In early January of this year, representatives from Drum Corps International’s Open Class corps gathered in Indianapolis for the annual DCI winter business meetings.
The gathering, the first in-person off-season gathering of Open Class administrators since 2020, offered attendees the opportunity to catch up on current topics of interest, learn from one another, share best practices and look ahead to the 2023 DCI Summer Tour.
• DCI Open Class coordinator David Eddleman says that 19 Open Class corps are currently scheduled to participate in the 2023 Drum Corps International Summer Tour. Of those, 12 will attend the season-ending DCI World Championships in Indiana. Seven other Open Class corps will follow more regionally-focused tours.
Notable summer tour-related footnotes include the return of the Watchmen to several southern California events, marking the Riverside, California corps’ first time back on the field since 2019. Plans are also in the works for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Columbians to head to Indiana this August to compete at the DCI World Championships for the first time.
READ: Columbians set to "surprise the nation," make World Championships debut in 2023
Eddleman stressed that an Open Class corps’ choice to attend the DCI World Championships should not be misconstrued as a sign of the general health of an organization. He says corps administrators continue to put an emphasis on “working within their means,” and some of the “healthiest” Open Class drum corps organizationally-speaking are those who are opting to serve their missions closer to home.
“One of the differentiating features of Open Class corps is their ability to choose their own level of participation based upon their own resources,” Eddleman explained. “If they decide they want to have a one-bus drum corps, then they can devote all of their finances and efforts to being a really great one-bus drum corps. If they want to expand to 100 or more members, then they also have the flexibility and support to be able to do that as an Open Class corps.”
• A number of roundtable discussions offered Open Class representatives the opportunity to voice ongoing successes and challenges within their respective organizations.
Eddleman said that among the hottest topics for discussion in Indianapolis were recruitment and audition strategies, as groups continue to see smaller numbers of prospective members attending audition and experience camps following their COVID shutdowns in 2020 and 2021. This challenge is coupled with rising operational costs across the board, particularly related to transportation. Groups are aggressively exploring available avenues for cost reduction, including cutting back to one-day rehearsals instead of overnight weekend camps prior to the start of the competitive season.
• The representation and influence of Open Class corps continues to expand within the drum corps community, providing the opportunity for delegates to share their unique perspective and insights in key operational areas. DCI's Artistry and Competition Steering Committee (ACSC) will add Open Class representation this year, as will DCI’s Membership Affairs Committee (MAC), which prioritizes league-wide issues of concern and focus for all participating ensembles.
• Directors also filled open seats and elected officers to serve on the Open Class advisory committee. The 2023 committee members include:
Chair: Katherine Steinacker (The Battalion)
Vice Chair: Paul LaFlamme (Spartans)
Secretary: Lawrence LeClaire (Southwind)
Kevin Valentine (Gold)
Adam Chrobak (Guardians)
Andrew Eaton (Colt Cadets)
Jeff Carstensen (Heat Wave)
David Eddleman (DCI Open Class Coordinator)