Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan for the Seattle Symphony and Benaroya Hall

MISSION

The Seattle Symphony Unleashes the Power of Music, Brings People Together, and Lifts the Human Spirit

VALUES

Excellence · Innovation · Curiosity · Collaboration · Respect · Inclusivity · Integrity · Service

Statement from Paula Boggs, Chair of Board of Directors Diversity and Equity Committee:

“The Seattle Symphony board has formed a Diversity and Equity Committee and I am thrilled to be its first chair. Much like the city it calls home, the Seattle Symphony creates innovative artistic excellence, propelled by heart and leadership, in redefining the 21st century symphony all the while expanding the universe of those it serves. The board must be worthy of the Seattle Symphony’s ambitious diversity, equity and inclusion goals. We have a fiduciary duty to embrace and model those goals. Our board aspires to look like, organize itself, challenge our thinking and otherwise fully support the Seattle Symphony’s mission to unleash the power of music, bring people together and lift the human spirit through an expansive view of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Statement from Krishna Thiagarajan, President & CEO:

“The Seattle Symphony has a proud history of creating excellent music in Seattle, developing a world-class concert hall and a destination in downtown Seattle with Benaroya Hall and winning five Grammy Awards. The Symphony is known as a bold and daring orchestra that collaborates with all genres, has a history of supporting movie productions as well as crossover projects with rock and folk artists, and has garnered international recognition with groundbreaking commissions such as John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean.

Given the organization’s history and standing, the Seattle Symphony must be attuned to and responsive to the civic changes that are unfolding in this moment in time. As one of America’s most prominent orchestras, we seek to transform our organization into one with the capabilities to provide meaningful partnership with all corners of our diverse community.

It is our goal to diversify the Seattle Symphony with equal representation across the staff, board leadership, on stage, and within our venue and public spaces at Benaroya Hall. We seek to redefine the role of the Seattle Symphony in our community and make our orchestra an effective partner in our city’s social justice movement, using our artists and stages, our partnerships with nonprofit and corporate leaders, and our modern downtown performance center to bring about positive change for marginalized people and communities.”

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION PLAN

The Seattle Symphony commits to take the following initial steps over the 2020–2021 season:

  • Establish Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) as a priority at the board level through steps including creating an Equity Committee, completing DE&I training and prioritizing equity in new board nominations.
  • Continue to support the work of the staff and musician Racial Equity Committees, including DE&I training, regular assessments of organization culture, and evaluation of hiring methods and selection process to promote diversity and to work towards a goal of organization-wide community representation.
  • Commit to prioritize DE&I efforts in the Symphony’s financial plans.
  • Connect with Seattle’s racially and culturally diverse populations through increased accessibility for audience and community members through Seattle Symphony Education and Community Engagement programming.
  • Partner with minority owned and/or operated organizations in business relationships as well as joint-projects and non-profit collaborations.
  • Actively encourage staff and musicians to engage in advocacy groups that promote social justice and to participate in the democratic process.
  • Invest in greater on-stage prominence for ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab or Native American) and female artists and their works through commissions and programming, guest artists, premieres and artist residencies.
  • Evaluate audience engagement tools including website, streaming and communications to ensure equitable accessibility.

Undertaking this work is essential to the Symphony’s mission to unleash the power of music, bring people together, and lift the human spirit. By making strategic investments in our people and programming, we look to create new opportunities for people across the full community spectrum to be involved and fully engaged at every level of our organization, as well as amplify the unique and diverse voices that have gone unheard in the symphonic setting for far too long.

The plan described above reflects the unique set of priorities championed by the Seattle Symphony’s staff and musicians, who have been deeply involved in this work over the past eight years. Most recently, the Symphony has taken significant steps in beginning to achieve these goals on the leadership level, including establishing a Board Equity Committee, expanding the Board Executive Committee to include greater diversity in representation, and electing the first board member from a Native tribe. The Board Equity Committee, along with staff and musician Equity Committees, will continue their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in order to achieve the stated goals above.