Many people with day jobs or “real jobs” have the day off today, to honor the birthday of a 20th-century titan: Martin Luther King, Jr. In some states, this is simply “Civil Rights Day”, which communicates both more and less, depending on how you look at it. But whatever you call it, be sure to take a break from bingeing old TV shows to take some serious note of what’s going on in our industry.
I’m not an expert on Dr. King, but I’ve been a fan since I first heard his most famous speech when I was about 9. Later, that admiration was solidified even further when I read and then heard stories from those who knew him. His passion for necessary change and his commitment to doing right and speaking truth — not only to power, but to all of us — is still an inspiring force.
So many years later, there is still a mountain of work to be done, particularly in classical music. As artists, we cannot be complacent and assume the world will right itself. I challenge you all to spend sme time today looking around, at your world and at the specific organizations you work with: Who are they hiring, and who’s in charge? Where are the diversity gaps? Is there programming bias to be addressed? Are there outreach opportunities that might get surrounding communities a little closer to equitable access to the arts?
What can you do about it?
Open your eyes, ears and heart, and that task will find you. We can’t solve it all today. But you can increase your own awareness, so that the next time you have a chance to speak up, take action, or build something better, you’ll be able to see the problems and hear the sound of opportunity knocking.