DCA & DCI announce partnership agreement for organizations’ 2024 and 2025 competitive seasons


Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and Drum Corps International (DCI) will partner for the 2024 and 2025 competitive seasons to produce, promote and expand the “DCI All-Age Class.”

Under the agreement, DCA corps will perform under their own competitive rules while adhering to the operating policies of DCI; with the goal of creating mutual success through the wide-reaching support and promotion of the unique opportunities provided through participation in All-Age drum corps and attendance at their events .

Additional details of the newly established partnership will be made available later this summer.​

What this means

For the past several years, the boards of directors of Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and Drum Corps International (DCI) have been collaborating on several fronts to sustain and grow the drum corps activity.

This past winter, at the request of DCA, a proposal was presented by DCI CEO Dan Acheson and DCA president John Carr to DCA corps directors, outlining the potential framework of an “All-Age Class” plan. The proposal was reviewed and discussed at length, and was ultimately approved by the DCA corps directors for implementation in 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was contained in the proposal?
The proposal recommended the integration of DCA into DCI as an “All-Age Class,” maintaining existing DCA rules, judging criteria, and weekend-only format.

Why was this proposal brought forward?
Over the past decade, DCA has observed a considerable decline in the number of participating corps and a significant decline in championship ticket sales. DCA show sponsors have also been struggling to fill shows with a sufficient number of competing units to ensure the viability of the event.

During the same time frame, DCI Open Class corps have sometimes struggled for performance opportunities. With both circuits sharing very similar missions, this move is intended to leverage efficiencies to ensure greater success for all.

How does this integration benefit the DCA circuit and DCA member corps?
The partnership with DCI provides for greater exposure of DCA corps to new audiences, and provides access to key DCI resources including event management expertise, participant health, wellness and safety programs, potential partnerships and an expanded marketing reach.

What is DCI All-Age Class?
The DCI All-Age Class will consist of current DCA member corps, coordinated by existing DCA president John Carr. The current DCA competitive rules will continue to apply to all DCI All-Age corps. DCI policies relating to operational areas such as participant safety, SafeSport® training, music licensing and other key areas will apply.

Will the rules for DCA/DCI All-Age corps change?
Current DCA rules will apply, and are subject to existing rule change procedures.

Will the performance schedule change?
DCI All-Age corps will perform mostly on weekends as DCA has in the past. Championships will be moved from Labor Day weekend to the second weekend in August in line with the DCI World Championships.

Where will DCI All-Age Championships be held?
DCI All-Age Championship finals will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday morning and afternoon in Indianapolis, prior to the start of the DCI World Championship Finals event.

How will this impact DCA corps financially?
For most DCA corps, this change will represent an increase in costs due to expenses relating to travel and housing for the World Championships in Indianapolis.

Will I be able to see DCI World Class, Open Class, and All-Age Class corps in the same show?
As future schedules are created, the goal is to fully leverage opportunities to showcase a diverse lineup of corps across classes to the greatest degree and as often as possible within the existing parameters of the tour.

DCA Announcement Regarding ’24-’25 Seasons


DCA and DCI have agreed on a proposal to partner together for the 2024/2025 competitive seasons under the heading of a DCI All-AGE DIVISION.

The competitive rules of DCA and operating policies of DCI will be implemented to achieve success for the all age brand of drum corps.

Both DCA and DCI will be working out the details followed by a formal announcement in the near future.

Bluecoats returning to Stark County to train in Alliance for 2023 season

Coming Home: The Bluecoats returning to Stark County to train in Alliance for 2023 season

ALLIANCE − The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps is returning to Stark County to get ready for its season.

Bluecoats 2019

After several years at Indiana Wesleyan University, the 2016 world champions will come home to train six weeks at the University of Mount Union.

About 250 members of the Canton-based competitive drum and bugle corps, including staff, will stay at Mount Union from May 25 through July 4. Most of the group is from outside the area.

With the group’s arrival comes opportunity for the local economy.

“They bring a lot of people who come to just watch their practices,” said Rick Baxter, president of the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce. “That’s going to bring people into town which should benefit some of our restaurants.”

Alliance area businesses, like Funtimes Fun Park, are rolling out the welcome mat for The Bluecoats who will spend six-weeks training at the University of Mount Union. Already, local and university officials have been encouraging restaurants, stores and other attractions to draw the Bluecoats in with specials and discounts.

“We want business owners to send as big of a warm welcome as they can,” Baxter said.

Mount Union becomes Bluecoats central

The Bluecoats were searching for a new location to train and Mount Union answered their call.

Bluecoats Chief Executive Officer Mike Scott said his group, whose members have an average age of 20, will turn the university campus into “like a small city.” They will be staying in three residential halls and four townhouses, training outside and inside campus facilities, and temporarily moving their offices there.

Their 21-performance national tour runs July 5 to Aug. 12, with a stop Aug. 7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

“Opening Night Community Celebration” with the Bluecoats and several other performing groups takes place July 1 in Kehres Stadium at the University of Mount Union in Alliance. Neighboring residents should expect to hear the group perform regularly, sometimes into the evening hours. Melissa Gardner, vice president of marketing at Mount Union, said there are plans to invite residents to a special event with the Bluecoats.

“We are reaching out to neighbors to let them know what is happening,” said Pat Heddlestone, vice president of business affairs at Mount Union.

In addition to the practices, the Bluecoats also will host an overnight camp, The Blue Way Summer Arts Camp, at Mount Union for students ages 14-21. The camp, which has fees for participants, will be June 30 and July 1. Registration is required.

The university also will host an Opening Night Community Celebration at Kehres Stadium, with the Bluecoats and several other groups, including youths from the camp, performing. Tickets are $25. That event should be another opportunity for restaurants, hotels and other businesses to gain patrons, Scott said.

Mount Union will be ready for the Bluecoats.

“These folks are going to be here for six weeks and they’ll have Mondays off from practice,” Heddlestone said. “We expect them to be in the community, having meals, getting away from the day-to-day grind.”

Bluecoats, Mount Union hope this camp becomes a long-term deal

Bluecoats 2019

Mount Union officials believe the Bluecoats will increase visibility for the university and the Carnation City, along with providing another connection with prospective students.

“It allows us to utilize facilities over the summer,” Gardner said. “It’s a great tie-in with our visual and performing arts programs on campus and allows us to make some connections with prospective students and this well-known organization.”

Another benefit, Heddlestone said, is that the Bluecoats plan to eat meals on campus when they practice, providing steady work for employees of the university’s food service provider, AVI Fresh, at least through the six-week camp. Past summer months were “hit or miss” for these workers, he said.

“They’re going to be serving three meals a day,” Heddlestone said.

All of these potential benefits are reasons the Bluecoats and Mount Union hope this year’s trial run moves to a long-term relationship.

“It is our desire to make this our new home,” said the Bluecoats’ Scott.

Heddlestone said they went with a one-year contract this summer to see how the Bluecoats mesh with other summer camps on campus.

“If it all goes well and they’re happy and we’re happy, then we’d like to see them stay (long-term),” he said.

2023 Drum Corps Associates Tour Schedule

2023 DCA Season

 1 Bridgeport, CT
 8 Clifton, NJ
15 Landisville, PA
16 Virtual Stream 01
29 Williamsport, PA

19 Mount Vernon, OH
   Mount Olive, NJ
20 Virtual Stream 02
26 Reading, PA
   Seymour, CT

 1 DCA I&E & Mini-Corps Competition - Rochester, NY
 2 DCA World Championships - Prelims - Rochester, NY
 3 DCA World Championships - Alumni Spectacular - Rochester, NY
   DCA World Championships Finals - Rochester, NY

Bluecoats Alumni Corps sets the stage for Rhythm IN BLUE reboot



Hundreds of alumni of Canton, Ohio’s Bluecoats made a memorable splash at the 2022 DCI World Championship Semifinals — performing with the Bluecoats 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps.

But Bluecoats alumni had been performing together long before the summer of 2022.

A past participant in Drum Corps International’s SoundSport program, Bluecoats’ alumni-focused Rhythm IN BLUE has, for a number of years, entertained fans across the DCI Summer Tour.

Capitalizing on their SoundSport experience in addition to the success and widespread reach of their 2022 alumni corps, the Bluecoats are taking the opportunity to reboot their Rhythm IN BLUE ensemble, opening the doors to the group to any and all performers 18 years or older starting in 2023.

The ultimate aim is to provide the “Bluecoats Experience” at a lesser time commitment and lower barrier to entry for participants.

“SoundSport fills a unique niche in the marching arts community,” said Rhythm IN BLUE education coordinator Rachel Spencer. “We can have a student-centered and performance-based approach, without the costs of a full touring drum corps model.”

For the 2023 SoundSport relaunch of Rhythm IN BLUE, the group will be working on a six-minute show remotely throughout the winter and spring. It’s an educational process the group fine tuned as part of last summer’s alumni corps. In all, the group has plans to meet just four weekends over the summer, with seven performance opportunities on their 2023 schedule. It will conclude with DCI’s SoundSport International Music & Food Festival in Indianapolis, August 12.


For that six-minute production, director Jay Wise says that Rhythm IN BLUE is looking forward to “branching out and investigating the SoundSport genre.” With the influence of Bluecoats’ accomplished designers, Wise said that Rhythm IN BLUE’s productions will carry a similar style and tone to the World Class corps’ programming.

“It’s got to be cool,” he said. “And it’s got to be good. So, that’s what we’re trying to aim to do. You look at our product, whatever it will be, and go, ‘Oh, that’s totally the Bluecoats, but I’ve never seen the Bluecoats like that.”

An added bonus, the all-inclusive, any-instrument nature of SoundSport allows for ultimate creativity.

“Our creative team loves this idea, because there are really no rules,” Wise said. “You can really make it what you want to make it.”



VMAPA Executive Director Resigns


Santa Clara, CA. March 8, 2023 – The Vanguard Music and Performing Arts (VMAPA) Board of Directors announces the resignation of VMAPA Executive Director Jeremy Van Wert with gratitude for his work with the organization. A mutual agreement will allow Mr. Van Wert to continue with the organization until March 17, 2023, to ensure a successful transition of responsibilities and programs.

Mr. Van Wert was named VMAPA Interim co-Executive Director in July 2020 and became Executive Director in 2021. Since then, he has been instrumental in leading the organization in many new initiatives and innovations, particularly during uncertain times brought about by the pandemic. Mr. Van Wert’s contributions and accomplishments include the development of virtual fundraisers, the production of 2021’s “Wait for Me” original performance video, the engagement of alumni through projects such as the Vanguard Historical Society, supporting the formalization of the Vanguard Hall of Fame procedures, the establishment of a new Health and Wellness program for performers, the exploration of new market opportunities, and the execution of partnerships, such as Southwest Airlines, to further the Vanguard brand. Returning to the post-pandemic DCI competitive stage in 2022, the Santa Clara Vanguard earned a top-5 placement, and the Vanguard Cadets celebrated their seventh Open Class gold medal while Mr. Van Wert served as Executive Director. Most recently, Mr. Van Wert has been supporting a team to improve the experience of Vanguard Bingo.

“It has been an honor to serve as the Executive Director of Vanguard Music and Performing Arts for the past two and a half years,” says Van Wert. “I want to express my deep appreciation to all of those who have supported, dedicated themselves, and contributed to the organization’s success during my tenure. As I step down from this role, my greatest hope is that Vanguard will continue to provide a transformative, life altering, and enriching experience for high achieving performers. I wish the organization all the best in its path forward.”

The VMAPA Board of Directors sincerely thanks Mr. Van Wert for his dedication and commitment to Vanguard during his time as Executive Director. While VMAPA is presently focused on optimizing operations and prioritizing those efforts, we’d like to thank our current management team, which will continue running the organization’s day-to-day needs. The Board of Directors also continues to assess organizational needs in furtherance of VMAPA’s mission to enrich lives by increasing opportunities for participation, education, and excellence in the performing arts. On Behalf of the Board of Directors,

Amy Lipshy

President | Board Chair

Vanguard Music and Performing Arts

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