The Met hires a Chief Diversity Officer (but won’t pay its orchestra)

The Metropolitan Opera has planted another self-promo article in the supine NY Times, this time about its commitment to equality:

Today, we are excited to announce the appointment of Marcia Sells as the Met’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Learn more about Ms. Sells and our plans for the future …

Nothing about the orchestra players whose salary it hasn’t paid for 10 months.

 

 

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • Jessye Norman, Grace Bumbry, Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett, Kathleen Battle, among many others, did not need any “Chief Diversity Officer” to have a world career as top opera singers…
    Although the Met salaries are not paid since 10 months, which is totally wrong and horrible, the main issue about this news is that a new job was invented to satisy the present “political correctness” (especially in the USA), which is really frightening and insane!
    It is not like that there are many talents that do not have any place in this world because of the color of their skin or because of their sexual orientation… Whoever has a talent will eventually succeed, no matter if he or she fits in being “diverse” or not. Real talent should count today, more than ever!
    Shameful!

    • Things are SO insane in the U.S. now that meritocracy is deemed be racist… Sad state of affairs, indeed… Mourn for its great orchestra, perhaps the best legacy left by the now disgraced Levine.

    • I just watched a press conference by Susan Rice where she states that the current administration will focus on equity, not equality. As far as I can tell that means reverse discrimination. That won’t be good for classical music.

      • Indeed most lists, articles and Opera House SUPPORT has always discriminated against vocalists with lower voice types.

        Males specifically have not been treated as ‘EQUALLY’ shall we say in general unless they are Tenors. Baritones and particularly BASS-BARITONES and BASSES (with the exception of Ramey and White for older readers) have endured the most DISCRIMINATION by both composers and critics/reporters/bloggers for centuries. Anyone either known or having star status in the last 25 years come to mind without looking anyone up??? Anybody?

      • Were there any who tried to have a singing career and did not succeed because of their skin color?
        Do you know any tenor, baritone or bass who was really so good but who had to suffer because of his skin color?
        I will also give you the answer: NO!
        What is the proportion of skin colored people (not allowed to use the “b” word today, because I would be called a racist, that’s how wrong things are today!!!!!) that are studying in music academies or are having a proper training for a singing career?
        Let’s not be hypocrite, please, history and the past cannot be changed and changing the future just because of an overreacted “political correctness” will never bring something good.
        Meritrocracy is the only thing that should count, not making the quota of “diverse” people in a company, whatever that company might be.

        • “Do you know any tenor, baritone or bass who was really so good but who had to suffer because of his skin color?
          I will also give you the answer: NO!” you’re dead wrong Lydia. Our race worked directly against some of us.

          You certainly are conveniently unaware of how Jimmy Levine operated amongst younger men in particular for DECADES Lydia.

          Numerous good-looking, younger appearing white and Latin men were targeted by Jimmy and rejected his advances. Italian boys with dark hair really lit Jimmy’s fire btw. It cost all of us our chance to sing at the Met and a handful killed themselves due to shattered dreams and deep embarrassment. Note both the Met bookings, chorus and especially the Lindemann program.

          Disingenuous attitudes like yours Lydia kept people like me from speaking out and offered justice for our sexual assaults. Clearly most women need remedial education or plain empathy for men’s issues beyond your own sex and race. Perhaps classes at university will finally become part of basic education. The Met Board/Gelb/Levine case is historical fact spanning 4 decades to learn from ending in Jimmy’s firing.

          To answer your hideous question of “Do you know any tenor, baritone or bass who was really so good but who had to suffer because of his skin color?” YES! ME! My wrist is still scarred. I further remember others, 2 who leapt from buildings and 3 who shot themselves out of shame.

    • Perhaps she’ll “diversify” the cracka Board!!

      Too many whites donating too.

      Let the hatred of whites reign while disavowing talent, academics and common sense.

    • Peter, I think you over-state year case. Discrimination of many types has been present across the music world. Talent was not the only criteria for success, and many people missed opportunities to rise because they didn’t fit in. I think most people know that to be an uncomfortable truth.

      Appointing Chief Diversity Officers in this way may not be the solution. But let’s not pretend there has never been a problem.

    • The chief diversity officer (CDO) is an organization’s executive-level diversity and inclusion strategist. Roughly 20% of Fortune 500 companies employ [one]. … Only recently has there been a discussion about the … education and credentials [a] diversity officer needs. [The] role remains tied to human resource management (HRM) functions. Higher-education CDOs tend to have doctoral degrees. … Diversity certification refers to credential training that empowers professionals [and] drives their career in consulting … and [in] managing diversity. … Training prepares [people] to serve in the “cultural diversity profession” role [with] expertise in managing and leading programs designed to foster productive relationships among people of different cultures. Diversity Training University International (DTUI) offered the first cultural diversity professional (CDP) and cultural diversity trainer (CDT) credentialing program in 1998.
      Edited from Wikipedia

      • When she’s firing whites to stick blacks in, we all hope Peter and part of the Board goes IF the Met survives.

        Poor stage crew; literally!

        Her riding on the coattails of a super-successful institution with a FAT SALARY tells everyone all they need to prepare for. Sudden “cancellations” of positions that sprout up immediately with new requirements and less schooling and experience.

  • Shame on Gelb. What a thing to do right now. How pathetic is he that to get the PR he’s looking for. To get people off his back he pretends to care about diversity. He’s trying to diverse the attention from his hundreds of starving employees by paying someone? What is he thinking? Disgrace. Wake up board. This guy is destroying any remaining memories of the great Met

  • How revolting for broke players, singers and existing staff.

    No point in coming back especially if you’re white. For those that do, they’ll be questioned about their whiteness along with side issues having nothing to do with the profession and run out.

    Careful what you wish for!
    Surprises ahead kiddies…

    • Exactly. This will have the eventual effect here and in other places that hire these positions of excluding talent simply because one is white. Mark my words. This is ridiculous in my opinion.

  • The MET organization has had its head up its ass since the days of Toscanini.
    Nothing against Marcia Sells, to be sure, and I wish her luck, but sheesh….

    • Don’t worry too much. She’ll get extremely frustrated soon enough.

      Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. did the same things. It’s all for show. Nothing more.

      All of these businesses were created by white males. Aptitudes reflect the bell curve highlighting Asians and Europeans. It’s precisely why they fight relentlessly for “immigration” yet the flow of H1B and H-4 visas is life or death for these California Libs!

  • The Manhattan stagehand union, IATSE Local 1, has been notorious over the years for not admitting minority members.

      • How many white men do you believe must be discriminated against within the board, administration, donor lists, singer, player, stagehand, administrator rosters to achieve inclusion??

        This of course is the essence of a Chief Diversity Officer’s purpose.

  • Hopefully she’ll enact some meaningful diversity and fire Gelb.

    It’s not like contracts actually mean anything at the MET. Just ask the singers, players and crew!

  • If they have a Chief Diversity Officer, does that mean that they also have a number of subordinate diversity officers ? Not being burdened by the need to perform music any more, this is a great time to explore how to run an organisation for the sake of running an organisation.

  • The orchestra members have not been paid because there have been no performances due to a deadly global pandemic and thus no need for orchestral musicians. They have been offered deal in which they are paid throughout the pandemic in return for salary reductions until the Met’s box office returns to pre-pandemic levels. Similar contractual arrangements have been agreed upon by the musicians of the New York Philharmonic as well as members of other predominant American arts organizations.

    A chief diversity officer presumably works (Planning future initiatives, etc.) even when performances are not continuing and thus should be paid.

    • Amazing and not surprising that the clearest and most sensible comment on this thread is voted down almost unanimously.

      Everything in this comment is absolutely true. The caveat is that the MET is terribly tone-deaf in its communication and messaging, but there’s absolutely no realistic way that the MET (and almost all other performing arts organizations) will be able to return to compensating everyone at pre-pandemic levels right away. And the more bickering toward the MET, the more this will be true. The more people keep saying “boycott the MET” or “don’t donate to the MET ever again,” the less likely any of those unemployed folks will ever get been on payroll ever again.

    • That is incorrect. Salary reductions proposed by management are permanent, they are effectively 50 percent now and 35 percent when the Box Office returns to pre-pandemic levels, estimated by 2024-25. This is NOT similar to other predominant arts organizations.

    • Everything you’re saying is true, and I up-voted your comment. However, what you’re missing is that Gelb is refusing to negotiate in good faith, nor is he even a bit interested in the welfare of the orchestra. Now, none of us can read his mind, so how do we know this? We can only know from what he shows, right? What he shows gives the impression that this is true. How hard has he worked to come up with a solution? Is he working behind the scenes in confidentiality? Not according to his past actions, so we have no reason to believe that efforts are being made.

    • Solo artists that have had contracts canceled for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 season have had all signed contracts canceled and nothing paid. Zero. And no offer of any deal either. I don’t believe there is enough coverage of the plight of the professional singer in the us, in comparison to both the chorus and orchestra

      • Clearly people just don’t care.

        The slipped disc community certainly doesn’t between the consistent lack of pro-singer articles and comments even broaching the issues we face.

    • There are orchestras in the US that have still paid their musicians their full salary while having had to cancel an entire season. On the other hand we have an organization like the Met which has stopped paying it’s devoted employees while still being able to find them money to throw away on a useless, feel good, politically correct public relations stunt. You are defending the indefensible.

  • I’ve been listening to the Met radio broadcasts for years, but I’ll have to quit after this. Sad to see yet another American institution fall to Leftist corruption.

    • That’s interesting, and worth a watch. I tend to agree with it. I remember mixing with students from a range of backgrounds, co-workers in my summer jobs, and later in my daily working life, of various ethnicities and sexual orientations, and there were plenty of women in senior positions, including me. Nobody discussed diversity or inclusion. People were just accepted. The only racist comments I ever heard were at university, from Jewish friends about Arab students.

      If anybody had suggested a training course on “unconscious bias” in my workplaces, it would have been laughed out of the room — by everyone.

      Not directly relevant in this story — a “Diversity Officer” is presumably there to see that nobody is excluded on racial grounds. Seems to me that should be a job requirement of any HR officer.

      • Bravo, V. Lind. That said, I gladly admit to having a very conscious bias against incompetent administrators.

  • This would be sad and heartbreaking, if it weren’t so pathetic and disgusting. Well…at least the MET has solved racism…

  • It’s not particularly complicated – Gelb himself states in the NYT article that hiring Ms. Sells will allow the Met to have new opportunities (for PR), so it Sells, as it were, its newfound vigor in addressing systemic inequalities in the arts and gets access to considerable corporate grants and funding to do so, newly made available post-George Floyd.

    300k to pay her = millions of dollars to get BIPOC artists on stage, whatever that initiative’s degree of success. Good publicity, jumping on the bandwagon, and money. Great Success!

  • If they are doing sweet FA, what is there to be diverse (or anything else) about? They do seem to be world class at shooting themselves in the foot.

    • Reminds me of the Yes. Minister episode where a completed hospital has 500 administrators — and no medical staff, or patients. But it is extremely well-run and hygienic!

      The Met will be totally diverse — well-administered — but utterly silent of music!

    • Musicians can work during covid. There are many orchestras that have found creative solutions to keep musicians on stage.

      • How stupid are you?!?!

        The met and all of Lincoln Center have remained completely CLOSED all this time.

        They even barricaded the area off with a Trump inspired wall.

  • More affirmative action steps in this woke society. Talent should be the only thing that matters in the performing arts, not skin color or ethnicity. That’s why the screen is there for orchestral auditions. I am sure in the near future screens will be banned as well. If the Met wants to make their admin staff diversity, so be it. The Met has shown their true colors during the pandemic, and it ain’t pretty. Disgraceful.

  • The timing of this is weird. What on earth is a company that can’t or won’t pay its existing people doing making a high-level, high-cost hire? “I truly believe that this is the Met’s moment,” she says — is it? why is it?

    Wouldn’t it be a little better to get everyone back to work and ON THE PAYROLL before hiring someone to oversee Human Resources and make “diversity” the most important concern of an institution whose purpose is to put the best music it can on a stage, using the best artists it can get?

    I remain committed to the idea that no door should be closed to anybody, and no opportunity restricted by race, sex, any other “identity” issue. But I am equally committed to the idea that ability trumps everything else, be it on the stage or in the accounting office. And if not enough “diverse” people turn up to apply for positions at the Met who are qualified to take on the roles on offer — and we know this is more likely to happen on the stage and in the pit than in the offices — then the “diversity officers” of the world are placing their focus in the wrong places.

    The attention belongs to education and curricula and the introduction of young people to the world of classical music. It may take a generation but it WILL happen if the opportunities to learn are available to all. NOTHING good comes out of offering anything less than the best on the stages of the world.

    Let’s just hope this sudden flurry of “diverse” music is good enough to take its place alongside the repertoire that already rotates at the Met. It is all too likely that the powers that be had closed ears and closed minds for all too long and that work of real quality was overlooked, and if that stops, everyone benefits.

    It’s much more exciting to do this sort of job at the Met (or Harvard) than in schools. But it’s not there that the real work needs doing. All enforced diversity means is affirmative action by another name. It’s a panacea, not a solution.

  • Oh great, another opportunity for Norman to bash the Met, with the bonus that the word “diversity” is red meat to all the snarling Neanderthals here waiting and ready to pounce.

  • 1) A well reported article by Barone, a new generation in arts coverage at the NYT with real reporting and readership engagement.

    2) Come again? She left Harvard (with its billions in endowment) for the Met, a sinking ship if there ever was one?? She could’ve stayed comfortably at Harvard Law until retirement. The Met is a lost cause!!

    • There must be a back story. No one in their right mind would join the Met Opera at this moment, especially after the security of Harvard. Stay tuned.

  • I have no beef with arts organizations working to increase diversity in programming, hiring and audiences, but only if they’re in decent financial fettle. This, however, seems hardly the right time for this emphasis — unless something’s going on behind the scenes that makes it prudent to begin such activities far in advance of the resumption of performances. I can’t imagine what that something might be…

  • 3) So she thinks she does more social good by working for the Met than for Harvard Law, veritable factory of presidents and supreme court justices, because a properly cast Porgy and Bess will bring more racial justice than a properly educated future senator.

    OK.

    • Good point!

      Apparently the next Porgy and Bess along with Fire Shot Up In My Bones by NYT Lib, Blow will use “diverse” casting in its principals to reflect the gay, asian, american indian, jewish, latinx, experiences.

      Strange Porgy and Bess has been allowed to discriminate in their casting.

  • I’d laugh if I weren’t crying.

    There IS no Met Opera and there won’t be for at least another year. You have to pay employees to have employees. No orchestra, no chorus, nada.

    So they’re burning what little money they have left? At least City Opera could blame its demise on a misguided GM hire by an ignorant board member.

  • This is certainly an important development that will greatly impact the organization’s ability to bring high-quality music to patrons.
    Said no one ever.

    • High-quality music isn’t the point anymore. Racial equity is more important than anything else now. I wonder how long this upside down policy will last. It has to end sometime. It’s bound to backfire badly.

  • No more Viola jokes?
    Vegan food always available in the cantina?
    The Bassoon player can take a knee during the playing of the national anthem before each concert?
    If so, I say “bring on the diversity!!!!”

  • Norman, ask to see the job description.

    As America’s largest performing arts group the Met will be operating under “best practices” and so can provide the world a gauge on what this new role entails, how much it costs, what changes it imposes on the group, and above all why exactly it is being created in so many groups.

  • Norman, while not paying its musicians is scandalous, I wonder why you would think they Met would talk about ‘the orchestra players whose salary it hasn’t paid for 10 months’ in an article announcing an unrelated position? Fight for the musicians, yes, but don’t make tenuous and unrelated links.

    • A bit daft to not see the link. Maybe her position is an appropriate one, but to add it at this point in time seems misguided. Pay the musicians!

  • Hard to imagine a more strikingly hypocritical example of the intellectual rot at the heart of political correctness.
    We’re all going to be equal. Oh, by the way, we’re going to define equality for you.

  • Surely the fact that there will be no Met company to work for in the future, makes Ms Sells job a waste of time and money this opera company can ill afford?

  • I wish Ms. Sells a lot of luck in creating diversity in the audience. I have been going to the Met for decades. At any given performance the audience appears to be over 90% white. However the white Met audience is very receptive to good performances sung by principals who are black, latino, or asian and I don’t see fewer seats sold when the leads are sung by non-whites.
    I have been to performances sung by Kathleen Battle and Grace Bumbry and the theater had hundreds of black audience members. These black audience members are not present when the same repertoire is being sung just as well by white lead singers. That is racism.

    • I’ve seen that. Chinatown emptied the first time Lang Lang came, and when Dudamel made his debut in our precincts, we discovered the Latin American community was larger than previously thought.

      But that’s just human nature — you should have seen the spontaneous parade one year when Italy won the World Cup, and another when Brazil won some important semi.

      • Thank you for supporting brave Dante who in your eyes deserves a “well done” for jumping off the fence and accusing black people of racism. Is the next step suing them in court for not showing up? Please keep providing examples of black racism, since you apparently are unaware of the white kind.

        • “since you apparently are unaware of the white kind.”

          As my ancestry is entirely black, I can assure you that I am.

          I am also aware that black people can also be racist. Maybe it manifests itself in different ways, but I can assure you that it is alive and well.

    • So, Dante, you go to all performances and count the color of the audience faces so you can accuse them of reverse racism? But you obviously haven’t done this for a while, if the long-absent Bumbry and Battle are the only two black singers you know of.

      • Larry D – I never said I went to all performances. I have gone to enough performances, though, for the past 40 years to speak about generalities of the audiences. The fact that Bumbry and Battle are long absent does not mean that what I wrote about the audiences on those occasions is untrue.

  • American political correctness seen to be doing something to address ethnic and other minorities, and yet no mention of the inequality in the financial treatment of the lifeblood of the opera company – namely the chorus and the orchestra.

  • Gelb is doing everything wrong. Every PR move that he decides to do is the wrong step at the wrong time. There has been so many examples since March and so many examples before. The funny thing is that he almost seems proud with his decisions. He sees pressure in the media due to the New Year’s Eve performance of scab Viennese group and acts quickly to change public opinion in his favor. However, this doesn’t fix a thing; his hard working employees are starving. People are leaving, retiring, looking for jobs at institutions that respect them. Every comment on the Met social media is supporting the employees. It is time for the board to get rid of this man and bring sanity, creativity and future to this institution

    • Gelb was wrong for the job in the first place. He was a documentary camera jockey and held a drool rag for Horowitz because no one else at CAMI in management wanted to do it. (Can you imagine dealing with Horowitz’s personal issues and moreover Wanda, it took someone without a spine to deal with those two.) His time at Sony was undistinguished and he was shown the door with the merger. His time at the MET has been undistinguished. Think about it, he’s an uneducated man who couldn’t make his way through college and quit. He now manages singers, musicians and staff who are all more educated than he is. He’s not a businessman, his decisions have been rotten. He’s not an arts administrator, his decisions by and large have been rotten. He hasn’t paid his orchestra, chorus, or stage hands. When they eventually reopen, can you imagine what the new orchestra and chorus will sound like? He now hires a new position which is entirely unnecessary at surely a big salary to get her to leave a Dean of Students job at Harvard Law School. Utterly tone deaf and unnecessary. Time to show Gelb the door. It is a perfect time to do it and turn a page with new thoughtful and business savvy leadership.

  • Whatever the merits/dismerits of this Mr Lebrecht, you have yet again blown your dog whistle, and the mouth frothing racist dogs have come running.
    Tomorrow is Holocaust Memorial Day.

  • She’s very close to retirement age isn’t she? Seems just a bit suspicious that she’s leaving Harvard all of a sudden. And I for one am just tired of this woke bandwagon. We kill ourselves time and again by being PC. Hire the best based on TALENT alone. Nothing else!!! Why does everything have to be represented equally? If you’re talented enough you should get the gig. Period.

  • I’m starting to think there’s not much difference between Norman and Rush Limbaugh, both inclined to feed outrage to an army of trolls who say “ditto” first, think later.

    Rush was awarded by Trump with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his, um, “services.” Is a “Sir Norman” in the cards?

      • Thank you, Mr. Lebrecht, for calling out Peter Gelb when necessary. It is devastating to witness the Met’s demise, drip by drip.

        My heart goes out to the hundreds of superb musicians and other artists who have been dismissed as (clearly) non-essential.

        Peter has always acted without conscience. The pandemic has just accelerated the decline that was already in motion.

      • You seem to mistake visiting your site for approval. Another motive could be to watch for which barrel you are willing to scrape the bottom of.

        • “You seem to mistake visiting your site for approval.” I’m impressed that you can read minds.
          Can’t you argue with any kind of rationality?

      • I will say that when I first saw the post I thought “oh my, the comments will be off the charts,” and they do not disappoint.

  • Creating a new executive position at a time when easily more than half of total employees, 400-500 people, have been furloughed for 10 months with no clear return date is disgraceful.

  • “But Mr. Gelb said that the company hopes to receive assistance for diversity-related costs from foundations.”

    • Diversity-related costs OF WHAT? The Met is there to produce MUSIC. It is nit a source of employment for “the diversity sector.”

      • That’s where you’re quite predictably wrong.

        Achievement, education, merit, hard work and talent are coming to a screeching halt in the name of supposed diversity and equity which are Leftist “dog whistles”.

        Filling a predetermined group of racial slots is all this amounts to. It’s deplorably superficial and intellectually vapid.

        That’s ALL this is about, not being the best at anything.

  • Those of us who have volunteered to work in non-profits understand that there is insurmountable pressure to adopt activist policies promoting diversity, inclusion and the focus on wokeness. It is the evolution of charitable giving in America especially on the institutional level. Having these efforts so prominently in place may simply be required to exist in the non-profit world as it is today. Whether it is appropriate for the actual mission is not relevant. What may not have been disclosed is that major grantors require this to continue to be eligible to submit applications. In smaller organizations such a position may actually be paid for by a grant earmarked for these purposes. Funds are no longer fungible at non-profits. Irrespective of the actual mission (and ethical obligations to those already employed), one needs to hew to those who grant the grant money.

  • This is a wise move to get the Federal Government’s millions as well as those of big tech. Quite sensible.

    • …or blatantly opportunistic. Either way, the Met is desperate for cash. For adherence to its legal mandate, not so much.

  • The hire seems optimistic, given that no one knows if opera companies will ever return to pre-COVID status, or whether opera companies might have to become virtual companies. Hate to be a downer, but things are not looking good for live opera and concerts.

  • Diversity? Yesterday at the LA City Council zoom meeting, our new Hispanic councilman Kevin de Leon forgot the words to the Pledge of Allegiance!

    • My issue with so-called ‘diversity’ is MOST of these new immigrants still pledge allegiance to their home countries! America to them is just a ticket for jobs, free healthcare and education. Nevermind the Melting Pot.

      • The “melting pot” is America’s heritage and we are proud of it. It is who we are, it is what defines us, renews us, and gives us strength. I, nor anyone I know, actually, cannot claim to not having had immigrant ancestors.

        I am grateful to those ancestors who paved the way for me. It is my privilege to now welcome newcomers to my country and to give them encouragement. We carry it forward.

        • I have an idea to please everyone. Ditch the welfare state. Only people who want to work will come which is the way it should be.

  • I couldn’t make this up if I tried —
    “news release: LA Chamber Orchestra Partners with NYC’s Kaufman Music Center’s Luna Lab to Present 8 World Premieres by Teenage Female-Identifying, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming Composers”

  • Look at all these white-supremacists! It’s like a Klan meeting in this comment section. Thank goodness Slipped Disc represents the past of the arts and not their future.

    • Look at this big girls blouse who can’t cope with anyone who expresses views that are different from his / her own and brands anyone who has the temerity to do so a racist. I should stick to wearing the Yasser Arafat scarf, getting down on one knee and screaming BLM and socialism are the way forward. Oh dear, let us all pray for this persons personal salvation…………he says with a muted chuckle!

  • >