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CSO Partners With Niman To Launch The National Instrumentalist Mentoring And Advancement Network 

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has played a significant role in the formation of a new organization that launches today: The National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN), established to address the lack of racial equity in the classical music field. NIMAN, a national association of organizations and individuals, has been created for members to align resources and collaborate to strengthen the trajectory of classical instrumentalists of color. Programs and services will be designed to encourage and empower BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) musicians starting in their formative musical years through advanced training and careers in classical music.

"There are so many young and talented BIPOC musicians who simply don't have the tools or support to advance in classical music," said NIMAN Founding Volunteer and Play On Philly Founder and Executive Director Stanford Thompson. "At the same time, our music institutions exhibit systemic racism, unconscious bias, and white supremacy that generates imbalances of equity, equality, and access. NIMAN was created to address both parts of the equation. By mentoring young musicians while simultaneously assisting music institutions in breaking down barriers, we hope to literally change the face of classical music throughout the next generation."

"There have been countless programs and initiatives over the years that individually address the myriad issues young artists of color experience, and orchestras have also been going through an awakening about their own practices. Until now, there has been no single resource to connect all the dots and shepherd talented musicians of color through the long and complicated process between starting as a student and maturing into a professional," said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra President & CEO Jonathan Martin. "The CSO is proud to be an early partner of NIMAN and to have served as an incubator. The time is ripe for orchestras to contribute to-and ultimately benefit from-the resources NIMAN will provide."


NIMAN is the culmination of years of planning, meeting, and multi-day convenings of industry leaders, educators, and musicians with a singular goal: to establish racial equity in a historically European-dominated field. Over a dozen volunteers representing music organizations across the musical continuum worked collaboratively to lay the foundation for NIMAN's launch. With inspired support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation and ArtsWave, the association is ready to begin accepting members and launch its first programs and services.

Member organizations will be supported in sharing resources and information that will be tailored to address the mentoring and advancement needs of each musician interested in a professional career in classical music. By working collaboratively, NIMAN can focus its resources on leading progress on a national scale capable of transforming the careers of talented musicians of color and musical organizations seeking to play their role in bringing about substantive change in our field of classical music.

The Association and Membership

As a membership-based national association, NIMAN will work as a connector, convener, and facilitator between music organizations and BIPOC classical instrumentalists. Examples of services to members include: • Access to a comprehensive bridge of support and mentorship for aspiring BIPOC instrumentalists; • Matching instrumentalists with advancement opportunities and mentors;

• Facilitating recruitment of prospective musicians from underrepresented ethnicities; • Forums, resources, and training to aid in dismantling structural inequities, biases, and systemic racism.


The organization is currently accepting nominations for candidates for the inaugural NIMAN Board of Directors who are passionate about and dedicated to creating inclusive systems for classical musicians of color to thrive in the field. Board members will represent a diversity of race, gender, gender identity, life experience, professional background and expertise.

Task Forces

NIMAN's Task Forces allow members and volunteers to lend their expertise to essential aspects of our mission. Our Artist Mentor program and Advisory Council are designed to provide one-on-one guidance for aspiring BIPOC instrumentalists and to advise NIMAN on a broad range of issues related to building equitable opportunities. Member Engagement and Nominating and Governance task forces focus on strengthening the value of NIMAN membership as well as facilitating general governing operations.

NIMAN has actively begun recruiting members and has adopted a pay-what-you-can policy in light of challenges brought on by COVID-19. Information about dues for individuals and organizations can be found at

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