Citing budget woes, Army pulls the plug on talent shows
July 29, 2006
After 26 years of showcasing Army talent, the All-Army Battle of Bands and the Stars of Tomorrow contests have been called off because of a lack of funding.
Installation Management Agency Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials made the announcement Friday, just three weeks before the regional competition in Europe was supposed to take place in Katterbach, Germany.
Individuals and group performers registered for the event, including bands, solo singers and comedians, were to perform at the garrison level, with the winners advancing to the regional and eventually, the All-Army levels.
“These competitions have never been canceled in the history of IMA-Europe,” said Victoria Palmer, MWR Marketing Chief for IMA-Europe.
“We looked for every means to resource them this year and regrettably, just could not.”
IMA-Europe will save about $25,000 by canceling the event, said Jim Sohre, entertainment director at IMA-Europe headquarters in Heidelberg.
The money would have been used to pay for the awards, judges, and sound equipment.
“I regret it very much,” said Sohre, who began planning this year’s contest back in February and has been involved in the event since 1995.
“This was the longest running entertainment program at IMA-Europe.”
Dan Gasparino, MWR Recreation Branch Chief for IMA-Europe, extended his apologies for having to call off the events and said that he hopes they will take place again in the future.
The last-minute cancellation has caught some individual garrison coordinators and potential performers off guard.
Members of the band Strike Force, last year’s European Battle of Bands winner, were registered at the U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg to compete again this year.
“Of course, they’re going to be disappointed,” said Geoffrey Larkin, community recreation officer at the USAG Heidelberg, where the local round of competition has been called off.
Wade Wood, entertainment director at the U.S. Army Garrison Darmstadt, said he found out about the cancelation Thursday, just two days before the Darmstadt contest.
He had already made all of the arrangements and lined up the volunteers for the event.
“It’s really unfortunate that it’s not being held this year, but I understand that there are other important things that require the funding,” he said.
Although the competition aspect and chance to advance were eliminated, Wood said he will go forward with his local event by inviting people and groups to perform anyway.
So far, the majority of groups and singers who pre-registered are still planning to show, and Wood said he expects a good crowd for the event.
“I’ve found that for the participants, what’s more important than the recognition or the awards is bringing your talent on stage and sharing it with other people,” Wood said.
People who still want to show off their talents are invited to come to the Darmstadt Garrison’s ESCAPE Club Friday for a one-on-one critique from entertainment experts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public performance begins at 6 p.m.