League’s Catalyst Fund grants: supporting greater equity, diversity, and inclusion at U.S. orchestras

Posted on: June 25, 2020

Chicago Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush conducts the orchestra’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert in January 2020, which featured vocalist Kimberli Joye in Patty Griffin’s Up to the Mountain. Photo by Chris Ocken

“The Catalyst Fund, a three-year, $2.1 million program launched in 2019 by the League of American Orchestras, is designed to help its members identify, confront and ultimately correct what Jesse Rosen, the League’s president and chief executive officer, called built-in ‘systems of inequity,’ ” writes Kyle MacMillan in Tuesday’s (6/23) Chicago Sun-Times. “In early June, the League announced a second round of Catalyst grants ranging from $12,000 to $25,000 each to 28 orchestras, including the Chicago Sinfonietta, which was founded in 1987 with diversity at the forefront of its mission…. ‘I think we are coming to grips with the reality that orchestras for a long time have really been complicit and we have not been honest about the role we have played in the past and we haven’t really tended to explore and figure out how to change and how to be a constructive participant in the equitable, anti-racist way of doing business,’ said Rosen…. Equity, diversity and inclusion are ‘very much in the DNA’ of the organization,” said Blake-Anthony Johnson, Chicago Sinfonietta’s incoming CEO, “and this second Catalyst grant will help solidify those beliefs and assure they are a ‘common language’ among volunteers and everyone with any connection to the organization.” Click here for more on the League’s Catalyst Fund, which is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.