South Dakota Symphony Receives Catalyst Fund Grant To Advance Equity, Diversity, And Inclusion

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South Dakota Symphony Receives Catalyst Fund Grant To Advance Equity, Diversity, And Inclusion

The League of American Orchestras has awarded a $18,760 grant to the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) to strengthen their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and to help transform organizational culture. Given to just twenty-eight orchestras nationwide, the one-year grants comprise the second round of The Catalyst Fund, the League's three-year, $2.1 million grant-making program, made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

"We are grateful that the League of American Orchestras has created the Catalyst Fund to support transforming organizational culture throughout our industry, and we are thrilled to have been named a recipient of the award," said SDSO Executive Director Jennifer Teisinger. "The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is committed to continuing to foster inclusion and diversity, and this grant offers us the resources to better implement these principles within our organization, especially as we strive to foster deeper bonds with all people and to develop diverse audiences of orchestral music."

"Recent events have underscored the deep racial disparities existing in our country, already amplified by the pandemic's unequal impact on communities of color," said Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. "The work orchestras are undertaking with support from the League's Catalyst Fund highlights the urgency of addressing EDI as orchestras attempt to confront decades of inequity within our field. We must understand and address our personal and organizational roles in systems of inequity."

Preliminary analysis of the inaugural 2019 Catalyst Fund cohort demonstrates support and progress among orchestras, including an increased commitment and dedication to individual orchestras' EDI work and an increased awareness that systemic change requires a sustained effort over time.

Catalyst Fund grants support orchestras' use of EDI practitioners who help implement a range of organizational development activities involving musicians, staff, board, and, in some cases, volunteers and community leaders. These include anti-bias trainings, institutional audits, the creation of formal EDI plans, and work to build consensus and integrate EDI into mission statements and culture. Community building is a key component of the program; The Catalyst Fund Learning Cohort, made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, enables past and present grantees to interact with colleagues through remote and (post-pandemic) in-person convenings as well a dedicated online forum.

The Catalyst Fund is informed by earlier dialogue and research. A major national convening co-hosted by the League and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December 2015 was catalytic in launching national task forces and annual convenings to engage orchestras in EDI efforts. Two important League studies, Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field, and Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras' Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians, further served to inform and stimulate action. In April 2018 the League launched, in partnership with The Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony, the National Alliance for Audition Support, a national initiative that offers Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, and audition travel stipends. Additional information on these programs and other EDI activity, including information about the League's EDI Strategic Framework, is available from the League's online EDI Resource Center.

League member orchestras were eligible to apply for Catalyst Fund grants; applications were reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

2020 Catalyst Fund Grant Recipients

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Sinfonietta

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

DC Youth Orchestra Program

East Texas Symphony Orchestra

Empire State Youth Orchestra

Grand Rapids Symphony

Handel and Haydn Society

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Minnesota Orchestra

Nashville Symphony

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

New Jersey Youth Symphony

New World Symphony

North Carolina Symphony

Oakland Symphony

Pacific Symphony

Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Richmond Symphony

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

San Francisco Symphony

Seattle Symphony

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra

Virginia Symphony Orchestra

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