The South Bend Symphony Orchestra’s statement on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The SBSO acknowledges America’s legacy of systemic racism in society and, in particular, how that legacy has permeated American orchestras. Systemic racism has disenfranchised a wide variety of underrepresented groups, and the SBSO is committed to combatting such disenfranchisement. The SBSO Board commits its energy first to addressing inequities faced by African Americans in our art form. Contrary to excluding other groups, this commitment reflects a desire to focus efforts and to get more done. It is in part to recognize the history of systemic racism directed at African Americans in America and, more specifically, to the South Bend region’s Black community. This includes recognizing orchestral music’s record of prioritizing the work of white, European artists over others; excluding black musicians from rosters and black composers from programs; and our own organization’s failure to reflect the diversity of the community we serve. This is an important opportunity to formally and meaningfully address this disparity and to broaden and enhance our ability to contribute to and be of service in the community.

We begin with a commitment to include works of composers of the African diaspora throughout our programming, including the Masterworks Series. The SBSO commits to reviewing its current hiring practices for both African American orchestral members and management personnel, and making changes, if necessary, to increase the diversity in both areas. The SBSO will undertake a review of the selection process of members of the Board of Directors to ensure a more diverse representation of the community by not only race but age. The SBSO commits to developing new avenues for programming that will bring the orchestra into a closer partnership with the African American community including venues, promotions, and performance opportunities. Finally, the SBSO commits to updating its website to reflect these changes and policies.

To achieve these commitments, the SBSO will establish a permanent Board committee called Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. This committee will include SBSO board and community members and work with the Music Director, Executive Director, and all committees of the SBSO Board of Directors in setting priorities and establishing benchmarks. The SBSO Board of Directors commits to using its financial resources to create a more diverse and vibrant musical experience for our community.

Strategic Plan

Statement: The SBSO acknowledges America’s legacy of systemic racism in society and, in particular, how that legacy has permeated American orchestras, their audiences and the related organization. Systemic racism has disenfranchised a wide variety of underrepresented groups, and the SBSO is committed to combatting such disenfranchisement.

Statistics: St. Joseph County 2018 census reveals a county consisting of almost 72% Caucasian or White, 14% Black or African American, .6% American Indian, 2.7% Asian and 9.1% Hispanic community membership, with 1.6% made up of other diverse groups or not separately identified.

The City of South Bend consists of 52.4% White, 26.6% Black or African American, 15.7% Hispanic or Latino, .4% American Indian or Alaska Native, 1.5% Asian, .1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and 4.2% made up of other diverse groups of not separately identified.

ORCHESTRA & ORGANIZATION

  • Make Diversity a source of strength in administrative and artistic recruiting
  • o Identify, develop, and nurture relationships with key partners like local Black churches, 100 Black Men, Sphinx, Young Professionals Network, Latinx Young Professionals Network and others. Assign relationships to staff and board to maintain contact and credibility. (2021, Ongoing)
  • o Attract diverse musicians to auditions, with an emphasis on African Americans and Latinx– by casting a wider net of inquiry to organizations, centers of influence, including attendance at Sphinx’s SOPA auditions (2021)
  • o Recruit from diverse candidate pools by leveraging key partners like above (2022)
  • o Study the merits and consider developing a summer internship program for diverse college students who are interested in exploring a career in the performing arts or arts administration. (2023)
  • o Study the merits and consider a minority fellowship chair program with an emphasis placed on attracting and recruiting African American and Latinx candidates. (2023)
  • Commit to include works of composers of various diaspora throughout programming, across the Masterworks, Pops and Mosaic Series’. o Strive for equitable representation of African diaspora composers (2021, ongoing)
  • o Strive for equitable representation of Latinx composers (2023, ongoing)

AUDIENCE & BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • Create resilience by appealing to a broader swathe of the local population: o Define target groups, meet with them, listen for their concerns and respond (2021, 2022), establish relationships and address their needs (2022, 2023)
  • Create conditions for better decision making and governance by diversifying the board.
  • o Board Governance Committee undertakes a Board assessment, studies current Board makeup (2021)
  • o Board Governance Committee reviews and updates invitation process for new members of the Board, to create a better process that ensures a more diverse representation of the community not only by race, but age. (2022)
  • o Commit to 10-20% Black representation on the Board (2022)
  • o Commit to 5-15% Latinx representation on the Board (2024)