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Pacific Symphony Named One Of 28 U.S. Orchestras To Receive Catalyst Fund Grants From League Of American Orchestras To Advance Orchestras To Advance Equity, Diversity And Inclusion Within Their Organization
Orange County, Calif. — June 05, 2020
The League of American Orchestras has awarded a grant of $18,760 to Pacific Symphony to strengthen their understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and to help transform organizational culture. Given to just 28 orchestras nationwide, the one-year grants comprise the second round of The Catalyst Fund, the League’s three-year, $2.1 million grant-making program, made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.
John Forsyte, President and CEO of Pacific Symphony commented, "We are excited to be selected—as one of 28 orchestras—to receive the Catalyst Fund Grant from the League of American Orchestras. Pacific Symphony’s Board of Directors, staff and musicians recognize the importance and challenge of this work. The grant will help to fund the launching of a long-term effort by allowing us to engage an expert consultant in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to facilitate a planning process that advances our strategic goals. In light of this critical moment for addressing racial inequities, long-standing barriers and greater inclusion, this is extremely important work for the Symphony to undertake.”
“Recent events have underscored the deep racial disparities existing in our country, already amplified by the pandemic’s unequal impact on communities of color,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “The work orchestras are undertaking with support from the League’s Catalyst Fund highlights the urgency of addressing EDI as orchestras attempt to confront decades of inequity within our field. We must understand and address our personal and organizational roles in systems of inequity.”
Pacific Symphony’s overall goal is to establish EDI as a central element of the orchestra’s strategic plan. By engaging in an internal learning process, the Symphony will develop specific strategies and action plans to diversify its board, staff, musicians and audience, and to ensure greater impact and access for everyone in our region. Throughout this process, stakeholders will better understand key issues related to EDI, question long-held assumptions and better understand why it matters to Pacific Symphony. Action steps will then address EDI within the Symphony, and an organization-wide plan will be developed.
Preliminary analysis of the inaugural 2019 Catalyst Fund cohort demonstrates support and progress among orchestras, including an increased commitment and dedication to individual orchestras’ EDI work and an increased awareness that systemic change requires a sustained effort over time.
Catalyst Fund grants support orchestras’ use of EDI practitioners who help implement a range of organizational development activities involving musicians, staff, board and, in some cases, volunteers and community leaders. These include anti-bias trainings, institutional audits, the creation of formal EDI plans and work to build consensus and integrate EDI into mission statements and culture. Community building is a key component of the program; The Catalyst Fund Learning Cohort, made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, enables past and present grantees to interact with colleagues through remote and (post-pandemic) in-person convenings as well a dedicated online forum.
The Catalyst Fund is informed by earlier dialogue and research. A major national convening co-hosted by the League and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December 2015 was catalytic in launching national task forces and annual convenings to engage orchestras in EDI efforts. Two important League studies, “Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field,” and “Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras' Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians,” further served to inform and stimulate action. In April 2018 the League launched, in partnership with The Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony, the National Alliance for Audition Support, a national initiative that offers Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation and audition travel stipends. Additional information on these programs and other EDI activity, including information about the League’s EDI Strategic Framework, is available from the League’s online EDI Resource Center.
League member orchestras were eligible to apply for Catalyst Fund grants; applications were reviewed by an independent panel of experts.
2020 Catalyst Fund Grant Recipients
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
DC Youth Orchestra Program
East Texas Symphony Orchestra
Empire State Youth Orchestra
Grand Rapids Symphony
Handel and Haydn Society
Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
New Jersey Youth Symphony
New World Symphony
North Carolina Symphony
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
San Francisco Symphony
South Dakota Symphony Orchestra
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
About Pacific Symphony
Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair since 1990, has been the resident orchestra of Orange County’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for over a decade. Currently in its 41st season, the Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the U.S. in the last 50 years and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scenes, as well as in its own community of Orange County. In April 2018, Pacific Symphony made its debut at Carnegie Hall as one of two orchestras invited to perform during a yearlong celebration of composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, and the following month the orchestra toured China. The orchestra made its national PBS debut in June 2018 on Great Performances with Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” conducted by St.Clair. Presenting more than 100 concerts and events each year and a rich array of education and community engagement programs, reaching more than 300,000 residents of all ages.
Under Carl St.Clair, Pacific Symphony has achieved new heights of musical excellence while also diversifying its programming and expanding its community engagement activities. Through commissions, premieres, and recordings, the orchestra has become a champion of contemporary American music, with a discography devoted almost entirely to 20th- and 21st-century music by American composers, including William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty and Philip Glass. The orchestra has recorded for Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Koch International Classics, Reference Recordings, and Sony Classical, among other labels.
Pacific Symphony has been recognized with multiple ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and included among the country’s five most innovative orchestras by the League of American Orchestras. The Symphony’s education and community engagement activities have also been recognized by the League, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. These initiatives include community and youth concerts and ensembles, interactive events, masterclasses with guest artists, and classroom and summer programs for children.
The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 1,700 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.
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