GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Allouez Village Band is among many community performing groups in a wait-and-see mode because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Normally, the 80-member band performs the third Monday of the month from fall through spring at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay, with special concerts held at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Concerts have drawn well from 1981, when the band was founded by Robert Seering and friends. Mike Ajango(sample review from a concert at Green Bay West High School) has led the band since 2001. At times, the band has played to full houses in the 1,000-seat Meyer Theatre.
According to the band’s Facebook site, “We’re hoping to be able to resume concerts in September and are closely monitoring the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for group gatherings. The safety of our members and audience is our main concern. Another factor is the capacity limits that our performance venues have in place. Right now, most of them are allowing audiences of 20-25 percent capacity, which translates to approximately 200-225 people for the Meyer Theatre. We also are dependent on the Green Bay (Public) Schools – the band currently rehearses at the Washington Middle School band room, and the schools are not allowing any groups to use facilities right now.
“To make things even more difficult for us, last fall, the Village of Allouez sold the Community Center to a private realtor/builder. The Community Center was our home base where we kept all of our equipment, music library and band equipment trailer. For now, we’ve put everything in a temporary storage unit while we search for an affordable rental option.”
The Allouez Community Center was located at the corner of South Webster Avenue (2143) and Dauphin Street. Among its many uses, the building was used as a polling place – now moved to the Village Hall for those voters.
The building was sold to a private business.
Brent Hussin, business manager for the band, added details in response to emailed questions.
“We’ve made the decision to cancel our spring concerts and are hoping to be able to start rehearsals in August or September and start our concerts again in the fall,” Hussin says. “It all depends on the schools opening and theaters being able to open at full capacity. We also have the issue of our audience venturing out to the concerts. Having the vaccine available definitely helps us with that.”
The temporary storage space is “a 10 by 20-foot storage unit, and we can’t get at things easily,” he says.
The goal is to find “a small office area – big enough for file cabinets, desk table and copier – a space where we can keep the equipment, probably 10 by 20 feet and a secure place where we can park our trailer,” he says.
“Because the band is non-profit, we don’t have a steady source of income and we rely entirely on donations,” Hussin says. “The donations help cover the cost of renting the Meyer Theatre and Weidner Center, but there’s not enough after those expenses to cover office rental and utilities. We have a little money put aside that will keep us going for a year or two, but it’s going to be a struggle to keep the band going without corporate or village assistance.”
The organization is exploring possibilities, including those that would include a name change.
“About the only good thing about this mess is that we have about six-seven months to try and come up with a solution,” Hussin says.