Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
More than 200 people, representing the LA Phil’s orchestra, board, staff, and Youth Orchestra LA alumni, were engaged in the creation of the following DEI Guiding Statement. While these individuals may be radically different from one another with respect to their lived experiences, histories, and identities, they share a belief in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as in the role music and the arts have to play in building a better, more compassionate world.
This is ongoing work that will continue to evolve and from which we will continue to learn—we will share those learnings, our progress, and our programs on this page in the weeks, months, and years to come.
The LA Phil utilizes the definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion used by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative (CEII). These definitions can be found on Page 17 of the LA County Arts CEII report, which can be found here.
DEI Guiding Statement
The LA Phil began its life as an orchestra in 1919. Today, the orchestra is the foundation and heart of an institution that has evolved to also include a wide range of performing arts presentations, the music learning initiative Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), the stewardship of four venues—Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford, and the Beckmen YOLA Center—and a growing media presence.
Over the past 100-plus years, the LA Phil’s understanding of what we now call DEI—diversity, equity, and inclusion—has also grown more complex. What began in the 1920s as rare and isolated moments of diverse representation on stage has, over time, given way to more holistic approaches to diversity, as well as considerations of cultural equity and inclusivity.
As the organization continues to evolve, we are guided by the words of LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel who said, “The future is the present.” We take responsibility for the future through our actions and aspirations today. The following document, a summary of our beliefs and commitments to DEI, is intended to do just that—help shape our future by informing our organizational priorities and investments in the present.
The statement will act as a guide as we work to a) create a more culturally equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization and b) contribute to a more empathetic and just society through music and the arts.
It is also a living document that will grow and change as we do. A commitment to DEI is ongoing. There will always be more to learn and more work to do, as we strive to act consciously and conscientiously.
Our Core Beliefs
The following is a set of core beliefs that underpins our DEI efforts. They are important truths that represent our understanding of music, DEI, and the importance of both self-reflection and learning from others.
Power of Music
Music and the performing arts are foundational to the quality of our lives and the vibrancy and resilience of communities. They have the power to enhance empathy, understanding, and inclusion and offer a vision of a more just and compassionate world.
Importance of DEI
Centering diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of our work is of critical importance in realizing our ability to inspire, empower, and connect through music and the performing arts. In our musicmaking, a commitment to DEI also strengthens the quality of the art itself, opening up new possibilities for musical excellence and invention.
We have a responsibility to work towards cultural equity. Cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically excluded due to race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, ability, and the intersection of various identities as well as those whose identities may emerge or be named in the future—have equitable access to musical, artistic, and learning opportunities as artists, advocates, audiences, and arts professionals.
Varied perspectives help generate better ideas to solve complex problems and promote artistic and administrative creativity. In order for these perspectives to emerge and make an impact, we must foster and maintain a sense of belonging, empowerment, respect, and safety.
To remain a culturally relevant and thriving organization now and in the future, we must responsibly listen and learn from our current and potential constituencies and evolve as a result of the lessons we learn. We must also critically examine our past and our power in order to understand their impact on our arts and civic ecosystems, as well as on the individuals directly engaged with and by the LA Phil.
Our Guiding Commitments
The following guiding commitments will inform the organization’s priorities and investments and will form the basis of a more detailed DEI action plan. Through these commitments, we will embody and act on the beliefs described above by:
Access to the Arts
Providing access to musical and performing arts experiences by reducing barriers to participation and contributing to systemic change within our field and sphere of influence that will lead to greater cultural equity.
Diverse Artists, Audiences, and Arts Professionals
Diversifying the artists, audiences, and arts professionals engaged in our work. We seek to promote many different types of diversity, but because of our country’s and our field’s long history of racial inequity, we are especially invested in celebrating the talent and artistry of performers of color on stage and supporting voices of color behind the scenes.
Equitable Community Partnerships
Fostering strong, sustainable, and equitable partnerships by building trust and understanding over time through listening, collaboration, and humility. In order to establish equitable partnerships, particularly with smaller budget organizations, we must recognize the relative socioeconomic power we possess as the result of systemic racism and utilize the resources available to us responsibly.
Understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion as everyone’s responsibility. We will ask such questions as “Whose voice is missing from the conversation?” when considering both broad-based organizational issues and the smaller, everyday decisions that fall into our individual scopes of influence.
Nurturing a company culture that strives to be equitable, diverse, and inclusive by developing formal, transparent goals, policies, and practices that will sustain our DEI values; cultivating a brave space for ongoing discussion and work; and offering substantive DEI learning and growth opportunities.
Regularly assessing the effectiveness of our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and procedures and modifying them in response to our findings. We will further hold ourselves accountable by making our progress public through such external communications vehicles as a DEI annual report.