division.
"DrumLine Battle and SoundSport are becoming a way of ramping up and gaining experience as a launching pad for prospective organizations should they wish to grow into a touring Open or World Class group over time," Eddleman said. "Our in-house mentoring program, sharing of best practices, and our ability to help guide startup corps based on the varied experiences of our corps directors, are combining with DCI's new program offerings to increase opportunities for groups to create a stable foundation and a solid path toward sustainability.
"We're very pleased with the positive trends we're seeing on many fronts, and we want to continue to build on this momentum to foster future growth."
Highlights from the Open Class presentation:
• Currently undergoing an evaluation process, five prospective Open Class corps have applied to participate in the 2015 DCI Tour. Groups include Freedom (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Heat Wave (Inverness, Fla.), Jewel City (Huntington, W.V.), River City Rhythm (Anoka, Minn.), Southwind (Mobile, Ala.). A number of these groups got their start as DrumLine Battle and SoundSport units.
• With the expected return of Washington-based corps Thunder and the new prospective units, Eddleman anticipates the potential for 30 competing Open Class corps in 2015.
• In addition, one of the largest influxes of international groups in the history of Drum Corps International will potentially be seen in the United States this summer. Interest in joining the DCI Tour has been expressed by groups including Jubal (The Netherlands), Yokohama Scouts (Japan), Ravens (Ireland), North East Tech (Thailand), Chien Kuo (Taiwan), Gita Sorosowan (Indonesia). Both Jubal and the Yokohama Scouts performed as part of the DCI World Championships in 2011.
• Between 14 and 17 Open Class corps are expected to compete at the 2015 Open Class World Championships in Michigan City, Indiana, in addition to international groups.
• In addition to growth in the number of Open Class units, Eddleman reports that there has also been an escalation in the size of those participating groups. The four largest Open Class corps in 2014 had memberships totaling 150, 149, 144 and 129 respectively. Average corps size in 2014 was 86, up from 65 in 2010.
• 1,969 Open Class performers in 2014 represented 38 percent of all DCI performers.
• 13 DCI Tour events in 2014 featured a lineup exclusively of Open Class corps. Total paid attendance at those shows was 10,864 with an average of 836 audience members per event. According to Eddleman, this is also indicative of a positive growth trend.