Opinion: Questioning the cultural specificity of orchestras

Posted on: October 5, 2017

“As longstanding concerns about cultural equity find voice in policy initiatives … administrators at organizations that celebrate European art forms, which are noticeably overrepresented among the biggest-budget nonprofit arts institutions in the United States, are snapping into action,” writes Ian David Moss on Wednesday’s (10/4) Create Equity site. “The 2016 League of American Orchestras conference was, for the first time, devoted entirely to the topic of diversity in the field. Hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the choice to convene in a majority-black city and bring in Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson as a keynote speaker did not go unnoticed. Sessions focused on helping orchestras become more reflective of the country, including diversifying boards, audiences, and the players themselves. … The issue goes far beyond orchestras. According to the most recent figures from the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, audiences for classical music, ballet, opera, plays, and musicals are all at least 78% white. … At this point, it’s time to start asking the question hanging over all of this: what is the endgame? What happens if, despite the sincerest of intentions and tireless efforts to integrate, most organizations rooted in European forms of artistic expression never achieve anything close to proportionate representation of the demographics of their communities?”

Posted October 5, 2017