I received a number of wonderful responses from the Bunch Of Racist Nonsense article published from last Wednesday. As with most issues that generate a good deal of responses there are always some surprises, and this was no exception.
Many messages were from orchestra managers (wishing to remain anonymous) who expressed varying degrees of disappointment and aggravation over the fact that their respective orchestra boards do a very poor job at reflecting the diversity of their community.
One former manager wrote in to say,
“I always found it frustrating to sit in executive meetings and listen to everyone lament over our ‘inability’ to attract a minority audience when every face sitting around the table was white. Eventually, these meetings always ended with a general consensus that our minority communities must not have enough music education in school or the immigrant population just doesn’t know how to appreciate classical music.”
I wonder how many times that orchestra’s board officers ever thought about how their own nomination committee functioned and what sort of efforts those individuals make to recruit their minority peers from the community.
I do know of orchestras that “invite” minority community leaders to have a position on the board as an “advisor” but this isn’t bringing the person in as a peer, it’s pandering. There is a multitude of successful minorities out there in every community and an orchestra’s board should naturally reflect that fact.
A long time orchestra patron from Texas wrote in with these questions:
“Are we really talking about ethnicity here? Aren’t we talking about social and economic status?”
Good question, are we all confusing socio-economic status with ethnicity? Is the ethnicity issue just a convenient argument? Is the percentage of any given lower or middle class white population just as disinterested in classical music as their minority counterparts in comparable economic brackets?