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Dixon Municipal Band to launch fundraising campaign to offset city cuts

DIXON – The Dixon Municipal Band will soon launch a fundraising campaign in efforts to become more self-sufficient as a deeper budget cut from the city is on the horizon.

A year ago, the City Council cut $10,000 from the band, from $41,500 to $31,500, and the proposed budget number is likely to drop to $20,000 for fiscal year 2019, which begins May 1.

That number isn’t final as band leaders are hoping for a bit more of a bump while they undergo the new fundraising initiative.

The council plans to discuss the group’s funding during its next budget workshop Monday.

Band fundraising coordinator Dave Johnson said they’ve been working with the city and know another cut is coming, but they are taking a proactive approach to becoming more sustainable.

“We understand the city has to make some tough choices,” he said.

The fundraising campaign will kick off in the next week or so with letters being mailed out, and they’re also thinking of different ways to be creative with business sponsorships.

So far, the band is planning for six concerts, but is hoping to garner enough donations to bring that up to a full summer season of 10 performances. Their initial fundraising target is $10,000.

“It’s going to take time, but we’ll get there,” said new band director Mark Dempsey, who has been part of the band since 2000 and replaces longtime director Mark Bressler.

The band has existed in one form or another since 1851, and the city can levy property tax dollars to fund the band but has not done so since 2014 in order to prioritize other expenses under the tight cap of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law.

However, there’s about $80,000 remaining from when the city used to levy funds for the group, which is where the $20,000 budget will come from. Another $20,000 of that pool is slated to go toward performing arts events at the Historic Dixon Theatre.

Johnson said they are hoping to have about 60 to 70 band members, who are paid $30 a week and bring together a variety of talent from high school students to retirees.

The group has a list of improvements it would like to make – being able to afford a new sound system and pay the performers more – but the first step is reaching out to the community for financial support to continue on for years to come.

“A band like ours is an important part of what makes Dixon; it’s part of the DNA of the community,” Johnson said.

How to donate

Call Dixon Municipal Band Director Mark Dempsey at 217-853-6840 or Manager Cathy James at 815-499-9426 for more information or to donate to the band.

Donations can also be mailed to Dixon City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

A new website for the band is in the works and can be found at, where online donating will soon be available.

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