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DEI Report

Since publishing the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, the Charlotte Symphony has made the following steps on our learning journey to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including:

Artistic Vitality & Growth

  • We are seeking to increase diversity within the Orchestra by broadening the applicant base for auditions, removing pre-screening of resumes and giving automatic advancement beyond the first round of applicants for those who participate in The Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions.
  • In our ongoing search for the Symphony's next Music Director, we are proud to welcome guest conductors to our stage who represent a rich diversity of talent. During the 2022-23 season, esteemed conductors such as Erina Yashima, Kwam√© Ryan, Vinay Parameswaran, Mei-Ann Chen, Paolo Bortolameolli, Lan Shui, and Kazem Abdullah, among others, led performances.
  • The recently announced 2023-24 season serves as a testament to our commitment to showcasing artists and works from historically marginalized communities. Music critic Lawrence Toppman highlighted the significance of this season in The Charlotte Ledger stating, "For the first time in memory, members of the Great Classical Canon will be less important than the startling array of Black, female, and living composers who'll populate the programs, not only in the Classical Series but the Pops Series and even the Family Series aimed at kids."
  • Continuing our partnership with the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) through the Sphinx Organization, we brought Black and Latinx players to the stage this season in different sections of the orchestra in both yearlong appointments and in extra positions when needed.
 

Learning

  • A recent study, conducted internally, shows that an overwhelming majority, specifically 87.8%, of students participating in Project Harmony identify themselves as students of color. Additionally, within our Youth Orchestra Program, 70% of participants also belong to diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. 
  • To increase access to music education for all ages, we were proud to complete our first full program of Preschool Violin Class with our partner Charlotte Bilingual School during the 2022-23 season.
  • Within the Youth Orchestra Program, financial aid awarded has experienced a tenfold increase between 2017 and 2022. Recently, one-sixth of our talented young musicians have benefited from financial assistance. 
  • In the 2022-23 season, our Youth Programs and Community performances showcased a greater representation of composers from diverse backgrounds, in terms of both gender and ethnicity.
 

Financial Health & Sustainability 

  • The CSO's Finance Committee will continue to ensure that income and expenses related to DEI initiatives are included in the operating budget for FY24, including our partnership with the Sphinx Organization in the National Alliance for Audition Support, and attendance by Symphony musicians and staff at auditions, conferences, and meetings associated with our DEI work. 
 

Innovation 

  • The Innovation Hub, a dynamic and multi-constituency forum for voicing and exploring innovative ideas, has been meeting regularly to foster discussions and propel forward multiple initiatives aimed at broadening the Symphony's reach. These initiatives include a specific focus on the areas of our community identified as Corridors of Opportunity by the City of Charlotte, and embracing innovative and immersive presentations that will draw new and diverse audiences. 
 

Organizational Culture

  • The DEI Committee is making progress on action items in the DEI Road Map completed in collaboration with Arts Consulting Group, a leading provider of hands-on strategic planning & community engagement for the arts and culture industry.
  • To cultivate greater inclusivity and foster meaningful relationships within the CSO, an Organizational Culture sub-committee has been established. This sub-committee curates a range of events that encourage interaction among staff, musicians, and board members, enabling the development and deepening of connections.
  • We are continuing to diversify our recruitment practices by advertising positions through national organizations like Sphinx, African American Development Officers (AADO), and local media sources such as QCity Metro. 
  • Recognizing the importance of fostering a welcome and inclusive environment, we have created, adopted, and publicly shared the Symphony's Core Values. By codifying these values, we reaffirm our dedication to cultivating a space that embraces and celebrates our diverse community.
 

Public Relevance 

 

Audience Development 

  • In order to expand our reach and engage with a broader audience, we have increased our media investment in outlets that cater to Charlotte's diverse communities. This includes increased advertising presence in platforms such as QCity Metro, QNotes, and La Noticia. Additionally, we are translating more of our advertisements to effectively communicate with our Spanish-speaking audience.
  • We recently participated in a nationwide study focused on understanding the sentiments of orchestra audiences regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Insights gathered from this survey will inform our approach in effectively communicating our goals and efforts in these areas to our community, leading to better understanding and engagement with our DEI initiatives.
  • Since the publication of the Strategic Plan in FY21, there has been significant growth in the percentage of African American, Hispanic, and Asian ticket buyers, increasing from 10.7% to 15.8%. Moreover, we have also increased Millennial purchasers from 22.1% to 26.2%, and Gen Z purchasers from 1% to 3.4%. 
  • To attract and welcome new audiences, we are taking extra measures to present compelling stories to media outlets serving unique and diverse communities including QCity Metro, Queen City Nerve, and local broadcast TV which reaches a wide audience.
  • In an effort to increase access to concert experiences for community members who could not normally afford tickets, we partnered with multiple community groups and schools to provide more than 2,500 complimentary and low-cost tickets to mainstage performances. We are also offering free tickets for youth to attend Sunday matinees in the 2023-24 season.