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Creating a More Just and Equitable Arts Ecosystem

Disruption. Action. Change is a three-part online series where five performing arts change-makers will discuss the role of disruption as an essential force in pursuit of a more just and equitable arts ecosystem. The series, aimed at the next generation of arts leaders (students and young professionals), centers the notion that upending existing organizational policy, bias, and protocols are vital to the future of the performing arts as we know it. Join our guests virtually each week for in-depth discussion and Q&A featuring audience questions.

This FREE series, a collaboration between The Eastman School of Music’s Paul R. Judy Center for Innovation & Research and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s EXCEL Lab, will feature:

  • Blog posts authored by each of the five guests
  • Three live ZOOM sessions, each featuring conversation and Q&A with a selection of our guests
  • A summative podcast episode produced by the Classically Black Podcast 

Disrupting Traditional Organizational Practice and Taking Risks to Advance ADEI/Anti-racism Policies

Thursday, March 11, 2021 | 4:30–6PM EST

Read their blog posts here starting Monday 3/8

Ashleigh Gordon (Castle of Our Skins)

Margaret Lioi (Chamber Music America)

Can arts institutions make small changes toward equity, or do we need to burn it all down? How do we found and support organizations that connect genuinely with their communities, enabling audiences to be “co-creators”? Join us for the first session of Disruption. Action. Change. where guests Ashleigh Gordon (Castle of Our Skins) and Margaret Lioi (Chamber Music America) share their experiences as arts executives navigating both change-making and music-making.

Making and Spreading Art That Advocates for Change

Thursday, March 18, 2021 | 4:30–6PM EST

Read their blog posts here starting Monday 3/15

Garrett McQueen (Trilloquy)

Joel Thompson (composer)

In classical music, how much of the onus for change should be placed on the music itself? Audre Lorde famously wrote that “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” So how do those committed to doing the work of curating a more inclusive canon grapple with working to disrupt a system from within? How must the definition of classical music change to become more inclusive, and what might that mean for the industry? Join us as Joel Thompson (composer) and Garret McQueen (Trilloquy) explore making and spreading art that advocates for change.

Disrupting Performance Practice Traditions and Subverting Stereotypes of the Stage

Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 4:30–6PM EST

Read his blog post here starting Monday 3/22

Antonio C. Cuyler (Florida State University/University of Michigan)

In response to the murder of George Floyd and the BLM protests of 2020, numerous performing arts institutions published statements of renewed commitment to anti-racism and racial equity. But how do we measure these institutions’ success in those new initiatives? What is creative justice, and what might it look like on the stage? This author talk-back features Dr. Antonio C. Cuyler (Florida State University and University of Michigan), author of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cultural Organizations: Insights from the Careers of Executive Opera Managers of Color in the U.S., sharing his thoughts on the challenges facing opera companies–including development, recruitment, and community engagement– in the age of Black Lives Matter.

Series Wrap-Up with the Classically Black Podcast
Monday, April 5, 2021

Dalanie Harris and Katie Brown – Classically Black Podcast

Join Classically Black Podcast hosts Dalanie Harris and Katie Brown as they unpack and discuss the input of the series’ guests while offering insight into how the next generation of arts leaders might use the tools provided in these sessions to embody equity in their work.

Classically Black Podcast is available on all major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.

Questions about the program?


We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully. The sessions will be conducted in English, and each will utilize Zoom’s live transcript feature. For additional accessibility requests, please contact us at least 5 business days prior to the workshop and we will do our best to meet requested accessibility needs. prjc@esm.rochester.edu

Registration Form

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