Diversity In Programming Poll Results

On Tuesday, I asked readers to rate how important they felt diversity is to an orchestra’s masterworks/mainstage programming. Here’s how just under 200 readers replied.

How important do you think it is for an orchestra to include works from LIVING composers?

  • Very Important
  • Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Not Important

How important do you think it is for an orchestra to include works from FEMALE composers?

  • Very Important
  • Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Not Important

How important do you think it is for an orchestra to include works from NON-WHITE composers?

  • Very Important
  • Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Not Important

An overwhelming majority of readers indicated music from living composers along with including works from women and non-white composers is important.

This is a small sampling in an unscientific poll but it is difficult to miss the disconnect between these results and what composer and arts administrator Rob Deemer has been uncovering while mining 2017/18 season programming data. Nearly half of the 45 orchestras Deemer sampled had zero music from women or non-white composers.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Granted, this is far from being a new topic of conversation within the field but for most professional orchestras it seems to be just that, only a conversation.

What do you think it will take to see meaningful change on this topic?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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