Jan. 27, 2021

What to do about Black History Month as an Artist

It’s almost February which means that Black History Month is upon us. The arts have been and should continue to be deeply engaged in celebrating Black history and other culturally significant holidays. Artists, of any genre, form or medium,  create many important moments for understanding and belonging. It is our job to do better and to celebrate and honor the lives of those in a way that is honest, thoughtful, and purposeful. 
Many times though this is not what happens. As I said in the episode, arts organizations have a long history of doing little or nothing to celebrate and to uplift Black voices in and outside of Black History month. With that in mind, I’ve listed below a few things that I believe arts organizations to do to better celebrate and engage in Black History month. 
A Note: Though this list is music specific, many of these can be applied across disciplines 
  •  Program Black composers music on every single program
  •  Hire Black musicians
  • Elevate Black conductors, especially Black women, to the podium consistently
  • Include Black History Month concerts and events on the main series
  • Consult Black people all the time about the programming of Black artists
  • Hire Black people for administrative and decision-making positions and pay them 
This post should serve as a reminder that programming isn’t an end all be all to creating radical change in Classical music. Classical music is fundamentally flawed structure that rests heavily upon the continuation of white supremacy. More needs to be done beyond programming, but programming is the least that you can do.