PR received from the British Brass Band Registry which we are happy to print in full... The British Brass Band Registry Management Group Statement In response to various queries in relation to recent reductions in the total number of registered contesting bands in England; The British Brass Band Registry Management Group wish to issue the attached statement, identifying some of the reasons that it considers contribute to the current situation, together with suggested changes that address the issues. We would be obliged if this statement could be published in its entirety and not altered in any way. This statement can also be viewed on the British Brass Band Registry web site www.bbbr.co.uk The British Brass Band Registry. (“Registry Rights” assigned to The BFBB October 2001) The message from many English bands to the British Brass Band Registry in the early months of 2005 is loud and clear. It is becoming an increasingly difficult task to attend the Qualifying events to the National Finals. Statistical analysis of the entries over the last ten years or so appears to emphasize this message. The decline in entries is closely mirrored by a parallel decline in the number of bands registered with the BBBR. In simple numeric terms, the movement in England has lost sixty contesting bands within the last ten years. There have been several band mergers, bands have folded and subsequently reformed and even a small number of completely new bands have appeared. The majority of the sixty however, have simply disappeared, and the trend is firmly in the wrong direction. There has been a steady reduction of about four registered bands each year from 1996 until 2004 when a total of eighteen were lost in one year alone. This may have been a blip, but nonetheless one that we cannot afford to ignore. It is encouraging however, that the level of individual participation has increased during the same ten year period. We now have over seventeen thousand and four hundred individual players registered with the BBBR as opposed to seventeen thousand and three hundred ten years ago. We can deduce much from these statistics; there is a healthy individual participation but at a lower frequency. There is increased logistical difficulty in maintaining a long term contesting band. The reasons are complex, largely a result of changes in the social climate. The trend appears likely to continue into 2005 with little indication of an immediate upturn in fortunes. We must demonstrate flexibility and adapt to the change in climate. There are 507 bands registered in England but only 424 in this years regionals, why? Are we simply not interested or have we found the constraints too overwhelming? The BFBB/Registry will find out, we will on a national basis consult with the 83 bands to identify their individual reasons. Collectively they will display a pattern that we should use to redress the decreasing entry trend The long-term solution is beyond the scope of individual contests and the BBBR. It is therefore vital that we create a united movement and develop a coherent national strategy, working in partnership through national campaigns and lobbying in order to reverse the apparent decline. In the meantime, there is much we can do to halt what looks like self-inflicted damage to the movement. It has become apparent to the BBBR that a number of the band demises have in fact been self-inflicted. It is a fact that at least two bands this year look likely to fold early. The reason? Both bands for different reasons did not enter their respective regional contest. Shortly after their decision, players eager to pursue their hobby transferred registrations to other bands in order to participate in the contest. The sad result is that both bands are likely to discontinue. This is not opportunism on the part of other bands, but in some cases sheer desperation. How many more of the lost sixty have suffered the same fate? The cause of the problem is that the national contest rules are restrictive. Had there been a facility to incorporate these players through a regulated guest player system, the players could have helped struggling bands and it is highly probable that their existing band would not have folded, and may even have been able to enter in the first place. The BBBR philosophy is always to strive to deliver a quality service. This can only be achieved by delivering a service that meets the user requirements through continual user consultation in order to define our procedures. Hence we consult daily with band Contest Secretaries, have performed two national Registry Rules Ballots and as a result, the Registry system procedures and rules are defined by our users. This philosophy should be extended into the contest sphere through a formal method of full consultation, in order to deliver a total system that meets the users needs. A new spirit of radicalism is necessary, the registration system has recognised the experience of bands, and has reacted and adapted to assist bands to enter contests through a relaxation of its rules, but has moved as far as it can. Recognition of the difficulties is now necessary within the Nationals Rules and they should now adapt to the new climate and the two rule sets should compliment each other. The registry suggests that a relaxation of the contest rules should be accompanied by significant tightening of registration rules such that when a player registers to a band it should be for a minimum twelve-month period. There should be no transfer/moves within twelve months of registering to a band, and bands should then be allowed to assist one another through a regulated borrowed player system. This would help to solidify bands should they find themselves unable to enter the nationals, at the same time players would not be prohibited from participation and be free to assist other bands with less acute difficulties. Any tightening of registration rules in isolation would have a dramatic negative effect upon bands and subsequently the contest; therefore it must be a collective response. It is vital that bands are fully incorporated within the consultation process during any rule change process in order to define a system that meets their needs. These changes together would help to create an atmosphere of comradeship and encourage healthy competition, replacing the conflicts that surround us at present. The retrogressionists will not agree, but the choice is stark, we either adapt to the new climate or continue the course of defeatism.