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A Statement from Carnegie Hall: Connecting Vision and Action

Dear Friend of Carnegie Hall,

As an arts institution dedicated to bringing the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience, a central commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility has long been fundamental to Carnegie Hall’s mission-driven work. It is an integral part of what we believe and what we do.

Yet despite the efforts of so many who work toward greater equity in this world, we are devastated to see that the Black community once again finds itself in extreme pain, mourning the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, among others. The loss of these lives is representative of the 400-year inhumane legacy of slavery, which continues to manifest itself through systemic prejudice and discrimination against Black people in the United States. All of us at Carnegie Hall have been challenged to listen, learn, and reflect—and to consider how we can be even more present as a platform for the voices of the Black community.

On May 31, we announced publicly that the Hall stands in solidarity with the Black community and all those who seek to use their own platforms to eradicate racism, violence, and injustice. Words without deeds, however, mean nothing. At best, they can only be the beginning: Unless they are translated into action, our world will never change. The events of recent weeks have made it imperative that we reaffirm our programming and operations approach to ensure that the work we do is meaningful, solutions-oriented, and driving toward a racially just society.

Among these actions are:

  • Amplifying the voices of Black artists, composers, and community members through performances on our main stages and as part of Carnegie Hall festivals, commissions, and creative learning projects, supporting them in telling their stories and relating their personal experiences through music and words;
  • Offering a wide range of music education and social impact programs for free or at very low cost, designed to lower personal and systemic barriers to participation among students and community members, especially in our diverse New York City neighborhoods;
  • Placing special focus on equipping music educators with meaningful tools and building opportunities for connection with one another to strengthen classrooms in all communities;
  • Creating local and national programs that support pathways for young musicians from all backgrounds, enabling them to find talent development opportunities and greater success, both in the field of music and beyond;
  • Continuing our longstanding work to develop programs for and with people involved in the justice system—a systemic setting that disproportionately affects people of color—to ensure that music can be made, stories told, and the arts used as a tool for justice reform;
  • Partnering with artists and institutions across our city to bring music into our neighborhoods, including free Carnegie Hall Citywide performances in all five boroughs and free arts workshops through NeON Arts designed for our young people;
  • Reaffirming our commitment to achieving greater diversity on our Board of Trustees and staff to ensure a wide representation of voices across all our decision making.

We understand that there will always be more work to be done, as together we continue to confront and address inequities. Our commitment to these necessary and fundamental changes must be ongoing, requiring continuing dialogue with the communities we serve. It is a journey on which we all need to travel as partners, based on shared values and a vision of the society in which future generations have equal opportunities to thrive. We need to create a shared understanding of the role that Carnegie Hall can play in working towards this goal.

We welcome your questions and input anytime. Please feel free to connect with us at feedback@carnegiehall.org. We can’t thank you enough for being a part of our Carnegie Hall family.

Sincerely,

Robert F. Smith Signature
Robert F. Smith
Chairman, Board of Trustees

Clive Gillinson Signature
Clive Gillinson
Executive and Artistic Director

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