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BOA, ISSMA cancel fall marching band season

Undated photo: Penn HS marching band from Mishawaka, IN. (photo courtesy: Wes Mills)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana marching band season has ground to a halt for thousands of Hoosier high school students who take part in competitions throughout the fall.

Indianapolis-based nonprofit Music for All announced Tuesday it is canceling the 2020 Bands of America Championships due to the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BOA decision comes less than a week since the Indiana State School Music Association announced it is canceling all ISSMA live marching band competitions.

While BOA and ISSMA are separate organizations, many Indiana high school marching bands compete in both arenas.

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of the students, band directors, staff, volunteers, spectators, and others associated with our programs remain our number one priority,” said a statement from Music for All. “With this extraordinary development, we share in the deep disappointment of the thousands of performing students, teachers, and supporters.”

The cancellations come as high school marching bands across the Hoosier state had already begun summer practice sessions.

ISSMA says approximately 200 schools participate in the marching band events each fall, with competitions beginning in September and occurring nearly every weekend until November.

The high school music association says marching bands have implemented guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that “guidelines and measures could not be effectively put in place to ensure a safe environment” for students, directors, supporting personnel, judges, workers, and spectators at a live marching band event.

BOA hosts regional competitions across the U.S. with a national competition, Bands of America Grand National Championships, held at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was scheduled for mid-November.

“As with most of us, Music for All has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ticket sales and event-related revenue from our Bands of America Championships is normally what sustains us year-round, serving more than 150,000 student and teacher participants each year,” said Debbie Laferty Asbill, Music for All vice president of marketing and communications.

ISSMA and Music for All say they are evaluating options, including a virtual competition.

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