The Mississippi Community
Symphonic Band

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The Mississippi Community Symphonic Band 
"Ideas" Document

This document contains various ideas we have come across as we consider what we need to do to set up the band. We have simply written them down so we don't forget them later. 

The information in this document is not binding, nor is it set in concrete -- it is under development and subject to revision.

If after reading this document and the other planning documents, you have suggestions to make, please get in touch with the Band Organizers.

To download a Microsoft Word version of this document (138k), click here.


 

The Mississippi Community Symphonic Band

 

IDEAS

For Organizing

The Mississippi Community Symphonic Bands, Inc.

 

These ideas are as yet in no particular order – simply jotted down as they come to mind. The ideas set out here aren’t “required”, and sometimes they’re not even requested – they’re simply things we should think about as we form our band to be the best we can make it.

 

CONTENTS

Multiple Bands.

Symphonic Band.

Community Concert Band.

Marching Band.

Senior Band.

Youth Band.

Other Spinoff Groups.

Multiple Conductors.

If We Have Just One Band.

If We Have Multiple Bands.

Additional Conductors.

Community Involvement

Government Involvement

Business Involvement

Individual Involvement

School Affiliations.

Union Affiliation.

Chamber of Commerce.

The Mississippi Center for Nonprofits.

Young Artist Competition, Featured Guest Performers.

Scholarship or Other Awards.

Instrument Adoption Program..

Small Ensembles.

Special Events Concerts.

Concert Narrator

Fund Raising Possibilities.

Music Programs (Printed)

Grants.

Corporate Contributions.

Individual Contributions.

Ticket Sales.

Recordings.

Other Fund Raising Projects.

The Concerts.

Concert Format

Specialty Concerts.

Out-of-Area Concerts.

Professional Affiliations for Bands.

The Association of Concert Bands.

American Bandmasters Association.

National Band Association.

World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.

Band Identity.

Logo.

Mascot

Band Colors.

Motto.

Uniform..

Letterhead and Business Cards.

“Spirit” Decals and Stickers.

Vehicles.

Publicity.

Growing Our Audience.

Growing Our Membership.

Growing Our Reputation.

Building The Band’s Budget

Projected Expenses.

Projected Income.

Building The Band Budget

 

None of the bands listed here are put forth as being set in stone. They are merely suggestions for what we might consider doing when we get large enough.

The main point in considering multiple bands is this: When high-level musicians are mixed in an ensemble with near-beginners, no one is happy. The players of lesser ability are frustrated by their inability to play the harder music, and the good players are frustrated at being “held back” from doing the better music.

With at least two bands, we can have a place for the better musicians to have fun and be challenged, and another band for those of less accomplished abilities to also have fun and make good music.

Here are some possible ways to have multiple bands.

Symphonic Band

The Symphonic Band would be the Premiere Performing Group of the MCSB, Inc. It would be membership-restricted to instrumentalists who are

1.      Proficient enough on their instruments to learn Grade 5 music

2.      Willing to put in the time and practice necessary to learn the repertoire

3.      Willing to be regular and faithful in attendance at rehearsals and performances

4.      Willing to abide by the Band Philosophies


This would be the advanced group, with admission by audition or invitation of the Music Director, and would focus a bit more on serious music. This would be the group that aspires to professional-caliber performances, and is willing to work to make it so.

There will be an indefinite upper limit on membership, at roughly twice the minimum number of people needed for a fully-instrumented band, so as to provide part coverage for any absent member.

Community Concert Band

The Community Concert Band would be an open-membership band. Basically, anyone who wants to play and is willing to make it to the rehearsals and performances, and is willing to abide by Band Philosophies, is welcome to join.

There will be no upper limit on membership, although if the band gets so large as to be unwieldy, we might consider splitting off a Senior Band or possibly a Youth Band.

Marching Band

This will be an open membership band, including anyone who wants to play in a marching band.

This band will be available for any marching band requests in the communities we serve.

Senior Band

If the regular Community Concert Band gets large enough to split, we might consider forming a separate band for older musicians. The age for this band would depend on how many people were available at the various age levels, and would be voted on by the Board of Directors.

Several other community bands have senior bands for age 50 and up.

This would be an excellent split to make, because this band could play a somewhat different genre of music from the regular band, one more appealing to musicians of that generation. They could also play concerts in more specific venues.

Youth Band

If the number of young players becomes large enough to form a separate band, we should consider forming the Community Youth Band. We could make the inclusive age 18 and below, or under 21, depending on the number of people available.

This would be an excellent venue for home school musicians to participate, and for other high-school age people to have an opportunity to play with a different group.

This group could specialize in music appropriate for the generation, and could play at specific-for-them venues.

Other Spinoff Groups

There are countless possibilities for MCSB-related spinoff ensembles. We might eventually spawn such other groups as a Circus Band, a Stage Band, a Community Orchestra, a Brass Quintet, a Woodwind Quintet, a Flute Choir, a Clarinet Choir, a Saxophone Choir, a Brass Choir or British Brass Band, and/or a Tuba Choir.

If We Have Just One Band

If there’s just one band, we will have the Music Director be the principal conductor.

We might also consider having a single associate conductor, so as to have a designated conductor available if the Music Director is unable to attend a rehearsal or performance.

The Music Director will be the primary leader, but both conductors should work closely and cooperatively to achieve the Band Goals.

If We Have Multiple Bands

The Music Director will be the primary conductor of the Symphonic Band, and there should be an associate conductor of this band, who may or may not be the director of one of the other bands.

Each additional band should have its own primary director, separate from the Music Director.

The Music Director will be in charge of and oversee the activities of all other directors. He or she will consult regularly on all activities of governing each band, mostly as an approval authority to ensure the activities fall within the philosophies and goals of the MSCBI, but the director of each group will be the primary actor in charge of initiating and governing these activities.

Additional Conductors

Another position we might consider adding some day is that of Conductor Emeritus. This position could be awarded to a retired director who has contributed immensely to the MCSB or to band music in general.

It should be the goal of the entire band, and specifically of the Publicity Team if and when we get one, to make the MCSB the symbol of Community Pride for central Mississippi.

Government Involvement

We need to get a list of all government entities and appropriate agencies, such as cities (the mayors), state fine arts groups, and other arts councils, parks and recreation departments (yes, many bands get funding through them!) and approach each one of them for their endorsement and support.

Where possible, we should ask each of them for a contribution, especially if it can be made ongoing.

We should consider whether it would be a good thing to have the MCSB made into a state sponsored activity. If we are made such, it will mean more funding and better access to state agencies, activities, and property, but it also might incur some obligations that might be inconvenient.

Business Involvement

We should eventually approach every single business in the communities we serve, and ask them for their financial support and for their backing.

It might be a good idea to have window decals or wall placards made up that say something like “We are proud supporters of the Mississippi Community Symphonic Bands, Inc.” and give these out to our supporters for display at their offices. We might consider putting the year on it, or having add-on stickers with the years they have supported us.

Our goal here is to make the MCSB a cause celebre, to make the band a true community representative, with the overall attitude from everyone that “We love our band!”

We should always ask for financial support from a business, and whether a business offers its financial support or not, we should also ask them if they would post notices of our concerts (for retail businesses).

As far as financial support goes, it could take the form of a direct contribution, or purchasing an ad in our music programs. It could be that a particular donor would wish to purchase a specific piece of music for the band, or a specific instrument or piece of equipment. All is fine.

Individual Involvement

If  we handle it right, we will be able to build a list of hundreds, possibly even thousands of individual MSCB supporters.

There should be a dedicated person or team of people whose main job it is to maintain this list of people, to stay in touch with these people, to let them know continually that we appreciate their support, to let them know of upcoming events, and to remind them each year that we would appreciate their support again.

One critical item for this area is to always personally thank individual contributors. This would best be done by a letter from the Music Director and/or the Chairperson of the Board. The letter can be made up by the team and given to the Director or Chair for signatures. Yes, these letters and signatures are a major inconvenience, but they are critical to continued support.

School Affiliations

We should pursue a formal “Performance Course For Credit” affiliation with one of the local colleges.

This means the Music Director will always need to be someone with a Master’s Degree or higher in Music, so as to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Once we get this affiliation, then students from any of the local colleges could perform in the MCSB and receive college credit for it.

Union Affiliation

An officer of the band, most likely the Music Director, should talk regularly with the local AFM union officers.

We want the union on board with us as much as possible. We should have a goal of helping each other out as much as we can. Such talks could uncover new ways we can help each other.

We should exploit as much as possible any affiliation with the Music Performance Trust Funds (see www.mptf.org) and their relationship with the union and the RIAA.

Chamber of Commerce

We might want to look into the pros and cons of joining the Chamber of Commerce. At the very least we should explore somehow letting them (and their membership) know regularly that we do exist.

The Mississippi Center for Nonprofits

It would be a good idea for the MCSB to join the MSCNP. There is a wealth of information, training, and local networking to be gained from membership in this organization.

Annual membership dues are about $60.

Young Artist Competition, Featured Guest Performers

We should look into the possibility of having one or more local young artists as a featured soloist with the band. There may already exist a mechanism whereby a winner can be chosen, or we might originate one ourselves.

Additionally, we should consider having a local singing group augment the band during a concert each year, possibly the Christmas Concert. The group could be a high school choir, a church choir, or an independent choral society. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for years they had a group called the “Singing Principals” that was made up entrely of school principals and assistant principals.

Also, we should consider inviting high-profile people from outside Mississippi to perform as guest artists.

Using these types of featured presentations would greatly enhance the community involvement and professional image of the MCSB.

Scholarship or Other Awards

We might consider offering a scholarship to the winner of the Young Artist Competition.

The Gainesville (FL) Community Band annually provides a new quality trumpet to a deserving middle school student.

Instrument Adoption Program

Another wonderful activity we might consider for some of our volunteer workers is collecting old unused band instruments and making them available to underprivileged children who otherwise might not be able to join a band.

Small Ensembles

We might consider sponsoring smaller subordinate units of the MCSB, such as a Brass Quintet, a Woodwind Quintet, a Tuba Choir, a Flute Choir, a Saxophone Choir, Dixieland Group, Swing Band, etc.

These ensembles could be available to play in smaller venues.

Special Events Concerts

We should examine everything we can find about what other groups have done that has been very successful. Please see the Concerts section of this document, beginning on page 12, for more discussion.

For example, once a year, the Boca Pops (Boca Raton, Florida) would have a “Christmas Sing-Along” concert that was always packed. Other bands have played at Fourth of July Picnics on the Town Square.

We should consider including these sorts of events. This would be a task for a team under the Business Director.

Concert Narrator

The narrator at a concert is seen as the “Voice of the Band,” and as such we should go to great lengths to get the right person to do this. Ideally, it would be a local celebrity, someone well-known, but also someone who is a professional vocal performer that will perform the narration in a way that gets the entire audience caught up in the excitement of the event.

As important as the person doing the speaking are the words spoken. It would be ideal to have an introduction to each piece on the program, but the introduction must be extremely well-written. Therefore, we should consider having a committee determine what sort of text should be in the narration, and seeing how we can get the best possible writer to prepare it.

Besides the business and individual involvement mentioned above, we should also consider the following.

Music Programs (Printed)

We really need a whole committee to handle this. We need them to decide whether to sell ads for a whole season or by the concert. I suggest whole-season, because we can get more for each ad, and it will be easier to administer. However, we might get more money totally for individual program or even quarterly ads. We need the committee to decide how much to sell the ads for.

We need them to actually sell the ads.

We need them to handle all the details of getting the concert program numbers and notes from the music committee and having the programs printed for each concert.

Another suggestion would be to have all the ad pages printed at once, then print the program pages and assemble the programs for each concert. The program pages could be printed on paper of a different color so these pages would be easy to locate, or they could be printed on plain white paper so they look more elegant.

Grants

There is a ton of money out there in foundations and in government programs, just waiting for us to ask for it.

We need a dedicated person or team of people to research what grants are available and to apply for every one for which we qualify. For example, the Arlington (TX) Community Band has an officer position “Grant Coordinator.”

Corporate Contributions

This goes hand-in-hand with Business Involvement (see page 5 above). We need a person-in-charge and a team of people who will contact all businesses in the communities we service. We need to give every business in our area the opportunity to contribute to the MCSB.

This will mean we need some good recordkeeping. We need to track who we’ve called and who we haven’t. We need to track business names and the names of the people we need to talk to. We need to track who has given, and what the business owners say when they opt not to support us. We need to track which businesses have given and how much, and we need to be certain to be profuse in our thanks to those who have.

We also need to continually ask about matching contributions. Some employers will match contributions made by individuals. Something to check out.

This needs to be an ongoing project, and the more people we can get to help with this, the easier it will be for all team members, and the more contributions we will get.

We also need to consolidate all business solicitations, so there will be only one call (per time period – year, half year, etc.) that takes care of asking such things as (a) will you send us a donation? (b)would you like to donate the purchase of a [stand | chair | light | instrument | piece of music ]? (c) would you buy an ad in our program? (d) would you be willing to post a flyer for our concerts in your store? If so, can we send you a PDF file for you to print, or would you rather have us get you a larger poster?

We need to coordinate our efforts and decide on a budgetary stragegy. For example, are we going to give free concerts and exist solely on donations? Or are we going to charge admission to concerts and rely on fewer  donations? The business solicitations we engage in will be guided by the budgetary strategy we decide on.

Individual Contributions

We will have two basic types of contributions: those from people who are members of the band and staff, and those from outside. We need to determine whether we are going to be a membership organization, and if so, what the structure of the membership will be.

If we decide to be a membership organization, then the structure of the membership groups (suggest players, staff, and supporters) will guide how we solicit individual contributions.

For now, this section addresses the issue with the band NOT being a membership organization.

Contributions from Band Players and Staff Members. We need to determine whether there will be a “joining fee,” which some bands refer to as a “stand fee,” and whether there will be dues, and if so, will they be monthly or annual.

On a first impression, it seems it would be best to have absolutely no fees for members. No joining fee, no stand fee, and no dues. Instead, it might be better to treat players and staff as any other band supporter, and solicit their contributions that way.

Contributions from Supporters. This will require a person-in-charge and a team of people to do the work. It can be the same individuals as those who solicit Corporate Contributions. (See Corporate Contributions on page 9 above.)

It is critical that all solicitation efforts be made with superb recordkeeping. We must generate and maintain a list of prospects, a list of contributors, and a list of who we’ve called and who we haven’t, and what they said. For those who are willing to contribute, we need to track what they promise and what they deliver. We need to make it easy, easy, easy for them to give us money. There should be a “Donations” page on the website, we should accept credit cards (the Fox Valley [IL] Concert Band accepts PayPal on their website), and we should be ready to mail easy-response papers (including SASE) to those who say they want them.

We must be effusive in our thanks to our contributors, and we should tell them so often. We should attempt to send each of them a plain and simple “Thank you” during the year, one that doesn’t ask for more money. We should send them gifts if we can, and have at least one special-for-them invitation-only concert per year.

We should always keep in mind that our supporters are the ones who attend our concerts, and they are the ones who will provide most of our financial backing. We should treat them accordingly.

Ticket Sales

We need to have a group carefully study whether we should charge for tickets, and if so, how much. Some other groups do, some don’t.

Recordings

We should record each concert, and advance-sell the CDs right at the concerts. We should also have all prior concert CDs available for purchase on the website.

A big caution here is to watch out that we get copyright permissions first.

We need a special team of workers to handle the recording, and another team of workers to handle the sales and shipping of CDs.

Other Fund Raising Projects

Any subset of the group that wants to take on a fund raising project, ought to be able to do so with the approval of the Business Director. Other bands have successfully raised funds through silent auctions, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, cookbook sales, and more. The Bettendorf Park Band (IA) gets sponsors for their summer Ice Cream Social Concerts.

The Concerts

In our initial planning documents, we set a goal of having a minumum of four concerts a year. This would be done well as seasonal concerts.

 

However, as the band grows, as our reputation grows, and as our supporters in our communities grow, we will be in ever-increasing demand to perform.

 

The Allentown Band performs sometimes 50 concerts a year. This is the oldest community band in existence, and is very well organized, so they can handle it. The Florence Community Band in Florence, KY, plays about 10 concerts a year. Other community bands regularly play 20 or more concerts (performances)a year, ranging from formal auditorium concerts to nursing home concerts to holiday parades.

 

We need to be very careful about how many concerts we are willing to obligate ourselves for. We must regularly poll the playing members to see how much of a performance demand they are willing to take on.

 

It might be a good idea to develop a procedure for requesting a concert and determining whether we will be able to do it. A good chore for a committee of band members.

Concert Format

We want all our concerts to be fun, entertaining, and a great experience for the audience. To do this we need three things: The correct music, played well, and a good narration.

 

The “Correct Music” for a concert. Traditionally, the Music Director selects the music for the concerts. This is the way it works with most other bands, including most other community bands.

            However, it’s been shown far too often that a single individual’s judgement in repertoire selection is sadly lacking. Consequently, we will have a Music Committee that works with the Music Director to select the pieces to be played at each concert. This is written into our bylaws. The Music Director will have the final approval authority for music selection, but with the inputs of several knowledgeable people, the selection should be much more interesting to the audience.

            We should be very careful and diligent in formulating guidance for the Music Committee, and in selecting who should be on this committee.

            The bottom line is that we must play music that audiences will enjoy, music that will make them want to come back to the next concert. If we don’t, they won’t. We’ve got to keep in mind that this is a community band, and we are here to play for the community.

Playing The Music Well. This is the responsibility mostly of the Music Director. But it is also the responsibility of the players. The Music Director interprets the music, teaches the music (interpretation) to the players, and motivates the players to become better at playing it. The Director is also responsible for making sure the players are in tune, are playing together, and for having the right instrumentation for the pieces being played. The players are responsible for learning the music and putting in enough practice on their instruments so they can execute the music well.

            Make no mistake, the quality of the music is what the audiences come for. Do it well and they’ll come back. Do it badly and only the families of the players will show up next time.

The Elements of Concert Narration. One of the most glaring distinctions between good concerts and great concerts is great narration. When narration is done correctly, it brings the audience into the concert and makes them feel more like participants and less like sideline spectators. We must be careful though, because badly-done narration is worse than no narration at all. The elements of good narration are good copy and a good speaker.

            Good Copy is not something that happens by accident, nor is it something that you can do last-minute, or entrust to just anyone willing to give it a stab. Good copy is itself entertaining. It can have historical facts, surprising statements, or amusing anecdotes. It’s always interesting to tell about some local person or group, especially if they are involved with the band. Good copy doesn’t have to be long or short, but it does have to be interesting.

            This is something that is so important we might consider copywriting auditions, or hiring a professional copywriter to provide us with interesting narration copy.

            A Good Speaker is essential to effective narration. Please see the segment on Concert Narrator (under Community Involvement) on page 8 for more discussion of this issue. The bottom line here is the Narrator must be able to mesmerize the audience, to seize their attention and hold them fascinated by what’s being said, and leave them breathless and eager to hear the piece being introduced.

Specialty Concerts

In addition to our regularly-scheduled concerts, we should consider having a few specialty concerts each year. Such specialty concerts could include performancs such as these.

Invitation-Only Concerts for Supporters. We might have a special, one-night-only concert that is invitation only for our supporters. We could start at the top contribution bracket, and invite people or businesses, with a limited time to respond and get the seats of their choice before we go to the next contribution bracket. For example, if we have an auditorium with 800 seats, we could first invite the $2500 + contributors, and give them a week to request tickets. If we only got requests for 100 tickets, we would then offer tickets to the $1500-$2500 contributors, etc.

Children’s Concerts. We might consider having a series of concerts each year specifically targeting elementary school age children. And perhaps another concert specifically for those considering joining their school band. When giving these concerts, we must be sure to include home schoolers.

Specialty Music Concerts. We might consider having some concerts specifically dedicated to broadway musicals or shows, or to Dixieland music, or Big Band music, or “Oldies,” or even a sing-along. It might be a good idea to poll the audiences during other concerts as to whether they would like to hear this kind of concert, and we could also post a poll on our website.

Out-of-Area Concerts

It is quite possible that the MCSB will receive requests to play outside our Central Mississippi area. As we grow and our reputation builds, it is highly probable that we will be invited to perform out of state.

We should be ready for this when it happens, and have procedures in place to handle such requests. Probably the best thing would be to take it to the band and see if there are enough people who will go to make a full band.

For example, the City Band of Fairfax, Virginia, was invited in 1996 to perform at the National Band Association Convention in New Orleans. The Allentown, Pennsylvania band has made three trips to Europe, and the Harbor Springs (MI) Community Band has gone to Europe three times as well.

Membership in these organizations will very likely increase our exposure beyond Mississippi, build our reputation, and possibly open opportunities to perform at these organizations’ conventions.

The Association of Concert Bands

We should join this association as soon as we can afford the $50 fee. They have some very good resources and when we join they will send us a book “The Band Builder’s Manual.” Joining the ACB will also give us the opportunity to get blanket performance rights to ASCAP and BMI music, for an annual fee of $200. Membership also entitles the MCSB to discounts at many online music stores.

The ACB also has an annual convention, seminars, and a newsletter.

Note: There is no ACB Regional Membership Coordinator in Mississippi, so perhaps we have an opportunity here to help them out as well.

American Bandmasters Association

Need to check this out. Possibly for the Music Director.

National Band Association

They charge a fee, but don’t say how much. I’ve asked and am waiting their reply.

World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles

Need to check this out too. Regular membership is $50 a year, but I think it’s for individuals, not bands.

We might consider how important it is for the players and volunteers of the MCSB to have a distinct identity, to feel they are part of a living, vibrant group with a great and growing reputation.

Logo

One of the first critical components of group identity is the logo. We have an iterim logo we’re using now, but it might be a good idea to explore whatever avenues we can find to make sure we have the best one for us.

We might consider having a logo design competition, or hiring a designer on spec. Or we might wait until we get enough people and see if they even want to change from what we have now.

Mascot

In addition to the logo, we might also want to consider having a mascot. As we use the term here, the word “mascot” could mean a fictional or cartoon character. This mascot character would represent “The Band” in publications, press releases, and announcements.

The mascot should be immediately recognizable not just by band members, but by the entire community.

Band Colors

Another component of identity is the MCSB colors. We should consider adopting a two or three color sequence as our “official” colors. We should do this fairly early on, as just about everything else we do will use these colors. Includng the logo.

Motto

We might consider adopting a motto. The Fresno Community Concert Band’s motto is “You don’t stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing.”

It might be a good idea to hold a motto contest among members.

Uniform

In the early phases, we will probably need to ask the players to supply their own black suit or long dress for concerts. But as we grow and evolve, it might be a good idea to consider having MCSB-owned concert uniforms.

Several bands issue only jackets and have the players supply everything else.

The uniforms should reflect the theme colors, and we might also consider having different uniforms for different functions, and different uniforms for different bands.

For example, we might have formal mess jackets for formal concerts, and polo-style shirts for informal concerts, such as “in the park.” We might have green jackets for the Community Concert Band and gold jackets for the Symphonic Band.

Another thing to consider might be participation recognition. For example we could do stripes or hash marks on jacket sleeves: a thin one for every one year, and a fat one for every five years of participation in the MCSB.

Letterhead and Business Cards

Once we get our logo and colors, we should purchase letterhead for official communications, and business cards for the officers. This will lend a much stronger aura of professionalism to the MCSB.

“Spirit” Decals and Stickers

Early on, it would be a good idea to offer window decals (also suitable for instrument cases) and bumper stickers promoting the MCSB. These could contain the logo and/or the mascot, and could be serious or humorous.

All members and volunteer workers would be encouraged to purchase and display these items. They could be given away as prizes or incentives. We could also give them to donors as a “thank-you.”

Vehicles

Eventually, the band may get its own trailer or truck. When we do, the vehicles will need to have appropriate paint jobs with the logo and/or mascot.

We should consider having three main purposes for our publicity: Growing our audience, growing our band membership, and growing our reputation.

Growing Our Audience

It’s a foregone conclusion that there are thousands of people in this area who would love to come to a concert. If they knew about it.

The main purpose for Audience Attendance Publicity is to make sure as many people as possible know about the concert, including especially when and where it is.

A secondary purpose would be to impress on people who think they might want to come but just aren’t sure yet, that the concert is great, the band is wonderful, and that they’ll have one of the best entertainment experiences of their lives at one of our concerts. This overlaps with reputation.

Of course, this also means we have to go to great pains to ensure the audiences do indeed have a great experience.

Growing Our Membership

There is no doubt there are tons of musicians in the area who would love a chance to play their instruments with the MCSB. There must be even more people who don’t play an instrument but would love to help the band in some other way.

The main purpose for Membership Publicity should be to reach out to all these people and let them know they’re not only welcome, they’re wanted!

A secondary purpose for Membership Publicity should be to spotlight individual members and their contributions to the band. This could be in the band’s newsletter or it could be in one of the local papers.

We can never tell our members – both players and volunteer workers – how much we appreciate them. We should take every opportunity to do it publically.

Growing Our Reputation

It’s an accepted truth that success begets success, and if we can establish from the outset that we are a great band, then nurture and feed that notion, it will become our reputation, our public image.

Our goal for Reputation Publicity is to have the MCSB become the Central Mississippi “darling,” the group that everyone loves, that people are proud to say comes from their community. We want everyone in the area to not just know about the band, but to have a warm feeling in their heart for it, and to feel the band is one of their best community representatives.

To do this, we must have all members of the band promoting this image, this reputation. We must take every opportunity to build up our people and what they’ve done, and the band’s accomplishments, and spread the word as widely as we can.

As part of this element, it would probably be a good idea to keep a history of all concerts, including the names of the players, the names of the supporting volunteer workers, the list of music played, and the number of people in the audience.

We are going to have to put together a three-year proposed budget to submit with our 501(c)(3) application. To do this, we will need a projection of what our costs are going to be, and what our income might be. I think we’ll have a much easier time projecting our costs. The income will depend entirely on how many people we get out there beating the bushes, and how effective our fund raising coordinator is.

Projected Expenses

The Lakeland (FL) Concert Band says it costs about $1500 to put on a concert, and they get their programs printed free from a print shop. They don’t pay their players or conductors, but I imagine they pay for a truck, for the auditorium, insurance, etc.

We can also expect the following expenses, some for each concert, some as a once-only expense.

Sheet Music. We will have this expense for rental music or when we buy it for our music library. I’m in favor of us building up our music library as much as we can, but until then, we’ll have to rent (borrow and pay postage) what we need.

Stands and Lights. We can’t count on every place we will be giving a concert to have stands and stand lights in the case of insufficient stage lighting. So eventually we will need to get our own. How soon we need to get them is still up in the air. We’ll need to address this pretty soon.

Instruments. There are some instruments we just can’t expect the players to provide on their own. Particularly the percussion. We will need a concert bass drum right away, and probably a set of timpani. We will need to look at getting one or two keyboard percussion instruments, and eventually all the rest of the equipment needed in the percussion pit. Finally, depending on which players have their own instruments, we need to look at getting some of the larger instruments, such as tubas, baritone saxes, bass clarinets, etc.

On the subject of instruments, even though this addresses income, we should consider charging an instrument fee to any players that do not provide their own instruments. We should give our players the choice of providing their own instruments, or paying an instrument fee and providing all required maintenance on their instrument. For example, if someone uses an MCSB baritone saxophone and it gets rained on and ruins the pads, that person is responsible for paying to get them replaced.

Insurance. We will need liability insurance for rehearsals and concerts. We will need insurance for the directors. We will need insurance for any and all property and equipment we own.

Uniforms.  If and when we get uniforms, this will be an expense. Personally, I’m in favor of uniforms, but not right away.

A Podium. Many places we play and rehearse will probably already have a conductor’s podium. However, we can’t count on it always being there, so we should consider getting one. This can probably be made by one of our members, just for the cost of materials (plywood and carpet). We might even find a local shop who would do it for free as a donation.

Transportation. For every concert, we will need to transport some things to the concert venue. Percussion, large instruments, maybe music stands, lights, a podium, etc. For this we will need to buy or rent a trailer or truck, or find someone who owns one that we can use. If we borrow one from someone, we will need extra insurance. In any case, we might consider always getting transportation insurance, depending on the value of what’s being transported.

Expenses Bottom Line. We need to write down as many projected expenses as we can think of. It must include how much we think it will be, and when we think we will have to spend the money. This will be the job of the BAND TREASURER. The Treasurer may need to enlist the assistance of a number of people to help.

Projected Income

We need to be able to project income for the band, so we can provide for our expenses. As of now, I envision seven possible income stream sources: (1) Band Member dues or stand fees; (2) Concert admission fees or donations; (3) Individual support donations; (4) Corporate Support Donations; (5) Sales of Band Paraphernalia, such as shirts, decals, mugs, CDs, etc., (6) Government Agency support, such as the Mississippi Council for the Arts, city Parks & Recreation Departments, etc.; (7) Grants from foundations and endowments that sponsor the arts.

Band Member Dues or Stand Fees: In researching over 200 websites for various community bands around the country, I find that about half charge their members annual or seasonal dues, and the rest do not. We need to determine whether we will charge dues or fees, and if so, how much.

Those bands that do charge fees sometimes have provisions for fee waivers for members with special circumstances.

Concert Admission Fees or Donations: In researching the websites of other bands, I find that approximately ¾ of the bands offer totally free concerts. Most of them take up donations at the concerts. Of those that charge admission to their concerts, the admission fees range from $5 to $39 per person, with the vast majority being in the $10 to $15 range.

We need to decide whether we will have admission fees or free concerts, and if there are fees, how much should they be.

Two things to think about – If we have two bands, then we could charge admission for the Symphonic Band, and have free concerts by the Community Concert Band. AND it might not be a bad idea to put it to the band membership, and hold a voting poll on our website and in the newspaper. It might be some good publicity. Or we could hold a voting poll from everyone who sends a contribution. Worth considering.

Individual Support Donations. This area, along with the next (Corporate Support Donations) needs to be very well managed. We need one strong person in charge of keeping track of who the prospects are, who the donors are and how much they gave and when, and staying in touch with the donors to ensure they feel warm and happy about supporting the band and will continue to do so.

Corporate Support Donations: This area might be combined with the individual support donations area. It needs equally meticulous attention to tracking and giving grateful feedback. Some of the differences are that corporations frequently will not donate annually, while others will. We need to be sure to understand which is which and interact with them accordingly. As with the individual supporters, we need to strike just exactly the right balance between staying in touch with them just enough, and not being a pest or a nag. Another thing to keep in mind is that frequently a corporation will support a specific project (such as “We’re raising $25,000 to buy uniforms”) when they are less enthusiastic about supporting general operating funds.

Sales of Band Paraphernalia: There’s no doubt members of the band and the staff will want to have several items with the band logo on them. It would be a great idea to make these items also available at the concerts (or any performance venue) and on the website, for supporters.

We need to have one person to oversee the “Item Sales” area, to work with a committee to decide what items to offer, what and how much to keep in stock, to manage manage and coordinate the team that handles the sales to band members, mans the sales booths at the concerts, and fulfills the orders that come in on the website.

Government Agency Support: At least one third the community bands I’ve reviewed state on their websites that they get support from the so-and-so state commission for the arts, or from the such-and-such city parks and recreation department. We need to look into this as soon as we can, and we need to continue to pursue getting funding through any state agencies we can find that might remotely support the arts and community development. This is an area where we don’t have to worry about being a pest or a nag. Sometimes an agency won’t support something one year and will do a complete change of position the next and support it. We need to be there whenever that happens.

Grants From Foundations And Endowments: There is a huge number of foundations and endowments in the state, the region, and the country who support the arts. We need one person in charge and a team of people to research who these foundations and endowments are, and apply to each and every one of them for support.

Some of these organizations will offer operational or startup support, such as “$50,000 for five years of operations,” while others will only support specific projects, such as “$5,500 for a double Bb Tuba.” We need to be well aware of which organizations offer which type of support, and not waste our time applying to them for something they won’t support.

Bottom Line on Income: It seems each income stream will need its own team of people handling it. The leader of each team of people will need to work up anticipated (or hoped-for) figures and dates, and report them to the BAND TREASURER, who will use them in compiling the Band Budget.

Building The Band Budget

Building and maintaining the budget is the responsibility of the BAND TREASURER. The Treasurer will gather and consolidate all the projected expenses, and all the projected income, and will use these figures to compile the Band Budget.

We will need a three-year budget projection to apply for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, but the IRS recognizes that for a brand new organization, this projection is mostly guesswork supplemented by educated wishful thinking.

However, as we progress in time, we’ll have some real figures we can use to modify what we expect of the future. The Band Treasurer should update the current year’s budget at least quarterly, and the budget for the next year periodically as well.

 

 

 

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