Who Are the Confederation of Ulster Bands?
Bands by their very nature have always been autonomous and self-sufficient.
In the past, bands have largely worked independently from each other and very little work has been done to collectively develop and promote the work that they do. It was also clear to members within the community that bands had common issues and concerns and limited places for obtaining advice.
One current development to bring more co-ordination and structure to marching bands is the establishment of local band forums. These forums provide a successful example of real community development by empowering bandsmen with the skills necessary to articulate their own interests and concerns. In real terms they are helping to provide a comprehensive source of information; sharing good practice; providing training; developing common policies and procedures; fostering good relations and acting on behalf of member bands on relevant issues.
To date there are 16 local band forums, all local bandsmen and women dealing with local issues. Since their formation, these Bands Forums have made steady progress and are securing greater recognition from the Police, Council, Government Bodies, Parades Commission and also the wider community.
The natural progression for the forums was a further overarching co-ordinating body.
This has been established in the Confederation of Ulster Bands. Formed in May 2009, CUB describes itself as “an umbrella body comprised of bands forums from across Ulster, emanating from the Protestant, Unionist or Loyalist traditions.”
Each local band forum has representation of 2 members on the CUB committee and as more local forums are created, the central CUB committee grows. This facilitates the flow of information in both directions.
The local forums can bring issues and concerns forward where they can be discussed and possibly be acted upon. And similarly, information can be more easily spread throughout the entire movement from the committee outwards. CUB want to try as best as possible to work for the entire scene as a whole, provide a credible and united voice for the band community and showcase bands positively and creatively.
CUB held their first conference in November 2009 in order to consult the wider band community, and this proved to be extremely positive and encouraging.
A number of important issues were raised, key amongst which was the general feeling that marching bands do not receive the recognition for the contribution they make. Media coverage of marching bands is often restricted to controversial issues and often the reporting perpetuated stereotypes that are perception rather than reality. It was also widely felt that in terms of resources, the marching bands sector receives little support in comparison with other cultural and community arts organisations.
The key benefit already being demonstrated by CUB is the communication advantages. For the first time information is being spread widely throughout the province, regardless of band genre.
We’re working together, pro-actively for the advancement of a movement in which we have all invested a considerable amount of time and effort.
Under the Confederation of Ulster Bands ‘umbrella’, the 16 forums now represent approx 400 of the 620+ bands in NI, and more local forums are being initiated throughout the province.
A local and united voice for bands is essential in dealing with issues regarding parades, policing and funding.
Confederation of Ulster Bands