Bloomington Community Band (BCB)
Five-Year Plan, 2008-2012
The present Bloomington Community Band (BCB) has existed for 30 years.The BCB is a community organization, though not directly sponsored by the community in which most of the members live. Over the years many civic events such as parades, dedications of public buildings and statues, etc. have been accompanied by the BCB. It is an all-volunteer organization whose current membership numbers about sixty players. The BCB is a very active organization, presenting some 20 concerts a year in and outside Bloomington. Nevertheless, the weekly time demands on the typical members are not large, averaging 3-5 hours per week, including travel time. (One two-hour rehearsal takes place weekly from the third week of January through early December.)
This five-year plan seeks to identify projects and input that can improve the health and viability of the organization. For many years, the band has operated on a shoestring budget. In order to move to the next level of performance and development, we must accept that some changes will require additional cash outlay and capital investment. For instance, neither the librarian nor the conductors have ever received any pay. While the members very much appreciate their devotion to the band, the fourth decade of our existence demands that we look at compensation for their efforts.
Rehearsal space has been a problem at times in the band’s existence. As we experienced significant growth in the last couple of years, it became apparent that the present space may not be adequate much longer. This is especially true when we take into account the fact that the music library is currently stored in the basement of the assistant conductor. There simply is not space to house it in the rehearsal facility. The BCB depends on its members to load and unload equipment and music at the concert sites .Some community bands of our size manage to fund moving companies to do this type of work. Possibilities for new rehearsal space and assistance with moving need to be investigated.
We have done a pretty good job of communicating with our members, especially in recent years with the development of our web site, the annual surveys of band members, the establishment of the Music Advisory Committee (comprised entirely of band members), etc. There is even a mailing list to alert potential attendees to upcoming concerts. However, more effort needs to be put into recruiting new members and getting feedback from our audiences. Some of this work could figure into the design of forms on a re-vamped BCB web site, which should be done by a professional web designer.
Finally, the history of the Bloomington Community Band needs to be captured for posterity. While many records and photographs were lost a decade and a half ago, membership records were retained by our past long-time Personnel Director, and many items from the earlier period have been donated by members. With those primary materials, it will be possible to create a definitive history of the band and put on the web both the history and a database of current and past members.
The plan presented below and its recommendations are based on an approach that has included all necessary stakeholders to the extent possible. Stakeholders in our case are the members of the Bloomington Community Band, the organizations for whom we play, and the members of the audience who attend our concerts. Much of the input to the plan was drawn from the memories of longtime members of the BCB and from records of the Board meetings. We were constrained in the planning process primarily by a lack of time and people to work on the project. Nevertheless, we feel that this document will serve as a useful guide over the next several years for the members of the Bloomington Community Band and especially its governing Board of Directors.
Who are we?
The mission of the Bloomington Community Band, as found in its constitution is to:
– contribute positively to the musical literacy and musical environment of the community it serves, whether local or otherwise,
– provide opportunity and training for individual musical expression and growth among the membership,
– reaffirm the community concert band position in American music.
The band is a not-for-profit organization as defined under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The present Bloomington Community Band was started in 1978, so we have provided musical entertainment and an opportunity for adult amateur musicians to continue playing for the past 30 years. The band has approximately 60 members and plays about 20 concerts per year at many civic events and public gatherings in Monroe County and surrounding areas.
Strengths and weaknesses
The BCB is an all-volunteer organization. The main strengths of the band are the dedication and sense of community of the band’s members, some of whom have been with the band throughout its 30-year history. The budget for the organization is small (about $3500 per fiscal year), but this represents a two-fold increase in budget compared to just a few years ago. For the first time in 2008, we will institute a dues requirement ($25/year).
The volunteer conductor and assistant conductor are very dedicated to the band and devote many hours of service to the organization. In addition, there is a well-functioning Board of Directors that provides overall guidance to the BCB. Fortunately for us, St. Thomas Lutheran Church is willing to provide the current rehearsal space. We have long depended on the good graces of local churches for rehearsal space and a place to store percussion and other equipment. An unfortunate incident directly related to the lack of a permanent home for the band was the loss of much of our historical records. This occurred when the member who was at the time the Band Historian had to vacate her home due to health reasons, and the landlord threw away all of the boxes she had left behind. We cannot store our library of music at St. Thomas. The band has a reasonably large library of some 2500 pieces, but much of it is old, and missing parts are a problem. With a complete set of charts now costing in the neighborhood of $100-$150 for our instrumentation, it is difficult to build up the library.
When a concert is scheduled, band members must load the equipment at the church and unload it at the concert site. After that, the reverse route is followed to get the equipment back to the church. We have been very fortunate that the percussion equipment has not been damaged by inclement weather or the minimal packing standards followed when it is moved in the private vehicles of the band members.
Public relations efforts have been well performed over the years by the Publicity Coordinator and other volunteers. However, our web site is showing its age, and it could use some attention.(See at https://www.bloomingtoncommunityband.com)
Opportunities and Threats
This organization really needs larger, more stable rehearsal space that would provide a single place at which to store both equipment and the music library. If for some reason, the local church were no longer to welcome our presence, it would not be easy to find alternate space in a short period of time. Once an organization such as this has a long interruption, it is very difficult to get it started again, as witnessed by the long hiatus when Bloomington was without a community band prior to 1978. Moving the equipment is another problem that needs to be faced. Some organizations hire professional movers for this purpose.
In one sense, the rapid turnover of the Bloomington population poses a threat. This leads to a lack of stability in some key chairs in the band. On the other hand, the band is constantly rejuvenated with new members. Over the years, we have had playing with us factory workers, lawyers, doctors, university professors, clerical workers, and others from many different walks of life, plus a number of IU students, and a few high school students. It has been very rare that the band has had to use a “ringer.” We need to continue to reach out to a wide swath of the community to bring in new members.
A threat of sorts is the richness of musical organizations in the Bloomington area. For example, there is the Bloomington Brass Band that is sometimes confused with the Bloomington Community Band, and just recently, a new wind ensemble was started in Bloomington (the Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble) that has the potential to drain off some of our more talented players.
VISION AND GOALS
Our vision is to:
– strengthen the Bloomington Community Band as a leading organization where people from all walks of life can continue to enhance their personal musical talents,
– maintain the BCB as an organization that enriches the community by providing free musical entertainment to diverse audiences in a wide geographic area.
In order to ensure that the Bloomington Community Band remains a vibrant organization that continues to grow and thrive in this region, we propose over the next five years to:
– continue our ongoing efforts to recruit new members to the band,
– implement musicianship workshops to improve the quality of the music we play by emphasizing such things as ensemble, volume, dynamics, tuning, etc.,
– build on the investigative work done last year to seek other suitable rehearsal space, paying close attention to developments in the BEAD (Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District) initiative,
– re-open the discussion about improving the means of transporting members and equipment to and from concert sites and evaluate the alternatives,
– substantially increase our budget through aggressive grant writing, appeals to sponsors, and an effort to secure line-item funding from the city,
– investigate the possibility and benefits of paying the conductors and the librarian,
– seek ways to evaluate our concerts and the selection of music from the audience’s point of view in order to supplement the work of the newly established internal Music Advisory Committee, our Web site forum for members, and the annual surveys of band members that are conducted at the end of each season.
– enhance our web site by hiring a paid developer in order to improve its look and functionality and to increase the coverage and types of materials on the site (inclusion of feedback forms for the audience, more historical items, development of a historical database of past members, more pictures, clips of music, implementation of modern web design techniques such as usability assessment and Cascading Style Sheets, etc.),
– create an online database of items in our music library, building on the work of the previous librarian,
– write a history of the Bloomington Community Band and other bands in Bloomington.
The ongoing expense of $150 per year to maintain the BCB web site (https://www.bloomingtoncommunityband.com) has been well worth it. Aside from this cost, there is the one-time expense of hiring a professional web developer that must be factored into an upcoming budget.
The few times when the band has held a recording session, we have depended on one of our members to supply the equipment. At some point, we may want to avail ourselves of a professional recording environment and produce music clips for the web site and a CD that could be sold in order to help support the organization.
The purchase of some large, expensive instruments (e.g., bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, tuba, etc.) that people do not ordinarily own would do much to improve our outreach to the community.
Staffing—One of the more demanding positions in the band in terms of time is that of the librarian. The BCB should move toward hiring someone on a part-time basis to perform these duties. Likewise, there may come a time when the conductors will no longer wish to provide their services gratis.
Budget—For an organization that plays some 20 concerts a year and has 60 members, the budget for the BCB is miniscule. We need to think bigger in order to allow us to reach the next stage of development. A cash budget of $20-25,000 by 2013 should be our goal.
Outreach and Community Development—In terms of new personnel, we could mount a recruiting campaign that targets certain groups (e.g., working with high school band directors, identify talented HS musicians who will not go on to college after graduation; advertising to entering IU students (undergraduates or graduates) who are not music majors, but who could afford the time necessary to participate in the BCB; contacting retirees who long ago put away their instruments, etc.). It has been rare that the band has played in some parts of our IAC region (Brown, Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, and Owen Counties). We should investigate venues that would take us to locations in our region that are infrequently or never visited.
Assessing Risks and Opportunities— To quote an old Irish saying, “Tús maíth leath na hoibre.” (“A good start is half the work.”). It will be incumbent upon the Board of Directors to quickly prioritize the projects outlined in this plan. They should appoint the necessary committees to work with the elected officers to carry out the projects. Timely reports and follow-through on their recommendations are essential.
Accepted by the Board of Directors of the
Bloomington Community Band
March 17, 2008
Lloyd Orr, Chair
Some Historical Notes on the Bloomington Community Band
The Bloomington Community Band (BCB) has been in existence with some interruptions since the 19th century, apparently pre-dating the first Indiana University band. The present band was started with a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission obtained by Gary Wiggins with Bloomington JayCees sponsorship in 1978.
The BCB has performed at many civic events and in the parks and other outdoor venues in Bloomington. For example, each Fourth of July the band provides entertainment on the courthouse square prior to the start of the parade and in recent years has played a concert prior to the start of the Bloomington’s “Picnic with the Pops” Fourth of July Concert. We have also traditionally provided holiday concerts at College Mall and in several of the local nursing homes and retirement communities. BCB concerts have also taken place in many surrounding communities, including Gosport, Elletsville, Spencer, Nashville, Mitchell, Orleans, and in state parks such as Brown County, Spring Mill, and McCormick’s Creek. For a period of time in its early history, the band teamed up with three other community bands (Montgomery County (Crawfordsville), Detroit Diesel Allison (Indianapolis), and the Shelbyville Community Band) to play combined concerts in what was billed as the Hoosier Heartland Band Festival.
The first director of the current BCB was IU School of Music Professor Emeritus Newell Long, who passed away January 4, 1999 at the age of 93. Another Bloomington music educator, Geneva Phillips, was assistant director for a period of time, followed by Bert Langdon, a retired high school band director who moved to Bloomington from New Castle. In the last several years of his life, Newell Long was in failing health, so the associate director at the time, Tim Moore, took on more and more responsibilities, eventually becoming the director of the band around 1995. The associate director is now Dr. Joe Car, a practicing physician in Spencer.
The band has rehearsed in several locations over the years, starting with the JayCees Building that was then on Kinser Pike. Other rehearsal spots included Binford Elementary School at 2300 E. 2nd St., the First Presbyterian Church at 221 E. 6th St., the First Christian Church at 205 E. Kirkwood, and St. Thomas Lutheran Church at 3800 E. 3rd St.