In the Spring of 2016 a group of music educators and arts advocates starting talking about creating a competitive drum and bugle corps in the state of New Mexico. As time passed this dialogue gradually grew into a more solid movement which became known as the Arsenal Initiative. Under the leadership of project director J. Spenser Lotz an instructional staff and a board of directors were gradually assembled, paving the way for Arsenal Performing Arts to incorporate just as the 2016 DCI Summer Tour was beginning. Acknowledging the need for caution in order to provide financial security for the new organization, the decision was made to wait until the 2017 season to field a corps. Following a series of successful clinics to increase interest in the fledgling organization, Arsenal enrolled in Drum Corps International’s SoundSport program, with plans to use the SoundSport model to grow and solidify the organization before moving to Open Class.
Every summer, we welcome a diverse cast of student performers that have traveled from throughout the U.S. to call Arsenal home. We’re proud of the diversity of our membership, a fact that we celebrate with the inclusion of our members’ state flags on the sleeve of their corps jacket. If you are a student under the age of 21 interested in marching, we would love to invite you to audition for the chance to join us this year. Our season starts in the winter with our auditions followed by monthly training camps as we prepare for our summer tour. Although we primarily award membership contracts during the winter and spring, we consistently have openings for new, dedicated students, and so we encourage anyone interested in marching to reach out to us to find out if spots are still available. We recommend that anyone interested in marching Drum Corps, either with Arsenal or elsewhere, attend one of our audition camps.
If you’re interested in becoming a member, please visit us on Facebook to receive announcements directly!
Our auditions are designed to provide students with a complete Arsenal Experience and are structured the same way as our monthly rehearsal camps. Auditionees will be expected to prepare materials in advance and then travel to wherever the camp is located, spending the night and eating meals provided by the corps over the course of the weekend. Following our first round of audition camps we will have a callback camp where we will further evaluate potential members and offer them contracts based on their improvement between camps.
If offered a position with Arsenal, members will be asked to attend monthly training camps leading up to our “all-days” in the summer. For monthly camps, members spend the weekend with the corps, with Arsenal providing meals and housing. Between these camps our staff will often give ‘homework’ in the form of video assignments to help the corps continue to improve between camps.
Spring training (or All-Days) is a period of all-day rehearsals in which members of the corps relocate to a shared location and spend each day working to perfect the show before leaving on tour. This season, Arsenal will be providing housing and meals for the entirety of our all-days.
The schedule for Spring Training and our Monthly Rehearsal Camps is finalized in the fall and dates are provided to students auditioning for the corps.
Arsenal aims to continuously expand our tour with more travel and shows every year. In 2017 we performed locally in Albuquerque and Las Cruces before traveling to San Antonio to compete in the Southwestern Championship and in 2018 we added stops in Arizona and Colorado. In 2019 we hope to expand the tour further, with more information to be announced as we get closer to the season.
If accepted as a performing member of Arsenal, students will be expected to pay what is commonly referred to as tour fees. It is our goal to keep these as low as possible, however, as our program continues to grow our fees are likewise expected to increase. While we can’t give you an exact amount yet, we are aiming to keep the total cost of marching in 2019 to around $1,800. These dues cover the cost of everything associated with the camps and summer experience, including meals, transportation, education, and housing. A minimum monthly payment schedule will be required from every member accepted into the corps, and more details concerning tuition will be made available as we get closer to auditions.
As part of our ongoing commitment to keeping our program accessible, we’ve put together a member tuition fundraising guide to help students raise money to march. This guide is free and available for download here.
Parents, have questions about Drum Corps? Wondering what it is exactly your child is interested in? Please visit this link to read more about the activity. You can also email our director at [email protected] with any questions you might have. We try to make sure that parents are cc’d on all emails sent to corps members, but if you’re not receiving email when you think you should be, please let us know!
Lastly, our program would not be possible without our parents, who not only allow their children to march, but also volunteer countless hours to help prepare meals, drive corps vehicles, tailor our uniforms, and run our souvie booth. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out a volunteer form here.