An open letter from the Blue Stars’ director
Dear Drum Corps Fans,
As the director of the Blue Stars, I feel it is now appropriate for me to comment on the corps’ financial situation. There has been much speculation about how the corps got into this position, and I would like to shed some light on the subject.
Toward the end of the 2002 season, the Blue Stars saw a serious drop off in the money received from our bingo program. We hoped it was a seasonal issue (there was some historical precedent), but that was not the case. Revenue continued to erode through the fall and into the winter. Beginning in January of 2003 the corps actually had bingo sessions that lost money. This situation was not limited to the Blue Stars. Almost all bingo programs in the La Crosse area were experiencing the same drop off. In March of 2003 we had to shut the doors. The risk of losing significant money was too great.
Seeing the revenue slide from bingo, the corps’ board had a meeting last fall much like the one that will take place this weekend. They made difficult decisions to ensure the Blue Stars took the field in 2003. Many positions with the corps that were paid in the past became volunteer positions. A program was put in place to sign up corporate sponsors (I’m proud to say that more than 60 businesses stepped forward to support the corps in small and large ways in 2003). Every budget line was examined to see if it could be trimmed. If it didn’t adversely affect the safety or health of the members it was cut or reduced.
To raise money we had a successful raffle, sold Krispy Kreme donuts at numerous events, had an organized alumni fund drive and held numerous other small fundraising events. Our summer schedule was set up in “dink and dunk” fashion — Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois all the way to DeKalb. Weekends only the first two weeks, then a two-week tour to DeKalb. During first tour, however, we went through La Crosse four times to take advantage of free housing and our fuel sponsorship. Second tour was the minimum tour to get to Orlando. We chose not to go to Canada because of cost. We found free housing along the way on days when there weren’t shows.
What the board had to ask itself last fall was this: If we field a corps in 2003, will the members be safe and have a positive experience? Will the product be up to the standards of the Blue Stars? Will we be in a better financial position at the end of the season then we are now? The board last fall said that yes it was all possible, and they were right. All three of those questions were answered with a definite yes.
As far as the finances go, however, the battle is only half over. The corps is still looking for ways to fully replace the revenue that was lost from bingo. And, yes, we are still paying off some old debt. If we had a crystal ball, we would have made some different decisions over the past few years, but at the time the board made the calls that seemed best for the corps.
When the board meets this weekend, they will ask themselves the same three questions: Will the members be safe and have a positive experience? Will the product be up to the standards of the Blue Stars? And, will the corps be in a better financial position at the end of the 2004 season then it is right now?
I’m optimistic that the answer to these questions will again be yes. YOU CAN HELP! Your donations are not being squandered or wasted. I have never been part of a drum corps that is as careful with its money as the Blue Stars are right now. Your donations are being used to ensure that the Blue Stars will endure long into the future.
You can contribute online at www.bluestars.org, or you can send donations to:
PO Box 2523
La Crosse, WI 54602-2523
I want to take a moment to thank everyone who contributed last year for helping to make the 2003 season one of the Blue Stars’ best. And give an advance thanks to everyone who contributes to the corps’ 2004 campaign. You are truly appreciated.
Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps