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Meet Robert Lowery of The Royal Cavaliers Performing Arts in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Lowery.

Robert, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always had a passion for the performing arts since I was in Jr. high school by joining the band. As I progressed over the years playing percussion and being the drum major for the high school band. After High school, I begin teaching local high school drum lines in the Virginia Beach Area. I began to see the importance of giving back to the community for individuals that strive for marching and playing in marching bands and drum corps. I decided that I needed to make a positive impact in the communities. This is when I started my own independent non-profit organize.

In 2004, after moving to Southern California, I started my 1st independent percussion ensemble of youth from the Long Beach Area. the following year I then started a drum and bugle corps that targeted youth from under-served communities and single parent families. The drum corps lasted for 5 years before we had to go inactive due to financial hard times. However, my passion did not fade away.

Once again, in 2014 I was able to join forces with a group of alumni members from the Royal Cavaliers Youth Band that was very active in the 1960s through the early 1980s. We were able to revive the organization as an independent indoor wind marching ensemble. The first season in the competitive area, the ensemble competed in the Winter Guard International (WGI) circuit and the West Coast Winds Circuit and was very successful.

In the second season, the winds ensemble again competed in the WGI and WCW circuits in the Southwest Region. The ensemble traveled to Dayton, OH to compete in WGI’s Championships. The ensemble finished as an Independent Open Finalist. This was a great to end a successful season.

At the end of the 2016 Season, I was conversed with several individuals to start an independent percussion ensemble to give youth in the San Fernando Valley the same opportunity as ensembles across the nation. So, the 2018 season for the Royal Cavaliers Performing Arts will have two competing ensembles. We hope that the success of these two ensembles will allow for future growth of the organization.

I am hoping that my passion to education and provide performing opportunities for young individuals will continue to grow and gain community support.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest obstacles to having a great/amazing organization is getting local support financially and getting rehearsal sites. I am having trouble understanding why people will donate to national and international organizations and not support organizations in the community. With a local organization, you can see immediate results. Unlike national groups, you will never see what your financial contributions can do.

Independent organizations do not have any school funding to help offset the operational cost or the equipment purchases. The biggest challenge is getting funds to purchase tubas, drums and percussion equipment. One tubas cost on average $4,500 each. So, if we need 6 tubas, it would cost about $27,000. Each piece of percussion equipment (Marimba) cost about $4,700 each. When we need 10 pieces of percussion equipment, it will cost $47,000. As you can see, it takes a lot of money to start and maintain equipment. This equipment lasts about 3 years before it wears out and needs replacement. Bottom line, we need major local/community support to provide quality equipment for the members. Each Member pays from $1,600 to $2,000 each year to be in the ensemble. If we can get most support, we can lower this membership fee and get more youth involved in this amazing activity. We NEED your support.

The next big hurdle is getting indoor facilities to hold rehearsals on weekends. The school facilities are booked almost year around and when we can get a facility, it cost about $35 – $75 per hour. So, for one season facility fees can run about $10,000 a season. Luckily, living in Southern California, we can be outdoors most of the time. However, we then get noise complaints from the neighbors. My comment most of the time is that we are doing something positive with youth to keep them off the streets, out of jail and staying physically fit. Would rather see these kids wasting their life?

We find ways to make it work but it is always a challenge every year.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Royal Cavaliers Performing Arts – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Royal Cavaliers Performing Arts is a nonprofit organization that serves as an extension of local band programs and private music lessons. The organization also provides additional opportunities for advanced level musicians to work with beginning musicians. The organization provides a professional educational team that develops the members into well-rounded performers and leaders. Our musicians are presently living in the San Fernando Valley and the surrounding communities. However, the organization does not exclude membership from other geographical areas. The organization offers the members the chance to interact with the community and develop their leadership skills. The organization is dedicated to bringing together individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests with a desire to develop and educate the community in the art of “Performance Theatre” through discipline, teamwork and the pursuit of competitive performance excellence.

The Mission of RCPA is to preserve the past accomplishments, history and performances of former and current groups. In addition, the mission is to provide leadership, logistical, and financial support for current groups. Provide the opportunity for teenagers and young adults to participate in a competitive visual performing arts activity, while creating positive life experiences for all who participate.

The Goal of RCPA is to give each member the opportunity to come together with other youth such as themselves that are highly motivated, and have a strong desire to pursue excellence and perform at the peak of their potential. Membership can prove to be one of the most unforgettable and rewarding experiences of their lifetime. Provide financial support for related performances.

What I most proud of is how we can recruit members from all over Southern California and be one of the few independent ensembles in California that can produce a cutting-edge production and travel nationally every year to compete with other ensembles from the east coast. This a major accomplishment for any group.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our future plans are to add new ensembles to the organization such as an indoor colorguard, drum and bugle corps, jazz ensemble and an orchestra. This will take time, money, equipment and facilities. With the support of the community annually, this can happen.

Pricing:

  • Concert Percussion Equipment -$47,000
  • Marching Tubas – $27,000
  • Sound System – $15,000
  • New Tractor Trailer – $55,000
  • Additional Woodwind (Flutes, Clarinets, Saxophones) – $20,000
  • Additional Brass Equipment (Trumpets, Mellophones, Baritones, Euphoniums) – $25,000

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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