Brass Band asks Danville for increased funding

Published 7:38 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a series focused on agency funding requests made to the City of Danville for fiscal year 2019-20.

Bill Bandy told the City of Danville after taking the job as the director of the Great American Brass Band Festival, he noticed sponsorship levels had dwindled. He said combine that with a reduction in funding from both the city and county, minus two major donors who paid $8,000 apiece last time around, and it’s reduced GABBF’s overall budget by 20 percent.

GABBF was funded by the city for a total of $22,500 last year; this year, it’s asking for $32,000.

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Bandy said in total funding, the City of Danville is the biggest contributor.

Sponsorship “has gone down. I’m here today to ask for your help in potentially bringing that back up,” he said during last Thursday’s agency funding meeting.

Bandy said in trying to do more with less, he is reviewing the amount of bands in the festival’s lineup as well as things like the time in between their sets.

“I’m also reaching out to some new folks to talk to them about funding,” he said.

He said the festival brings in around 25,000 people during its four days, and about $3.4 million to the local economy.

Bandy said he’s been involved with local music classes in order to start an outreach effort to get more youth involved with the festival, as well as met with local band directors.

“How can we take the festival from just a four-day event and make it a part of the community on a quarterly basis? … We can be more to the community than just a four-day event,” Bandy said.

At a recent board meeting, Bandy said it was discussed that “from a funding standpoint, we need to get out here and do some things on our own. So the spark is there.” The committee overseeing GABBF has already started to explore things like community concert series to raise additional funds, he said, among other ideas.

“While we are seeing less money coming in from a sponsorship-donor standpoint, I feel very good about some ideas we have … some new folks who have stepped in, and I feel very good about the future of the festival,” Bandy said.

City Manager Ron Scott asked if there has “been any discussion for a potential for a brass band museum, as a way to provide tourism and connection to that service throughout the year?”

Bandy said he was made aware of the potential in passing, and knows it had previously been discussed as something that could be located inside the Community Arts Center.

CAC Director Niki Kinkade said that was the “initial thought, years ago,” but that other locations have been discussed in the past few years.

Commissioner Denise Terry said she appreciates the outreach attempt into local schools; she said marching band and music changed her daughter’s life. “I caused a little bit of a stir a couple years ago, because I thought that this outreach to the marching band children was already happening, and it wasn’t. I appreciate that you have acknowledged that and are going to do it.”

Bandy said his goal is to reach out to surrounding counties’ school systems, as well.