Without private donations, the Tracy High School band would go without a tuba, the drums, the sousaphones and other big-ticket instruments.
Without help from the band boosters, the band members would have to wear dirty uniforms and share worn and torn sheet music.
That’s why the annual Jazz After Dark fundraiser in March is so important to bands director Michael Costa. The dinner-show brings in about $10,000 — which dwarfs the amount of money the high school marching and jazz bands get through the state, county and school district combined.
Tickets are on sale now. Costa wanted to get the word out early to hopefully garner enough interest for the band to collect its fundraising goal.
And with talks of corner-cutting to cope with a $15.4 million shortfall for Tracy Unified School District, Costa worries how much his students will have to do without this year.
“That’s why this event is so important to us,” he said.
Already, Costa has had to freeze this year’s budget until state legislators free up local district leaders by finalizing a budget. Until then, school officials have to put spending on hold.
And it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better, judging by those lists of suggested cuts.
Costa worries he’ll have to hold off on some of those out-of-town trips to jazz festivals and conventions.
“We’re going to rely more and more on our own fundraisers, on the band boosters help,” he said.
The fourth-annual fine-dining soiree is hosted by the Tracy High Band Boosters. For $40, a diner gets a plate full of pasta, salad and bread with their choice of steak or shrimp. During dinner, small all-student jazz bands perform. Afterwards, the big band puts on an hour-long show.
The even includes both silent and live auctions, where attendees can win, among other things, a chance to conduct the student band during a live performance.
It’s a date night, something to dress up for, said band booster volunteer Marika Kouda.
“It’s really something,” Costa agreed. “But with the money we raise from this, it’s also really important to our survival.”
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Jennifer Wadsworth at 830-4225 or email@example.com.
WHEN: 6 p.m. March 7
WHERE: Tracy Community Center, 950 East St.