Ups and Downs – the patterns of band engagements over the year

A bit of more recent history. Given the almost total lack of band engagements over the last 12 months, I thought I’d look back to when we all had full diaries and, apart from preparing for the upcoming area contests, would now be resting from our December playing exertions.

Between 2001 and 2017 the IBEW hosted an engagements calendar with details of brass band concerts, contests and other events. For various reasons, not least declining support from bands and band organisations, the facility faltered from 2014 and I finally withdrew it in 2017. However, it was a success for the first 14 years.

Over that time over 75,000 events were listed from some 2,500 different bands/groups – it is difficult to be more precise about the bands as there were too many name variations to make an accurate count easy – these also included some military bands, Salvation Army bands, youth/training bands, overseas bands and ensembles, which to some extent accounts for there being more than the 1,200 or so brass bands that actually existed in the UK. Around 2,800 of these events were contests, festivals or similar occasions, the rest being individual (or joint) band engagements.

The pattern of engagements through a year will not be a surprise to any bandsperson, with the bulk of concerts etc. taking place in the summer, and a similar peak at Christmas. This first graph shows the engagements on a monthly basis over the 14 years – the maximum being 2,431 in December 2008.

This second graph shows the average number of engagements each calendar month (from 54 in January to 1,049 in December). Of course these only represent a proportion of all the band engagements that took place and also, although overseas events were listed, they only accounted for perhaps 5% of the total, so a much greater proportion of those were not listed at all.

Happier times – the Harrogate Band performing at the Happygate Festival in 2018.

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