All I Want For Christmas Is Some Gender Equality And Diversity. Is That Too F*@!ing Much To Ask For?

Here in Chicago it’s Midwest Clinic week. If you aren’t already familiar with Midwest, it’s the international mega conference for bands and orchestras of all stipe that routinely draws just under 20k attendees.

Among the numerous sessions, a trio of offerings devoted to the topic of gender equity jumped out at me.

Unfortunately, I am up to my eyeballs in deadline work and am unable to attend. But thanks to the largesse of friends and colleagues, I will be kept in the loop as to what transpires during those sessions.

I’m especially curious to see how conversations unfold since similar efforts at other conferences over the last year have been very hit and miss. One effort at a conference that shall not be named, became infamous in that there was one particular attendee who felt compelled to mansplain to the women members why gender equality wasn’t a problem.

On the other end of that spectrum are sessions that produced meaningful changes in attitudes and perspectives.

I’m hoping the trio of sessions at Midwest will all fall into the latter group and given some of the panelists in those sessions, I have high hopes.

I’m particularly happy to see my friend, colleague, and speaker of unspoken truths, Alex Shapiro as part of the Bridging the Gender Gap: Developing Strategies for Creating Equity in Ensemble Programming session.

Jennifer Higdon is one of several standouts in the Opening the Door Wider: Panel on Women Composers of Wind Music session, and the Directors for Diversity: Grade 1-4 Band Works by Women session looks like a fabulous offering focused on instituting change at the earliest stages of large ensemble music education.

If you’re at Midwest and attending any of these sessions, I would be all kinds of grateful to hear your feedback so take a moment to leave a comment, send a direct note, or leave a message on my Facebook wall.

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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