Erie-based Cadets Arts & Entertainment files for bankruptcy. Drum corps won't compete again.

The famed Cadets drum corps is no more.

The Erie-based Cadets Arts & Entertainment nonprofit, which fields the internationally renowned drum corps, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides for the sale of the debtor's assets to pay creditors.

"Unfortunately, the necessity of chapter 7 bankruptcy means that The Cadets will never return to the marching arts competition field again," CAE directors said in a statement.

Members of The Cadets drum corps get set to perform during a clinic for high school band members at Mercyhurst University in June.
Members of The Cadets drum corps get set to perform during a clinic for high school band members at Mercyhurst University in June.

Sexual abuse lawsuit strains Cadets' finances

The "unknown and crippling financial strain" of defending a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Cadets Arts & Entertainment and others was a prime factor in the bankruptcy, according to the statement.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 1, 2020, in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Bergen County, New Jersey, by a woman who claims that she was sexually abused in 1982 and 1983 by an instructor for the Garfield Cadets, as the drum corps was then known. The woman said that she was 16 and a member of the Cadets when the abuse began.

Cadets Arts & Entertainment denies the allegations.

"CAE is compassionate to anyone who has experienced assault of any form," CAE directors said in their statement. "CAE has also vigorously defended the case."

The organization was unable to resolve the lawsuit, and its insurance carrier denied coverage to fund defense costs or a monetary judgement against the organization, CAE directors said. Member fees and donations were not used to pay legal costs, they said.

Cadets moved to Erie in 2023: The drum corps won't compete in 2024

"It has become financially impossible to continue defending the case given the unknown and crippling financial strain the case has created and the impact of any potential judgement levied on CAE," directors said. "This situation has led to the heartbreaking and tragic decision by the CAE Board of Directors to end CAE and The Cadets program."

A settlement conference in the lawsuit is scheduled for April 18 in New Jersey.

Cadets Arts & Entertainment assets are valued at between $100,001 and $500,000, according to the voluntary bankruptcy petition. Its liabilities also are estimated at between $100,001 and $500,000.

The Cadets drum corps

The drum corps was founded in 1934 and has won 10 Drum Corps International world championships since 1983. The Cadets last year included young musicians from more than 20 states and three foreign countries.

Cadets Arts & Entertainment moved its operations to Erie Sports Center in Summit Township last year. The organization previously was based in Allentown.

Directors announced in October that the drum corps would not compete this year due to unmet fundraising goals.

Cadets Arts & Entertainment directors thanked Erie Sports Center, local organizations and the community at large for their "kindness, support and encouragement" on its move to Erie.

Reporter Ed Palattella contributed to this article.

Contact Valerie Myers at

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Cadets drum corps ends 90-year run. Erie-based nonprofit is bankrupt.