Ontario Marching Arts Units Tuning Up To Reach Critical MASS
An interim planning group is tuning up for the first meeting of the Marching Arts Summit Series (MASS) by seeking input from interested parties in southern Ontario and beyond on the state of marching arts activities.
The proposal to organize a wide-ranging exchange of views emerged following several informal exchanges of observations and concerns about the changing nature of marching arts activities. Interest and participation in youth drum line and guard activities is booming across North America while field show performance opportunities for all age and alumni drum and bugle corps are rapidly diminishing in many areas. There also seems to be a wide communications gap between youth groups and organizations with older members, making it difficult for all age and alumni organizations to attract new younger members.
Details of the MASS program to be held Saturday, October 25 at M. M. Robinson High School in Burlington will be finalized at the third interim planning session, to be held at the Waterloo Region Police Association Recreation Centre in Cambridge on Friday August 22. Representatives of about a dozen marching arts groups have already met twice to discuss the feasibility of a summit gathering open to all groups, to define a statement of purpose and to identify key issues for in depth discussion.
The purpose of MASS is to promote participation and growth in the entire range of marching arts. The four key issues identified at the June meeting are:
*Creating a closer relationship with all levels of the education system
*Promoting community awareness of marching arts activities
*Creating opportunities for attracting, teaching, retaining participants of all ages
*Developing a new perspective for marching arts participation and performance opportunities
Coordinators for each of the interest areas will seek input from interested parties over the next few weeks to be included in background statements providing the foundation for further investigation and discussion at the October session. Representatives from several groups in western New York and southern Ontario have already expressed interest in participating.
Anyone wishing to make their views known should contact the appropriate coordinator no later than mid-August so the information can be included in the background papers to be prepared for the October session. The coordinators, their affiliations, and email addresses are:
-Education system: Carolyn French, coordinator M. M. Robinson High School Drumline, email: carolyn1753 [at] me [dot] com
-Community awareness: Rick Strouth, interim planning group chair, Scout House Band, email: rstrouth [at] hotmail [dot] com
-Attracting, teaching new participants: Ken Taylor, Optimists Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps, Toronto, email: ktaylor6428 [at] gmail [dot] com
-New perspectives: Rick Dixon, DCAT (Drum Corps Alumni Toronto) and Canadian Brass Ensemble, email: dixonr [at] amtelecom [dot] net
Groups that have already expressed interest in MASS meetings, in addition to those listed above, include Mighty St. Joe’s alumni, Hamburg Kingsmen alumni, Warspite Sea Cadets drum and bugle corps, Toronto Signals, Drum Corps Alumni Toronto (DCAT), Sudbury Blue Saints, Ghost Riders mini corps, Niagara Militaires alumni, University of Buffalo, Scout House Cadets, Simcoe United Alumni, Impact Percussion.
Facilities available at M. M. Robinson High School for the MASS meeting include class rooms as needed once the format is established and the school’s 300 seat studio theatre which features a stage so performance opportunities may be available during the day. The school is located at 2425 Upper Middle Road, just west of Guelph Line in upper Burlington, about two miles north of the Queen Elizabeth Way/Guelph Line interchange.
The Waterloo Region Police Association Recreation Centre is located just south of Highway 401 at 1128 Rife Rd, near the Homer Watson exit from Highway 401 at the west end of Cambridge. Anyone interested in attending the August 22 interim planning session should contact Rick Strouth at email rstrouth [at] hotmail [dot] com or any of the issue coordinators listed above as soon as possible.