Our mission is to develop the Bandshell into a first class outdoor performing arts center that will stimulate and educate the community with a variety of uplifting, cultural presentations aimed at entertaining and raising appreciation for continued use and preservation of a historic beachside treasure: The Daytona Beach Bandshell.
As early as 1921, a group of local residents began discussing ideas for improving what had become a run down section of Daytona Beach's oceanfront. The Bandshell is the result . It was built as a community-use project by the Federal Government Works Progress Administration (WPA) designed to stimulate the economy during the depression. It cost the city $84,000 and the Federal Government $184,000. Construction of the 48' x114' natural coquina rock structure began in September 1936 and continued through 1938. However, by July 1937 enough had been completed so that, with great fanfare, a dedication ceremony could take place. The sound system, which had arrived in early June and was installed by engineers from RCA, proved state-of-the-art for that time. Sound was evenly distributed throughout the venue to the delight of the audience. In addition, five microphones rested on the bandshell platform, which were for future used of live radio broadcasts.
The Bandshell, with seating of 4,000, opened with a bang on July 4, 1937 sharing front page with headlines of Amelia Earhart' s disappearance and a picture of the Dionne quintuplets. A record crowd of 25,000 was on hand in the city for motorcycle races on the beach, a baseball game in the ballpark, a parade on Beach Street, and the Bandshell Concert. The festivities continued onJuly 5th with another parade, and Bandshell activities including the Municipal Band, bathing beauty contest, vaudeville and boardwalk carnival dance. "Miss Daytona Beach of 1937" was crowned on stage at the Bandshell at 11:00 PM. For decades, it stood at the center of Downtown Daytona Beach. Once the City Band and Beauty Pageant ended, the Bandshell fell into disuse and disrepair.
Who We Are
In 1996, Friends of the Bandshell, Inc. a not-for-profit corporation, was formed with the specific goal of restoring this jewel of Daytona Beach and bringing back a repertoire of outstanding artists with free concerts for area residents and visiting tourists. Our goal is to make this a cultural force in the community, not only through free entertainment, but also as an arts educational beacon shining on our Northeast Florida student population. When at all possible, we arrange outreach programs for performers to visit area schools to share their skills and experiences with area students. Meanwhile, with construction underway, Friends of the Bandshell began presenting concerts adjacent to the City Library on City Island. This activity generated community interest and donations for operations and programming. Audiences began to see the reality of restoring the venue to its former greatness. In 2001 and 2002, concerts returned to the Bandshell with increasing community interest and financial support.
Friends of the Bandshell has successfully presented an array of performing artists from local high school and college groups to regional and nationally known professionals. Musical offerings include Big Band, Swing, various Jazz stylings, Blues, Latin, Folk, Country and Gospel. Our goal is not only the preservation of the historic structure, but also to have The Bandshell become known as the prime Northeast Florida location for showcasing excellent talent. Our 2003 season will run from April through October and feature a number of new performers to the Bandshell. We will also continue to bring back those perennial favorites our audience demands in big band, jazz, swing and Latin. The highly acclaimed Florida American Festival will return featuring outstanding Florida Artists, many of whom have become international stars. These performances will be primarily folk, country and jazz.
In partnership with the City of Daytona Beach's Leisure Services Department, the Ocean Walk Alliance and Adams Mark Hotel, we are participating in restoration work which began in 1999. This was made possible by the City applying for and being successful in securing a major grant for the Bandshell restoration. It is estimated to be completed by June, 2003. The work includes structural repairs, electrical, plumbing, mechanical and roofing. Most of the exterior work on the structure is completed. Focus is now inside on dressing rooms, storage, rest rooms, office space and lighting. An amenities building is planned at the rear of the seating area which will have public restrooms, a concession stand and storage. Another improvement currently in the design stage, is a sound and lighting system that will surround the seating area. Finally, a portable, collapsible seating system is being contemplated which will complete the venue before the end of our 2003 season.
The free concerts are made possible by corporate and individual sponsors, annual members' donations, Volusia County and Florida State grants, volunteers, City of Daytona Beach, corporations' "in-kind" contributions, and audience donations. In 2003 we intend to search out and secure a major national sponsor that will "name" the Bandshell and provide significant funding for future operation of the venue.
Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. All are dedicated individuals and music lovers who remember the sounds of the Bandshell in previous years. They are committed to keeping this experience alive for Floridian residents and other national and international visitors. The volunteers work tirelessly at each concert managing beverage sales, greeting the audience, passing "the bucket" for donations, and promoting new membership. Others volunteer their time to manage finances, do public relations and distribute publicity materials.