Blue Knights Cancel 2020 DCI Summer Tour

To our Blue Knights, Alumni, Donors, Volunteers, and Family:

After several weeks of closely monitoring the situation–in coordination with Drum Corps International (DCI) and other drum corps (read more)–the Blue Knights have made the difficult decision to cancel our planning for the 2020 summer national tour due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. This will be the first time the Blue Knights will not field a drum and bugle corps in 62 years. 

While we recognize the hard work and preparation already put into this summer by our members and staff, this decision allows everyone in the Blue Knights to focus on their individual safety and well-being, and help their community get through this crisis. We have made a commitment to our members, staff, alumni, fans, and supporters to prioritize their health & safety first. 

The response to this global health crisis is unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world for each and every one of us. Please know we are thinking of you during this difficult time. 

This decision will have a major impact on the Blue Knights, Ascend Performing Arts’ show events, education clinics, and all of the DCI community. While we do not have the resources to absorb the costs of canceling the summer, we will work diligently with the support of our Blue Knights Alumni, Family, and Supporters to come back stronger in 2021 (click here to learn how you can help). 

Once we take a moment to catch our breath and check in with our members and staff, we will shift gears to prepare for next season now that we know what we must do. Our intent is to make sure Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue Knights will be here for you now and in the future. 

We realize there are many questions. We have included a question & answer section below with more details coming soon. Please follow us on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for updates on our next steps forward.

We wish you good health, we will #MarchOn, and we look forward to the day when our Blue Knights family is back together!

I Go On

Mark Arnold
Chief Executive Officer
Ascend Performing Arts

Questions & Answers

How has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affected the Blue Knights?

It started with our April training camp being converted to a virtual experience to comply with CDC guidelines in response to COVID-19 outbreak (learn more). A delayed start to the season was being planned. However, the COVID-19 pandemic escalated to the point where it would be irresponsible of us to continue to tour as we put the health & safety of our members and staff as our #1 priority.

Will there be a 2021 DCI season?

Yes! While this global pandemic has placed the entire drum corps activity at risk, the decision to cancel the summer national tour now allows us to focus our planning for the 2021 season. We know there will likely be challenges but feel confident in the future of the activity that we all love and are so passionate about. 

Will the Blue Knights return for 2021?

Yes! Ascend Performing Arts (parent organization of the Blue Knights ensembles) began contingency planning for the possibility of the outbreak impacting the 2020 summer national tour in late January.

We can survive this crisis but…we are looking to our Blue Knights Alumni, Family and Supporters to help us by supporting future initiatives as they are announced. We are looking forward to getting back on the field with an exciting show that we are sure you’ll love.

All of the resources at our disposal will be needed to finance refunds and cancellation costs, plus keeping our Ascend Performing Arts staff working on long-term planning and survival of the organization. Five of our largest fundraisers were cancelled along with the season. We will need the support of the greater Blue Knights family to help us weather this challenge.

How can I help?

Today your gift to the Blue Knights is more important than ever. Without appearance fees and show revenue, we will depend on your merchandise purchases and charitable donations to support our daily operations, even while the drum corps is not on the field. You can help your Blue Knights overcome this crisis stronger and ready for a fantastic future of providing life-changing experiences for 60 more years.

There are many ways you can help:

Make a one-time contribution. If you’re able to contribute, every dollar is needed and appreciated. The recently signed Congressional stimulus bill now allows a one-time, above-the-line deduction for cash contributions of up to $300. All taxpayers would be eligible to take the deduction, even people who use the standard deduction. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year.

Become a Sustaining Member. Small amounts add up over time. Please consider making your donation automatic each month or quarter.

Buy Blue Knights Gear. Even though our Blue Knights merchandise trailer will not be on the road this summer, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting the latest and greatest BK merchandise! Every sale supports the organization directly.

Re-invest your “drum corps dollars.”Blue Knights fans are incredible and each summer they invest a lot of money into the DCI Summer Tour by supporting Ascend’s Corps Encore and Drums Along the Rockies and DCI World Championships by purchasing tickets through Ascend’s site. Please consider making the same investment in drum corps this summer by donating back your show tickets, making a contribution in the amount of your concession snacks or travel expenditures, and buying a t-shirt!

Volunteer. Even though we won’t be on tour this summer, we don’t intend to sit idle. We have a few long-neglected projects in Denver, Colorado we intend to tackle once we’re given the all clear. Watch the website and our social media channels and join in if you’re able.

If you are in a position to help further, please consider the role this extraordinary organization has played in your life and in the lives of thousands since 1958, and make a donation here, get involved here, or purchase Blue Knights merchandise at

What is the status of 2020 contracted members?

All Blue Knights who “made” the drum corps in 2020 are guaranteed their membership status in 2021.

We will be contacting members and families regarding member tuition individually. Like most drum corps, some of the dues collected have been paid for purchases, deposits and show design for the 2020 DCI summer national tour. Please allow us some time to work through these details.

Will there be an extension for members scheduled to age out in 2020?

Yes, we supported the extension for the age limit extension along with the support of other DCI member corps for 2020 contracted members. Learn more at here.

What will the Blue Knights be doing this summer?

We are going to do everything in our power to fulfill the organization’s mission of providing a life-changing experience in the performing arts with the Blue Knights. Our 2020 members are incredibly important to us, and we want them to have the opportunity to learn as much as they can. We are also planning additional activities and events online, so be sure to follow us on all the social media channels. Stay tuned!

Additionally, Ascend Performing Arts is working on changes to the format of our BKXperience educational clinics so that those can continue and grow. We see this as an opportunity to reinvent our educational outreach to engage more aspiring marching arts performers. And, of course, we will continue our fundraisers and expand on those in preparation for 2021 and beyond. More to come!

What if I already purchased tickets to a canceled DCI show?

We are working through the logistics of this situation with Drums Along the Rockies-Boise, Drums Along the Rockies-Denver and Corps Encore ticket holders. We will reach out to those ticket holders with an update soon. We appreciate your patience and understanding. 

Is the Ascend Performing Arts office open?

Yes, virtually. We have administrative staff who will continue to work on our 2020 activities and in preparation for 2021. The office will re-open for normal business hours when the Governor of Colorado and the Mayor of Denver lifts state-wide restrictions (learn more). In the meantime, the best way to reach our office staff is by email here.

How are you doing?

We’re concerned about you, too. We know this is difficult news and it will be a challenging year for all of us. This time of social distancing is necessary, but we understand it can be lonely and isolating. We hope you will stay safe and healthy and enjoy the pictures and videos we will be posting on Blue Knights social media as we look forward to bringing our Blue Knights Family together again soon. Our alumni, fans and friends truly mean the world to us!

How can I reach the Blue Knights?

You can reach us at our Ascend Performing Arts office at

The Ascend Performing Arts board of directors can be reached at

Our mailing address is 3538 Peoria Street, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80010.


Since 1958, Ascend Performing Arts has become a multi-faceted, youth performing arts organization dedicated to elevating life performance through the pursuit of excellence.

Ascend Performing Arts is recognized as the Rocky Mountain region’s most visible performing arts organization. Programs such as the internationally acclaimed Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, the 4-time Winter Guard International Champion Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, and Blue Knights Winds play an important role in providing high-caliber performance ensembles for thousands of youth performers each year.

Ascend Performing Arts also produces the Broncos Stampede Drum Line and Broncos Brass to entertain tens of thousands of NFL fans at Denver Broncos home games every season.

Educational programs such as the BKXperience allows students of a variety of performance levels to learn from the best educators in the marching arts activity.

Ascend Events, such as the Drums Along the Rockies and Corps Encore drum corps shows and the Friendship Cup high school marching contests, provide a stage which showcases the world’s top young musicians at the highest level.

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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder