The Field Band Foundation is a registered not for profit company operating nationally since 1997. Using the model of large scale marching bands and creating music and dance performance opportunities, life skills and integrated health education is taught to young people between the ages of 7 – 21. The FBF Theory of Change model is based on peer support and positive behavioural modelling from peers, along with the on-going improvement of self-esteem in the variety of skills transfer that takes place.
Each band is run by a local management group – the community project team – of young tutors, headed up by a Project Officer who is a full-time employee of FBF. The young tutors are provided with living support, training and a small stipend to each the various components of the band. Continuous education in leadership and project management and skills transfer in music and performance is provided throughout the various levels of the organisation to empower and capacitate everyone who is connected to the band. The band therefore becomes an important conduit for interventions and activities that are aimed at developing community assets and providing new outlets and opportunities for people in under-resourced areas.
The tutor-in-training programme emphasizes the training of young people from within the communities where the bands are situated. A steering committee comprising members of schools’ staff, parents, local community leaders and other helpful stakeholders (e.g. South African Police Services) support this local management team and helps to provide guidance that is appropriate for the community. A community member is appointed as a Social Officer in each band, and receives a small stipend to attend rehearsals, understand socio-developmental needs of band members, provide support and referrals to other services where necessary. Parent workshops on positive communication are provided annually and this reinforces the community-focused approach of the FBF.
A key feature of the work is to ensure that band members have opportunities to perform and demonstrate their skills as well as emphasizing that the band “belongs” to the community. On June 16, each band has a special event to mark Youth Day which includes a short street parade and engagement with school, parent and Steering Committee stakeholders. The musical and dance repertoires of each band are therefore enjoyable, accessible and reflect the cultural diversity of South Africa. The national department of Sports, Arts and Culture has funded a national championship event which enables competing bands to travel to a central point for a large-scale event annually. This is a great motivating factor and a chance for young people to engage with their peers and set new goals for themselves. Where possible too, chances are provided for high achievers in each band to work with other bands, such as participating in the Cape Carnival.
Inclusion and respect for diversity is a critical central principle of FBF activities, and so disability awareness as well as respectful information about gender identity, are part of the education programme.
The FBF remains independent of any political or religious affiliation and aims to provide positive value-based activities for everyone who is willing to participate. There is considerable documentation in the development sector indicating the creative activities such as music and dance and the social engagement that results, is beneficial for everyone – not only the band members. Critical thinking, problem-solving and emotional resilience are all boosted with this integrated and holistic approach to community development.
More information is provided here about the HIV Peer Educator projects that the CHABAHIVA Trust has implemented in cooperation with the FBF.
Visit the FBF website for more information. Regular updates and events are posted on their Facebook page.