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Friday, April 18, 2014

Manta Band cancels Asia competitions

The much-awaited performance of the CNMI’s Manta Ray Band in the Asian music circuit will no longer push through after the group decided to cancel its participation due to a funding shortage.

This decision was finalized during the members’ meeting Monday last week, as confirmed by musical director and conductor William DeWitt.

“It is true that we had to cancel the Japan-Korea competitive tour. It was a very difficult decision made by our band members after reviewing our financial progress,” DeWitt told Saipan Tribune.

With the clock ticking on the deadline to pay the group’s expenses this month, he said it was becoming apparent that they would fall short of funds. He disclosed that the band is short of about $80,000 to $90,000 to cover all the competitions’ expenses.

Saipan Tribune earlier learned that the Manta Band needed about $150,000 for the Asian music competitions. Of the $40,000 funds it raised, the members contributed $20,000 out of their own pockets.

In previous trips, DeWitt said that they were blessed to obtain the generous support of the Public School System and the executive and legislative branches. The band’s renewed appeals to these sources in November and December were, however, either declined or weren’t responded to.

“We are, of course, very disappointed but mindful that the CNMI is experiencing difficult economic challenges at this time,” he said.

According to DeWitt, band officers and leaders discussed how it was in everyone’s best interests to not postpone their difficult decision any longer, given the uncertainty of receiving further support from the government or PSS.

DeWitt said the band had already raised about $40,000, including pledges. A portion of this amount has already been deposited with World Projects LLC, the host organization for these competitive music festivals. He hopes a portion of the $11,000 deposit will be refunded or at least applied to a future major international performance opportunity.

DeWitt said the band wholeheartedly thanks the private sector for the outpouring of support they have received.

Donors and supporters who would like to ask about how their donations will now be used or to request a refund are encouraged to contact DeWitt.

As for the band’s new plans at this time, DeWitt said they are now preparing for the upcoming 10th Annual Tumon Bay Music Festival in Guam, which is scheduled in March. It was learned that the budget for this trip has yet to be finalized, but it is expected to amount to $40,000 to $45,000, factoring in estimates for food, ground transportation, gas, airfare, and lodging.

This month the band will conduct a fundraising car wash, while a major ticketed concert will be held in February to raise more funds.

According to DeWitt, the invitation to perform and compete in Asia is the probably the most remarkable request the band has ever received, given the rarity of foreign ensembles meeting their strict qualification requirements. For example, the Manta Band had to successfully pass an audition process to perform not only in the adjudicated event, but also for concerts during which no judging will take place.

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