Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Snapshot of Seattle Opera's Racial Equity Plan

Seattle Opera staff at the Arts March for Racial Justice and Equity organized by the Seattle Symphony Players' Organization June 2, 2020. The march was organized in solidarity with the Black community following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. 

“The opera stage is becoming a space of liberation for Black voices.” —Naomi AndrĂ©, Seattle Opera Scholar in Residence

We are not custodians of the old order. We are not curators of establishment art. We must be oriented towards the future. It is our business to improve the quality of life. We had better become positive and not just stand by.” —Glynn Ross, Founding General Director of Seattle Opera

This past year in 2019, Seattle Opera has been working to create a comprehensive Racial Equity and Social Impact Plan. While the company faces a challenging road ahead due to COVID-19, we will continue to integrate racial justice holistically into all aspects of our work, even if we're not entirely sure what opera performances will look like in the months ahead. Whether we're performing for audiences in-person, or onstage, here's a few excerpts from our plan to move toward racial justice (full plan will also be available on Seattle Opera's website):

- Formalize and implement racial equity practices and policies across all departments of the company. Commit to intentional institutional restructuring based upon anti-racist analysis and identity.

- Increase the percentage of Seattle Opera stakeholders (i.e. staff, volunteers, board members, etc.) who understand and participate in racial equity and social impact work. Create buy-in for a shared vision of overcoming systemic racism and all other forms of oppression.

- Increase the company’s racial and ethnic diversity among staff, artists, creative team members, board and more to reflect the diversity of the Puget Sound region (multicultural diversity becomes an institutionalized asset). Members across all identity groups are full participants in decisions that shape the institution.

Next week, we'll be sharing more about our racial equity plan on the Seattle Opera blog through an interview with Dominica Myers—the driving force behind these equity initiatives, and the company's Associate Director of Administration.