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Sioux Falls Municipal Band funding still in jeopardy

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 10:24 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

As the Sioux Falls City Council continues to balance the city’s budget for 2021, funding for the Sioux Falls Municipal Band is still up in the air.

As of right now, the city’s proposed 2021 budget has cut the historic band from the Parks and Recreation Department. But, members of the band, as well as residents within the community, aren’t going to let the band be taken away easily.

Peter Folliard, Dean of the Augustana University School of Music, says this is not the first time that a musical organization has been on the chopping block.

“Often, what we always see around this, is that when you poke at this, you poke the bear, and this is something that affects everybody,” Folliard said.

Bandmaster of the Sioux Falls Municipal Band Christopher Hill says he is not surprised to see the community back the band.

“I’m thrilled, but not surprised, because this is a band that has a lot of support throughout the community,” Hill said.

Hill has been with the Sioux Falls Municipal Band for more than two decades. He says taking the band away now would be like erasing history.

“This is a legendary band,” Hill said. “The Smithsonian has a recording of (the band) in their permanent collection, because we had done a performance that was so important, historically, that they wanted to make sure that they had a recording of us.”

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, several folks advocating for the band showed up to voice their opinions. That public input, along with hundreds of emails and phone calls, seem to be having an impact on those who have the final say.

“We’re going to replace that funding,” Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr said. “The Municipal Band is key to our community, it has been around for 101 years, and not on my watch are we going to make that cut.”

The Sioux Falls Municipal Band is one of the oldest and most prestigious bands in the nation and has been performing without interruption since 1919.

“My understanding, from the (TenHaken) administration, is that it’s not a money cut, it’s a role of government cut, what is essential?” Starr said. “So, the money is there to fund the band, the decision from the policy-making standpoint, what the council does, is do we want to continue to have a Municipal Band? And I say absolutely, yes.”

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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