Band says tighter SGA budget will not suffice

Budget cuts by SGA and a lack of financial support from University administrators may result in the famed Marching 100 band literally becoming the “marching 100.”

The FAMU marching band, famous for having up to 400 members marching in the band at any

time, may be cut down to the exact number in its name.

Julian White, director of bands and chair of the music department, said several of the music ensembles, including the Marching 100, received significant cuts in funding for the 2007-2008 school term. After receiving $130,147 last year from SGA for operational expenses, the band requested $377,000 for this upcoming year. However, the band learned at the beginning of April that it was only allotted a drastically reduced $30,000.

“We request what we need, then work with what we get. However, $30,000 is not enough to work with,” said White.

He said, “The (band’s) expenses are rather astronomical.”

Student Senate President Pro-Tempore Mellori Lumpkin explained that an A&S committee of Senate members and students at large put together next year’s budget and the 36th Student Senate voted to accept the committee’s decisions.

“(The Senate) didn’t want to solely fund the band. We want to explore the opportunity of the University administration providing supplemental funding,” said Lumpkin, a 20-year-old business administration student from Bainbridge.

“We were only supposed to be solely funding the band for a few years and that ended a few years ago,” she added. “The time period has expired and now we want to look at the band exploring E&G dollars.”

White cleared up misconceptions that the band is capable of generating its own revenue. White said the monies received for their various performances are “used to supplement” its budget.

The money is needed to pay for necessities including uniform cleaning, instrument repairs and instrument purchases, all of which are the band’s most expensive line items.

Additionally, White said a lack of funding would result in there being no pre-drill, an intensive teaching week where incoming freshman learn marching techniques and the music for the season.

If pre-drill was canceled and incoming freshman had to learn the band fundamentals during freshman orientation, White said,” We would lose about a third of people who come for the band.”

He also emphasized that money for the smaller ensembles was equally important as funding to the marching band.

Many people agree that the band deserves more funding for next year.

“We service the entire University through convocations, parades, pep rallies, pre-game, music on the set, Be out day, coronation and different times that celebrities come to campus,” White said. “We graciously do that, and we are honored to do it because we are a service organization.”

Michael Scott, 24, head drum major for the Marching 100, expressed similar sentiments.

“The Marching 100 takes care of home, and that’s one thing we pride ourselves on,” said music education student from Miami. “It’s sad to see that we don’t have the same support. It’s one thing to say ‘I love the band’ and ‘I support the band’, but your actions say otherwise.”

White said the lack of funding could potentially have negative long-lasting effects.

“The legacy would be tarnished. It’s difficult to recover after you’ve had that type of experience,” White said. “However, I want to emphasize that the quality of the band would not suffer.”

The band’s financial woes have left a negative impact on band members’ morale.

Jarrell Thomas, 24, a band member and senior biology student from Jacksonville, said “It’s real discouraging to go from one of the highest honors in the entertainment business during halftime in front of millions of people, and then come home and receive no funding.”

What’s more is White said he was not too keen on Sen. Elijah Bowdre’s suggestion of a “Keep the Band Alive” fundraiser.

“I’m not necessarily supportive of that,” White said. “It’s a one-time thing. Should we be washing cars and doing things like that for a class?

“We don’t need the publicity of being on the street selling candy to save the band,” he continued.

Die -hard 100 members held different sentiments.

“I’d do anything for the betterment of the band,” said Chris Stroman, 21, a senior psychology student from Miami. “I’m not getting any scholarships. I’m in band because I love music, playing and marching.”

White said he did not feel there was any malicious rationale behind why the band received so little funding.

“I don’t think SGA wanted to not fund the band,” he said. “It seems to be straight across the board of what was funded. It did seem strange that specific organizations were targeted for whatever reason to not receive funding and the band was one of those organizations.”

Lumpkin said at this point the Senate could not go back and change the allocations.

“The only change that can possibly change is through the University administration,” she said.

Furthermore, Lumpkin said, “We will definitely work with setting up a meeting with administration, the band and SGA to find additional funding.”

University administration is optimistic the band will receive more funds.

“We feel confident that everything will work out,” said Lanedra Carroll, director of university relations and public affairs.

Shelby Shipman, associate director of bands, said, “I’m sure it will be worked out. Maybe the budget can be amended in some shape or form so that we will be able to have our pre-drill session.”

Despite the uncertainty of the band’s future, White said, “I’m going full speed ahead. I’m not slowing down with preparations for the season.”