The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Center

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Center is designed to provide practical and helpful insight, advice, and a path to greater diversity and inclusion in every part of your organization. Hundreds of free resources — including two pioneering diversity studies published by the League — are available to help you better understand and create a deeper connection with your community. To get started, choose an interest area from the menu on the right or scroll down to see the most recently added content.

Click here for photo credits.

League EDI Update, 2020

New Resources on Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Among Board and Staff

Organizations are most effective when their work is governed and delivered by people who represent the diversity of the communities they serve. We’ve curated a new set of resources designed to support orchestras’ efforts to attract and retain diverse orchestra boards and staff. They are made possible by generous funding from the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust.

A Strategic Framework for EDI

At its January 2019 meeting, the League of American Orchestras’ board of directors adopted a strategic framework for the League’s work in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the orchestral field. “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: An Evolving Strategic Framework” outlines why EDI is important to the League, and why the League thinks it’s important for all orchestras. The document provides a definition of terms, as well the League’s vision, values, goals, and strategies related to EDI. While the framework was designed for use by the League, it may inform or inspire similar reflections, conversations, and statements by member orchestras, who may adapt as much of the framework as they wish. 

Board Diversity

A report from Koya Leadership Partners that provides an overview of the current state of diversity on boards as well as actionable steps that boards can take to increase diversity and inclusion.

At its April 2019 meeting, the Board of Directors of the League adopted a policy statement on diversity and inclusion on the League Board.


Resources for Diversity in Repertoire

Recent News

Come Out and Play

An article in the Summer 2019 Issue of Symphony magazine reports on how representation and inclusion of LGBTQ+ composers, musicians, and audiences is on the rise at U.S. orchestras.

The Catalyst Fund

The League has announced the launch of The Catalyst Fund, a three-year pilot program of annual grants to adult and youth orchestras that aims to advance their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and to foster effective EDI practices. The Catalyst Fund is supported by a three-year, $2.1 million grant to the League from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Read more here.

National Alliance for Audition Support


On April 18, 2018, the League of American Orchestras, along with its partners, The Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony, announced the National Alliance for Audition Support, an initiative that began with a discussion at a Diversity Forum convened by the League of American Orchestras and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2015.  Read more here

Commentary from Jesse Rosen

A Time to Act (August 2017)
Read a statement from our CEO, Jesse Rosen, on the role of orchestras in this time of escalated divisiveness and intolerance.

Confronting homogeneity at American orchestras is the focus of Jesse Rosen’s article in Grantmakers in the Arts’ GIA Reader. Read it here.


Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field

Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field, commissioned by the League with research and data analysis by Dr. James Doeser, reports on gender and ethnic/racial diversity in orchestras among musicians, conductors, staff, executives, and board members. Learn more.

Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras’ Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians

Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras' Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians, commissioned by the League with research and analysis by Nick Rabkin and Monica Hairston O'Connell, is an in-depth examination of orchestras' past efforts to diversify their musician ranks with fellowships for African American and Latino musicians. The report presents program and impact data about diversity fellowships from 1976 to the present day, and explores the perspectives of fellowship program alumni. Learn more.


Our 2017 report Of and For the Community includes essential demographics statistics for participants in orchestras’ education and community engagement (EdCE) programs. It also explores how orchestras are establishing increasingly dynamic partnerships with the communities they serve, as a basis for meaningful engagement with new and more diverse audiences.  

Conference 2017 — Detroit Rising / Transformation in American Orchestras

The League’s 72nd National Conference took place in Detroit, June 6-8, 2017. Sessions included:

  • The 2017 Diversity Forum was the League’s third national convening of leaders from the field to address strategic priorities including a national diversity audition fund, national instrumentalist mentorship and audition training, field-wide board and staff diversity, and music education pathways.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Action
  • No Sound Barriers: Sphinx at 20

Conference 2016 — The Richness of Difference

Nearly 1,000 orchestra administrators, musicians, trustees, and volunteers gathered in Baltimore for the League's 71st National Conference June 9-11. This year's conference focused on diversity, particularly as it relates to increasing the involvement of members of underrepresented communities in all aspects of our orchestras—on stage, in the board room and the executive offices, and in the audience.


Powerful address on diversity from The Honorable Elijah Cummings, U.S. Representative (MD-7)


Keynote speaker Earl Lewis, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Address from DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist; Address from Dr. Monique Chism, deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs, OESE, U.S. Department of Education; Closing Luncheon Remarks and Panel



Case study of the nation's largest El Sistema-inspired program, OrchKids



Developing Your Diversity Plan




Session on Resourcing Diversity Work with Janet Brown, president & CEO, Grantmakers in the Arts; Susan Feder, program officer, performing arts, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Marian Godfrey, cultural advisor, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; Edwin Torres, deputy commissioner, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs


Session on Inclusive Leadership with Andrés Tapia, senior client partner, Korn Ferry Hay Group and author of The Inclusion Paradox - 2nd Edition: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity.



Music Unwound: Connecting Underrepresented Communities to Orchestras through the Humanities



Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Diversity Fellowship overview


Symphony Articles

A New Will to Confront Homogeneity in American Orchestras: this article by League President and CEO Jesse Rosen originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of the GIA Reader, a publication of Grantmakers in the Arts.

How Can Orchestras Become More Diverse: League President and CEO speaks with a roundtable of distinguished African American orchestral musicians about their lives at American orchestras.

The State of the Board: Report from BoardSource on board diversity—and how to increase it.

Forward Steps: Orchestras are working to broaden musician diversity with a rich array of talent-development projects, fellowships, and mentoring programs.


The Diversity & Inclusion Resource Center is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Resources are categorized by topic: 

Photo Credits (clockwise from upper left):

The Pacific Symphony’s Lantern Festival. Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony.

The League of American Orchestras’ 2017 National Conference included a session entitled Classical Musicians of African Descent: Perspectives, Aspirations, and Outlook. Pictured (left to right): Judith Dines, Flute, Houston Symphony Orchestra, principal flute, Gateways Music Festival; Alex Laing, principal clarinet, The Phoenix Symphony, principal clarinet, Gateways Music Festival; clarinet; Gateways Music Festival; Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin, Gateways Music Festival; and Ann Hobson Pilot, former principal harpist, Boston Symphony Orchestra. The session also included (not pictured): Lee Koonce, president and artistic director, Gateways Music Festival and Michael Morgan, music director and conductor, Oakland Symphony, artistic director, Gateways Music Festival, as well as session moderator Jesse Rosen, president and CEO, League of American Orchestras. Photo credit: Doug Coombe

Seattle Symphony’s Native Lands Community Composition Project received a Getty Education and Community Investment Grant in 2015 for residencies, multi-generational cultural exchanges, and a culminating performance of the Potlatch Symphony. Photo credit: Robert Wade

As part of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s work in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, Conductor Adam Pezdek leads the Community Opus Project’s Esperanza Band in a rehearsal in March 2016. Photo credit: Kaitlyn Korogy

Symphony Magazine, the League’s award-winning publication, featured Gateways Music Festival in their Winter 2016 issue, pictured.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, one of six conductors featured in the League’s 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview. Photo credit: Karen Almond (upper photo)

Yakima Symphony Orchestra received a Getty Education and Community Investment Grant in 2016 for Yakima Music en Acción (YAMA). Photo credit: Stephanie Hsu (lower photo)

The League of American Orchestras’ 2016 National Conference, “The Richness of Difference,” featured an address from civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson. Photo credit: Richard Lippenholz

back to top