Marching Arts Programs Innovate. Shouldn’t Fundraising Evolve, Too?

If you’ve been around the marching band, drum corps, indoor percussion or color guard space for any period of time, you have no doubt witnessed new levels of innovation that could be categorized as simply “historic”.

Traditionally, drum corps tended to be the drivers of new concepts, ideas, and creativity. Recently we have seen tremendous levels of creativity coming out of the high school segment (Bands of America is a great incubator of this, by the way).

If you were to sample the opinion of a random group of 100 performers, judges, designers and directors and asked them if the innovation of the last 5 years of innovation exceeded the previous 15, you would probably have 95% agreement across the board.

Shows are becoming more like “art” – but highly entertaining art! Louds are louder, thanks to spectacular sound systems, wireless mics, and a variety of electronic gizmos assembled by ‘sound engineers’. The visual programs are staggering, driven by extreme creativity in the realm of costuming, equipment, movement vocabulary, and physically-demanding responsibilities placed on performers. In the indoor genre, more of the same. 


As the edge of the envelope is pressed, the price tag increases. Sound systems, wireless mics, along with software to drive them, new slick uniforms, flags, and then contracting designers to produce these show concepts – ALL OF THE ABOVE are getting more and more expensive. This puts direct pressure on the fundraising program.


Bluecoats in 2016:

modern shows require modern fundraising


Bluecoats in 1974:

fundraising has changed since 1974


Why shouldn’t fundraising evolve and be brought current along with the other measures used to design, teach, and manage a marching organization. I’m sure the 1974 Bluecoats in the image above held car washes, candy sales, and did anything/everything they could do to raise the funds to perform and compete. We can agree the the financial impact of those activities has changed (in other words, it was a lot easier for a drum corps to actually “do business” back in the day as it’s outrageously expense now) – but the moral of the story is, why not bring modern fundraising and technology into the picture to make it easier?



Leave a Comment