June 23, 2020
Dear New World Symphony Community,
The New World Symphony has always stood for dynamic change and this is such a moment. In our Town Hall meeting on June 10, we heard our colleagues describe the anger and pain they feel. The murder of George Floyd was the spark. But there are so many other tragedies, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks – all flowing from the inhumane legacy of slavery. The Town Hall opened a space for dialogue. We are grateful for the courage and vulnerability shown by those who shared their personal experiences and posed tough questions.
We are listening. We recognize that it doesn’t matter if our past mistakes and omissions were unintentional and that we could have created a more inclusive and equitable institutional culture. What matters now is that we take action to do so.
On the road ahead, we must continue to diversify our administrative and board leadership; include Black and other underrepresented voices in our artistic programming – including our mainstream subscription series; deepen our examination of our recruitment and audition processes for Fellows; provide training and commit to our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB) goals regardless of whether dedicated funding has been secured; and actively create and pursue an anti-racist institutional vision that becomes an example for our society.
Today, we commit to change in the largest sense, and to action steps as defined below.
Training and Analysis
Provide continuing training for staff, Fellows, and Trustees so that we can achieve a shared understanding of systemic racism and implicit bias.
Conduct a third-party EDIB analysis of our institution, gaining the perspective we will need to transform ourselves into a fully inclusive institution. The analysis will assess all areas of the institution including personnel, programs, products, services, constituencies and stakeholders, organizational structure, purpose, identity, and mission.
Dialogue and Brainstorming
Convene additional listening sessions in Town Hall gatherings – and in smaller groups. In each case, these sessions will keep the dialogue of the first Town Hall alive and give everyone a chance to express themselves fully and in a communal setting.
Using the methodology of design thinking, hold facilitated workshops to expand, organize, and prioritize potential EDIB action steps.
This committee of Staff, Fellow, and Board volunteers will help drive our work and enable us to seek the diverse perspectives we need to become equitable and inclusive in our policies and procedures.
Include more artists and compositions by composers of color in our programming.
Support the Fellows as they seek ways to counter systemic racism through their artistic expression and inclusion in the creative process. Included in this work will be dialogue and action on ways performances can better serve our diverse community.
Examine and enact changes in recruitment, hiring, work life, and retention. We will continue to explore ways to recruit prospective employees, Fellows, and Trustees representing diverse backgrounds, skills, and abilities, while ensuring that our hiring practices remain equitable for all and that they are based on the highest standards of excellence. We will deepen our examination of all policies and procedures that influence our auditioning, hiring, and onboarding processes. We must build an inclusive environment, welcoming varying viewpoints and approaches.
Develop a long-range plan for EDIB transformation that outlines how we will maintain our commitment to equity and inclusion throughout our programming, policies, and procedures at all levels of the institution.
Amplify and Engage
Use our platform to amplify voices for social justice and change through our programming and community engagement initiatives.
Hold national convenings that examine the critical issues and design actions that will make a difference in the world of classical music.
We realize this will be a long journey. We acknowledge the pain of our Black colleagues and recognize that the work cannot rest on their shoulders alone. It will require introspection, empathy, honesty, and imagination. Introspection will give each of us the courage to see our own biases. Being honest with ourselves and empathetic with each other will strengthen our internal bonds – personal connections we will need in the coming months.
We can and must imagine a better institution, where our colleagues and Fellows of color feel a sense of belonging, here at New World and in the field of classical music – and then make it happen.
We commit to this journey. We invite your continued conversation, critique, and participation.
Michael Tilson Thomas, Artistic Director
Edward Manno Shumsky, Chairman
Howard Herring, President and CEO