Memo from Ron – re: Judge Pay Increase

Dear WGI Circuit Partner,

The seasons all blur as the marching arts essentially is now a year-round endeavor in almost every region of the country save only the holidays and the occasional random free weekend. Here in the Dayton office, we are busily preparing for the potential of another amazing year. We value the extraordinary contribution our adjudicators make to WGI. The purpose of this communication is to share some changes for our team of adjudicators this year.

Fees for WGI adjudication will increase in 2018 as follows:

One Day Events:
Caption Judges: $400 or $8 per group judged (whichever is greater)
T&P Judges: $300 or $6 per group judges (whichever is greater)

Two Day Events & World Championships:
Caption Judges: $375 per day or $8 per group judged (whichever is greater)
T&P Judges: $275 per day or $6 per group judged (whichever is greater)

You may wonder why the two-day minimum is less than the one-day. In conversations with many judges, the concern brought to us was the number of groups attending a one-day event, plus having prelims, finals, possibly critique, all in one day. Most, if not all, feel those one-day events are more taxing than that of two-day events which normally has two panels and an easier schedule. There is still an increase, albeit a more modest one than single day events.

During our very animated conversation about judge fees at the recent Circuit Symposium, it was clear that this continues to be a very delicate balance between the demands placed on judges vs. controlling costs for show hosts. We considered delaying this change until the 2019 season. However, as administrators we all must do what is in the best interest of our organizations. WGI has not had a judge fee increase since 2011 and the demands of our events required change now, rather than later.

Again, I would caution all Circuit Partners that an escalation of fees in the pursuit of “paying more for better judges” serves no one. The closer we can get to a national pay scale for adjudicators controls costs for not only show hosts, but the groups we all serve. Increased costs eventually trickle down to the color guards, percussion ensembles, and winds groups in higher fees and ticket prices.

Please do not think that just because WGI has increased judge fees, that is the right decision for your circuit. Do what is right for your members. Higher fees because some say you have to do this to be competitive in booking judges is a fallacy. Of course, if someone is offering more money, it makes it easier to get judges to come to your event. But those additional funds have to come from somewhere and the answer cannot always be to raise fees on the groups or show hosts.

This year is the first time WGI has raised fees to groups since 2004 except for a small increase a few years back to cover the cost of increasing staff passes. Throw in the skyrocketing cost of travel and we shall soon see that a “fee war” between Circuit Partners is not sustainable. I welcome any conversation on this topic. Please feel free to reach out to me should you so desire.

We are so excited for the upcoming season and hope you are as well. The best is yet to come!


Ron Nankervis
Executive Director, CEO