Re-established DCM circuit will not include most division I corps

by Kelly Bitter, DCW editor

After a one-year trial of the new Drum Corps International-Midwest division, member corps of the old Drum Corps Midwest circuit voted September 13 to reinstate DCM. Despite the result of the vote, DCM will not be the same in 2004. At a September 19-20 DCI board of directors meeting a decision was made to create a DCI Central Division. The week following the meeting, eight division I members of Drum Corps Midwest (all but Pioneer) sent a note to DCM show sponsors announcing that they planned to schedule their show participation through the DCI Central Division.

Last year, the Midwestern corps had voted to allow DCI to run the Midwest division, including the schedule and the championships in De Kalb, IL, for one year and to meet again to discuss plans for the future after the trial season. With all but two of the Midwestern corps in attendance at the DCM meeting (Phantom Regiment and the Decorah Kilties were not represented), the final vote was 10 votes to 8, with one abstention, to return to DCM. The four senior corps, division I Pioneer and five of the division III corps that are members of Drum Corps Midwest voted for the return, while the remaining seven Midwestern division I corps (Capital Regiment, Madison Scouts, Southwind, Bluecoats, The Cavaliers, Colts and Glassmen) and division II Capital Sound voted against the motion. The Americanos abstained.

DCI Executive Director Dan Acheson said the new DCI Central Division will be open to more than just the division I corps. “The central division is open to division I, II and III corps,” he said. “As has been our practice in the Atlantic and Pacific divisions, there have been opportunities for senior corps to perform, but ultimately we will serve division I, II and III corps just as they are currently serviced in the Atlantic and Pacific divisions.”

Acheson also said the boundaries of the new division would exceed those that the Midwest has held traditionally. “We intend to service any corps that wishes to participate in the central division,” he said. “We will open up the opportunities to Memphis Sound, Eklipse (and) Revolution, for example.”

Eight of the division I corps have announced they intend to be exclusively DCI Central Division corps. As for division II/III corps and Pioneer, Acheson said, “If it fits into their mission to do some shows in Drum Corps Midwest and do some shows in the central division and that serves them well, then we consider that to be a positive.”

DCI Central Division corps will not be restricted from performing in Drum Corps Midwest shows if they choose to do so; however, Acheson said he doesn’t foresee that happening. “There is nothing that states that they cannot do that, but I believe that the corps are very committed to making the central division work, to the point where I don’t think they’re going to choose to go participate in Drum Corps Midwest events.”

Cavaliers Director Jeff Fiedler said his corps will not remain a member of DCM or participate in DCM shows.

“The Cavaliers are a member of Drum Corps International and feel that it is important for our organization to support that in every way we can,” he said. “We are proud of our 25 years in Drum Corps Midwest; however, it is important for us to look to the future where our resources are maximized and our shows and image are marketed professionally. To maintain the status quo is moving backwards.”

Colts Director and DCM chairman Greg Orwoll said although the potential exists for tremendous change, one thing that will not change is the philosophy of the Midwestern corps of working together and supporting one another. Orwoll said he was disappointed with the result of the DCM vote because he had hoped all DCM members and participants would be comfortable moving together. Now, he said, it will be up to individual corps to make their own choices.

Fiedler also said he was disappointed with the result. “In some ways, I had a feeling that many folks had made their decision to return to DCM despite the fact that the agreed-to metrics — number of shows, number of performance opportunities, pay for units and the increased exposure of the championship show — were all achieved,” he said.

DCM Director Roman Blenski said he was pleasantly surprised with the way the division III and senior corps stuck together to achieve their desired outcome.

“DCM has given great service to all the corps for 25 years,” he said. “I think the vote is somewhat reflective of that tone of appreciation. I’m just shocked at the determination of the II/IIIs and seniors.”

Blenski said he thinks the vote turned out the way it did because “what happened last summer (with DCI-Midwest) wasn’t better than what DCM was doing.” He said the division II/III corps and seniors get more attention, recognition and respect as members of DCM.

“The issues speak for themselves: it just was not a better deal for the II/III and senior corps,” he said.

Kilties board of directors president Bill Roetzer said his reaction to the result of the vote was mixed. “DCI does have a lot to offer, as does DCM, and there is no doubt in my mind that DCI is a wonderful organization, as is DCM,” he said. “My concerns lie with the division II/III (corps and) seniors having no voting voice if DCM dissolved and a new entity lead by DCI was set into place. In DCM, all corps that were members had equal voice and equal vote; I think that is democracy at its finest.”

Americanos Executive Director Butch Kolosso said he also had mixed feelings about the result of the vote. “I felt DCI had offered some things that maybe should have been listened to and I didn’t feel that they were,” he said.

DCI’s offerings were outlined in a six-point proposal drafted by Fiedler with the assistance of Glassmen Director Brian Hickman. The proposal would have had division I members become associate members of DCM for a probationary period of one or two years. They would receive no pay, no vote and would not be able to hold any elective office in DCM. In return, DCM would continue to suspend operations for one or two years in order to allow DCI to develop the regional association, a Midwest advisory committee that would include all members of the association and an elected Midwest advisory group executive board.

Under the compromise, DCM would meet again in September 2004 (and in 2005 if the two-year period was chosen). At that time, only division II/III and senior corps would vote on whether to continue operation as a DCI Midwest division.

Orwoll said this proposal would have given the division II/III and senior corps more time to decide if a move to a DCI Midwest Division was in their best interest before the move was made permanent, and since the division I corps had offered to give up their vote, it would be entirely up to the II/III and senior corps to make the choice.

For Minnesota Brass Director Brent Turner, the vote to keep DCM as an independent organization was in the best interest of his corps because it would allow Minnesota Brass and the other senior corps to have a voice and a vote.

“It gives us real power,” he said. “With DCI, the II/IIIs have a voice but no vote.” He said the senior corps could be part of a regional advisory committee, but would also have no vote with DCI.

Turner said he had hoped the corps would be able to come to a middle ground where DCM could remain viable and DCI could have its national tour. Now, he hopes the two organizations will be able to coexist.

“I hope the friendships we’ve built and the way we’ve done business through trusting each other is something that will continue,” he said.

Turner said the point the two sides could not agree on was who would retain control of individual shows and the De Kalb championships. He said in the future, it would be a good idea to look at the possibility of “blended ownership” of the championships between DCI and DCM.

Acheson said he had not heard what DCM’s scheduling intentions are for De Kalb this season, but he said, “At this point in the scheduling process (DCI) intends to hold an event in De Kalb on July 10 for the central division corps.”

Capital Sound Director Lauren Ripley was the only non-division I corps director to vote against the return to Drum Corps Midwest. She said she wasn’t surprised by the result of the vote, but she was disappointed that the outcome wasn’t different. Although Capital Sound will remain a division II corps, Ripley said the corps will probably not remain a member of DCM.

Ripley said she voted with the division I corps because she felt DCI could provide good shows in bigger venues with larger crowds. “I wish the best for the division I, III and seniors and I hope this will work out to be advantageous for everyone,” she said.

Corps voting for the return to Drum Corps Midwest
Blue Stars
Chops, Inc.
Marion Glory Cadets
Lake Erie Regiment
Racine Kilties
Minnesota Brass, Inc.
Racine Scouts

Corps voting against the return to Drum Corps Midwest
Madison Scouts
Capital Sound
Capital Regiment
The Cavaliers

Abstaining corps

Pioneer (Milwaukee, WI)
Photo by Mark Prosperie