British culture minister speaks out about increasing orchestra diversity

Posted on: January 28, 2016

“British orchestras must make ‘a real step change’ to allow a wider diversity of backgrounds into their ranks, according to culture minister Ed Vaizey,” writes Vanessa Thorpe in Saturday’s (1/23) Guardian (London). “In a strongly worded appeal to a group of musicians and orchestral managers in Birmingham on Friday night, the minister … said, ‘I appreciate that these diverse musicians may not be able to spring fully formed to take their place in an orchestra, but I refuse to accept diverse talent isn’t out there…. I really do want to see people being given opportunities where they can,’ he told those gathered in Birmingham Town Hall for the closing session of the Association of British Orchestras’ annual conference.” The speech heralded the release of a government white paper on the arts and their value to Britain. Vaizey stated: “What lies at the heart of this are the mentoring programmes and the knowledge of what it can bring to young musicians, by encouraging them and telling them from an early age about the great opportunities there are to play in our great orchestras.… We have got to stop making excuses. This is not political correctness. It is essential.”

To read the cover story of the current issue of Symphony, in which five distinguished African-American classical artists discuss diversity and inclusion with League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen, click here.

Posted January 28, 2016