Chichester City Band has unveiled an ambitious vision for the future, one which could secure the band its first permanent home in a history going back more than a century.
Since Tim Cooper took over as musical director just over a year ago, the band has enjoyed an upsurge in confidence. Band chairman Howard Smith is now wanting to take it all to the next level.He has launched Project 2020: A Clear Vision for the Future of Chichester City Band.
To become once again a force to be reckoned with on the contest platform is one of the aims set out, as is to become the band of choice to be engaged by all the local venues. Also important will be to build on its work towards establishing a full training band. But objective number one is a permanent home, something the band has never had: “We have been going since 1897, but we just have never had a permanent home. It means that we find somewhere and then every few years we have to up sticks and move, and then we have to find a new storage space for things, for our music library. It’s a pain basically. Now we are wanting to raise money to be able to make a contribution effectively to buying a lease in one of the new community centres that will be built in one of the new developments happening around Chichester. We are going to try to get together somewhere in the region of about £20,000, and we would be looking for a peppercorn rent in perpetuity. We just need to be able to have access to the centre for two nights a week. Currently we have got about £7,000 saved.”
The band will also be trying to raise money simply for the on-going operation of the band: “It costs something like £14,000 a year to run, and that’s without putting money aside for replacement instruments and uniforms.”
Another key element in the band’s blueprint for the future will be to recruit actively from less-advantaged areas of the community, working on the principle that income should not be a barrier to having the chance to play an instrument.
“We don’t want to just end up with the well-to-do kids.
“The band has a large supply of under-used instruments that we can provide to learners. Playing a musical instrument has been shown to help with other aspects of learning, as well as teaching self-discipline and improving self-esteem.”
As Howard says: “Brass bands are an iconic part of British life. Whether playing in a park, on a bandstand, at a church fete, at a service of remembrance or in a concert hall, we have all heard a brass band play. What is not commonly known is that brass bands are struggling.”
One of the reasons is probably our generally-busier pace of life with its work culture or longer hours. Also a factor is a withdrawal of patronage as compared to the earlier days when mill owners etc often supported their own brass band. Often poor interaction with local musical authorities can be a factor, as can a simple refusal on the part of some bands to change with the times.
“The good news is that many bands have seized the initiative. We want to emulate these successful bands. To get to that point, we have set ourselves a list of objects that we hope to achieve by 2020.”
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