This week, we delve into recent coverage of diversity in the arts, along with some noteworthy readings and resources.
The New Yorker’s Alex Ross published an essay, Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music (Sept. 21, 2020), tracking missed opportunities and renewed efforts to de-marginalize non-white composers and performers.
In July 2020, The New York Times published an Arts feature, “How to Change Classical Music”:
- The Times posed the question of nine Black performers and composers.
- Anthony Tommasini argued in a Critic’s Notebook column “To Make Orchestras More Diverse, End Blind Auditions”.
- Tommasini’s article generated a lot of reaction, including a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column by Jeremy Reynolds, arguing “Orchestra auditions should be more ‘blind’, not less”.
- In another Critic’s Notebook column, Josh Barone argued “Opera Can No Longer Ignore Its Race Problem”.
NYC musicians Shea Scruggs and Weston Sprott took a broad look at the symphonic hiring process in a June 2019 article for Local 802’s Allegro newsletter, “Advancing Inclusion: Creative ways musicians can take a lead”.
Orchestras Canada has a number of initiatives under the banner of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility):
- Orchestras Canada’s IDEA Declaration was approved in May 2017 and signed by many arts organizations, including OCSM.
- A June 2020 statement on racial inequity followed up on that Declaration.
- Re-sounding the Orchestra, a major report by Soraya Peerbaye and Dr. Parmela Attariwala, was released in 2019, and includes responses and action items.
- Perfect Fifth of Diversity: A framework for self-assessment, by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser (pictured above), poses five key questions for orchestras to consider.
- Orchestras Canada Equity Coordinator Nina Jeftic compiled a list of noteworthy IDEA readings in June 2020.
The Institute for Composer Diversity provides a variety of resources, analysis, and advocacy for diverse programming. Their database is currently being reworked, with plans to relaunch in the next few weeks.
“Our stages are not reflective of our population - but this moment is an opportunity to elicit change,” writes dancer/choreographer Kevin A. Ormsby in an essay for CBC Arts, “Pause. Reflect. Rebuild. How the dance world can rise from the ashes of 2020”.
Both Ormsby’s article and a 2018 essay in canadianart, “The Great Canadian Amnesia” by Zainub Verjee, examine the legacy of the 1951 Massey Commission Report, which set federal arts and culture policy and granting models still operating today, including the idea of “Canadian content”.