Arts group apologises for funding ‘white, Eurocentric’ symphony orchestra

Arts group apologises for funding ‘white, Eurocentric’ symphony orchestra


norman lebrecht

April 26, 2021

The Arts & Science Council of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the city’s main arts funding body with an endowment of close to $40 million.

The group says it won’t be funding white cultyre any more: ‘ASC has been complicit in upholding funding practices that elevate certain cultures, creative traditions, identities and art forms above others,’ it laments.

Report here.


  • Herbie G says:

    Stark staring bonkers. No more need be said.

  • Curvy Honk Glove says:

    Isn’t this the fundamental transformation for which the Americans voted? The yanks are well on their way to de-funding their local constabularies, so I guess the next groups to go should be the orchestras based on their pigmentation. I don’t understand the logic, but it seems like a solid plan nonetheless. I’m eager to see how this turns out.

    • MacroV says:

      Evidently you are not familiar with the concept of local, state, and federal jurisdiction as is practiced in the United States. This is the decision of a local organization, in a state that voted for Trump (though Charlotte voted for Biden).

      The report makes a very fair point: Most of the organization’s money has over the years gone to support institutions that are comprised of white performers/creators and for a white audience. So they’re trying to do something about that; surely you are not going to suggest that non-white people can’t produce good music and other artistic works?

      Though I’d rather see the organization provide funding to the symphony or opera to do something contemporary that is reflective of what Charlotte’s diverse, modern community can produce.

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    The base salary of musicians in the Charlotte Symphony is just over $29,000 per year, less than half the median household income in Charlotte and barely 10% of the amount Ms. Terrell’s predecessor was paid. That doesn’t sound like “white supremacy” to me.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      The “white supremacy” part is that it takes eighty to hundred people playing acoustically – all of whom want to be paid – as opposed to a few people with microphones and amplifiers. There’s also the overhead of the administration and support staff. Traditionally, London orchestras have been able to survive because they keep all that stuff relatively low (overhead, that is).

  • She sounds like a FOX News caricature of a “black leader”

    I will be curious to hear what the replacement funding choices will be.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Well, I don’t know what to make of this.
    I’m always for sponsorship, private or otherwise, of classically oriented – meaning Western classical – performing groups.
    I am also totally and passionately pro-sponsorship of performing groups run by, or offering performances of, artistic works of non-white and/or non-western cultures.
    Pretty much of a no-brainer, right?
    But why does the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte, North Carolina apologize for having done good things in the past? All it needs to do is make sure its sponsorship is more diversified in the future and publicize its new direction.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I would like to apologize for the shaky sentence structure in the third paragraph of my comment.
    But I’m sure everyone will get my point.

  • Dave says:

    Ever think back on periods of mass hysteria throughout history? Ever wonder how rational people could have let them happen? We’re going through such a period right now. This is how they happen.

    • Bone says:

      I look forward to seeing “News of the Woke” every day. Such exciting and unpredictable times we are living in!

      • Gus says:

        You will not want to miss this news spotted today – no hope for America.

        Stop Press: Sullivan Israel, a civil engineering student at the University of California, shared a campus tale with the College Fix which related to a debate put on by his college’s Republican group. His story serves as a reminder that soap dispensers are considered by some to be a form of systemic racism.

        What comes to mind when you hear the term systemic racism? Perhaps Jim Crow-era laws or banks’ redlining policies?

        Well, I’ve got a new one you can add to the list: soap dispensers.

        Yes, you read that correctly. According to a recent online debate on ‘systemic racism’ put on by the Bruin Republicans that I attended, soap dispensers are proof that white people are systemically racist against black people, according to some of my peers.

        But it’s not just any dispensers, mind you. It’s those high-tech automatic ones. The reason is simple. As one UCLA student claimed during the debate, automatic soap dispensers “don’t see her hands” due to the dark pigment of her skin. As another student reiterated, soap dispensers are racist because they force “black and brown bodies” to show their palms – “the only light areas of the skin” – in order to get soap out.

        I’m not joking.

    • BrianB says:

      Yup. From the Salem witch trials to Mao’s Red Guards and the cultural revolution. And now this insanity. Far worse than a few Jesse Helms type conservatives protesting NEA funding over piss Christ, etc. This anti Western arts hysteria will truly extinguish the arts in America.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The report appears to ‘acknowledge’ that, for instance, classical music and a symphony orchestra ‘is not for blacks’. Instead of tackling the problem of accessibility and information, it attacks the art form and its medium. With the best of intentions, that report is deeply racist.

    • V.Lind says:

      Too right. Not exactly in the spirit of Martin Luther King, who spoke of the contents of one’s character, not the colour of their skin. Are we to assume that the members of this orchestra or of bad character for playing Beethoven and Mahler and Aaron Copeland?

      • Bone says:

        Pretty much correct: if you play or listen to music written by a white guy performed by white guys on instruments designed by white guys…you are racist.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          It’s only a euphemism for “you have it; I want it”.

        • Ashu says:

          [music written by a white guy performed by white guys on instruments designed by white guys]

          They certainly were not designed by white guys, though white guys did ingeniously improve the designs in their own corner of the world in recent times.

      • BrianB says:

        Agreed. But it’s Copland. 😉

    • CA says:

      I totally agree with you.

    • BrianB says:

      Just like asserting that math is somehow racist. Katherine Johnson is spinning in her grave.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The Pythagoras theorem is two terrible things: it’s invented by a white Greek so it’s white suprematist and racist, and it was invented by a man so: deeply mysoginist. Why didn’t a woman invent it? There were enough around!


        • Ashu says:

          [The Pythagoras theorem is two terrible things: it’s invented by a white Greek so it’s white suprematist and racist, and it was invented by a man so: deeply mysoginist.]

          It was demonstrably discovered in India centuries before Pythagoras – but yes, probably by a man there too, since gender inequality was more or less equally general in the ancient world.

    • John Borstlap says:


      These things sometimes also happen in Europe. Recently, the Gergiev Festival was cancelled because the city council of Rotterdam withdrew its funding. Reason? A big political party in the city council, representing the many immigrants in town and their descendents, said that the festival’s culture was not for them, so why should their tax money be spent on it? The same thing: classical music is not for ethnically-challenged people, it is a white elitist pastime for the white happy few. The argumentation is so stupid, you don’t know where to begin to unravel it, but the result is that such idiots get their way.

      • Ashu says:

        [The argumentation is so stupid, you don’t know where to begin to unravel it, but the result is that such idiots get their way.]

        What do your brown friends think about it?

  • Giustizia O. Sire says:

    It is the CULTURAL EQUITY REPORT 2020, a handsome PDF with all the latest jargon, profiling and tools of argument, here:

    It uses the phrase “people of color” but prefers the newer term ALAANA because this lists the ethnicities instead of simply opposing them to “white,” which it argues is the wrong approach: African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American.

    ASC’s president and her report must be taken seriously because she is a 19-year veteran of the council and it reflects progress on a “cultural equity plan” dating back to 1991-1996.

    The question of course is, what happens when the yearly budget is spread as she wishes, away from the white arts to, for instance, Dances of India or the Gantt Center for African-American Arts? The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and Opera Carolina are supposed to shrink accordingly given that their value and claim are no greater.

    Charlotte metro area is roughly the USA’s 20th largest, equal to Saint Louis or Baltimore or Orlando or Portland or San Antonio, and has grown 20% in population in ten years.

    • Elizabeth Owen says:

      The winner of best Director Oscar was described yesterday as the first person of colour to win. I’m sure she would hate that, as she is Chinese. All my Asian family and friends, Indian and Japan hate it too. Why not say black or brown if it has to be referred to at all? Silly political correctness, white is a colour so we are all persons of colour.

      • Herbie G says:

        Elizabeth, you have a problem. You are bringing common sense, logic and reasonableness into an area that is dominated by numbskull wannabes.

        • Giustizia O. Sire says:

          They are not numbskull wannabes. They have the power of the purse, or a direct bearing on it, and are making a broad argument that cannot be rebutted with qualitative assertions alone.

          This entrenched movement now forms with CoVID a “double whammy” against the performing arts we have known.

    • Tom says:

      I guess Asian, for the purposes of the ALAANA grouping, includes south and possibly west Asian. Whatever.

      Among the charts and graphs showing racial representation in the Cultural Equity Report 2020 one of the saddest facts is that in 2020 there were no, zero ASC staff members who identified as biracial, and among the Cultural Leadership Training Program participants since 2005 there was only one out of 445. All the other charts also had none who identified as biracial.

    • CA says:

      Let’s also not forget the increasing difficulty the ASC has been having in meeting its own annual fundraising goals, which in turn has had an effect on the amount of grant money it gives away. How convenient to emphasize grass roots organizations more, now, when one’s own funding has been declining.

    • John Borstlap says:

      When it comes to the arts and their funding, the ‘problem’ of cultural identity comes-in. How to support the arts in a multiculti society? What is the place of a culture of a minority within a territory of a cultural majority? Should a culture have local roots, or only abstract, symbolic roots?

      It is a typical problem of the West and the result of the Enlightenment…. Yes, the roots of the problem go quite deep, historically speaking.

      • JJC says:

        That problem cannot be solved and will only find multiple ways to fester. Keep government out of the funding and much is solved. What artist wishes to be a government drone anyway?

        • John Borstlap says:

          No, that is a different question. For art to flower independly of the pressures of money, so that it can be at its best for the common good, it should not be commercial, since market forces have nothing to do with artistic quality and meaning. In the European past, nations supported the arts as part of their cultural identity (by church and nobility and court). Since that did not always mean that the art was really free, in the 20th century the state took over the support role not to exert power but to ensure that culture, as an important component of the common good, could florish. And this also created serious problems. There is no ideal solution for art to be free, it is a problem that has not as yet been solved. The American way of supporting art has its own problems.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I thought Latinx was something you purchased at your local ‘marital aids’ store.

  • Adrienne says:

    To avoid accusations of inconsistency and hypocrisy, perhaps other products of ‘white, Western, Eurocentric organizations’, such as science and engineering, should be re-evaluated as well?

    • Bone says:

      You must not be keeping track: those areas area absolutely under scrutiny. Ol’ Isaac Newton himself is on the verge of being cancelled!!!

      • Tribonian says:

        If something has been created by Europeans and the woke like it, then it’s universal. Scientific method, antibiotics, engineering etc. Nobody wants a diversity hire surgeon to appear by their hospital bed.

        If the woke do not like it and want to destroy it, then it’s White when they talk about it. European art, literature, music etc.

        If White people agree that European art, literature, music etc is White, then they are elitist. They have to let non-Whites take part.

        If White people agree that art, literature and music created by people from elsewhere in the world is excellent, and wish to take part in it, they are guilty of cultural appropriation and are evil.

        If White people do not think that art, literature and music created by others is excellent, they are narrow minded bigots.

        • John Borstlap says:

          The irony is, that ALL cultures and ALL art is entirely accessible and understandable and enjoyable by anyone with the right attitude and interest. Cultures don’t have skin colour.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Correct. What next? Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Monteverdi….???

        The Thought Police with their truncheons are out, looking hard and waiting to send you to the Gulag.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is the hypocrisy of the woke movement: what is essential to survival is left untouched. Only historical figures are being dethroned since that cannot do much harm. But to cancel modern dentistry or maths or engineering would also damage wokeys.

    • PaulD says:

      To some in the United States, math is racist. You can’t make this stuff up.

    • Byrwec Ellison says:

      Interesting you should mention engineering because the nomenclature of “master” and “slave” in electrical circuits, switches and controllers is under reevaluation for that reason. The new suggested terminology is “controller” and “responder,” which actually makes more sense to an electrical engineer.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Where would it end? There may be people considering the system of plug and socket as sexist, and some other contraption has to be designed.

        The very word ‘Master’ if it comes under further scrutiny, may lead to the disappearance of master copies, the word may be prohibited like its descendants ‘masterly’ and the verb ‘mastering’. Hegel’s philosophy will be censored because of the sensitive chapters about ‘master and slave’. The label ‘His Master’s Voice’ will have to be renamed. Etc. etc.. the list is endless.

      • The View from America says:

        How about “giver” and “taker”? That seems to be an “undercurrent” of the entire debate (pun intended).

    • Ashu says:

      [To avoid accusations of inconsistency and hypocrisy, perhaps other products of ‘white, Western, Eurocentric organizations’, such as science and engineering, should be re-evaluated as well?]

      No need, since they were already extremely ancient when white people disovered them.

  • Sharon says:

    Every trend has its day and I suspect that this trend of demanding minority (however one defines it) representation in the arts will eventually fizzle out.

    Unfortunately like the “cultural deprivation” education theories of the nineteen sixties, worrying about representation in the arts acts as a foil or distracts from concerns about ECONOMIC, HEALTH and HOUSING inequality. Now, THOSE are serious equality issues.

  • CA says:

    So the ASC, then, is effectively admitting that it was wrong to fund (among other efforts) such important and popular programs as the symphony’s Project Harmony initiative, which is aimed specifically at underserved and at risk minority (am I allowed to use that word anymore?) youth, giving them access to instruments and lessons and even performance opportunities on the same concert stage as the symphony musicians. Well done, ASC. (Sarcasm). Obviously the ASC is in charge of who they support. It was their decision and theirs alone all along to distribute the grants. So, let’s just pull the funding from the artistic pillars of the community and then see what happens to our culture, which is already suffering for support to begin with. Truly unbelievable. Will be interesting to see who is chosen as the new ASC president.

  • Alank says:

    One cannot say “The barbarians are not at the gate” There is no gate.

    • John Borstlap says:

      They have always been inside, waiting for the moment to raise their voice. Barbarians are never only outside.

    • Curvy Honk Glove says:

      Barbarians?! Sounds pretty racist and defensive to me. Also, keep in mind that for the last four years here in the US, the pundits have been preaching that walls don’t work, so who would care about the “gate” anyway.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I share the general dismay but point out that nowhere in the report does the ASC say it will not fund those groups anymore; indeed, it claims that relations with those groups remain excellent (the groups in question might beg to differ…).

    Greg Bottini strikes the proper balance, in my opinion. The proof will be in how the funding is rebalanced, going forward.

  • Jamie Webb says:

    These people brim with hate and stink of arrogance. They must be reminded that they are stewards and not owners of these funds and the $40 million they are charged with distributing comes from donations and a tax base composed of people who mean for their money to support the arts. This includes the orchestra. They must also be reminded that White, Eurocentric contributions and achievements are largely responsible for our ability to fund arts in the first place.

    It is telling that this kind of ignorant and mean spiritedness invariably comes from minds ever so much smaller than those of the titans of our civilization they aim to denigrate. Beethoven will live on. The legacy of these people will die with them.

    Having been a member of an orchestra similar to this one, I am aware that availability of this funding is critical to regional orchestras’ existence. Let us hope that the elected officials to whom these people report take control of the madness and do what the larger community expects them to do. Otherwise this orchestra, along with so many other monuments to our culture, will be destroyed.

    • BrianB says:

      “Beethoven will live on. ”
      Not if they can help it.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s all – every bitof it – a consequence of deep envy and hatred. Wealth envy, class envy and profession/occupation envy. And these activists are so stupid they think we don’t know; I guess because there are so much gulls who are apologists.

  • SMH says:

    Krista Terrell is a pr/marketing person, so this report will definitely achieve quite a bit of notoriety, which I suppose is her intent.

    “Krista Terrell is a public relations practitioner with more than 20 years of experience in the arts and cultural sector. She is currently serving as the Acting President of the Arts & Science Council (ASC) – a local arts agency in Charlotte, NC.

    Krista has been with ASC for 19 years. Her recent role was Vice President of Marketing & Communications where she led PR and Marketing efforts ranging from branding, media relations and crisis communications to advocacy, digital strategy, and influencing for diversity, equity and inclusion.”

    “Krista earned her B.A. in Communications Arts (specializing in Public Relations) from Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU, and her APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) from PRSA.”

  • SMH says:

    Hmmm, the orgs that have received the most $$$ have the biggest budgets in Charlotte, I’m sure.

    Curious as to what the breakdown would be if you looked at the grants as a percentage of the overall budget for each org. Would BIPOC institutions have received a bigger % of their overall budget from the council? How long have some of the “neglected” BIPOC orgs been around?

    Also, I’m certain that both the symphony and ballet have robust education and diversity initiatives that are in part funded by Council grants. The report seems needlessly incendiary……

  • Andy says:

    Don’t individuals and organizations have to apply for funding?

    Doesn’t the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte have to review and approve applications before granting funds?

    It would be illuminating to look at a list of all applicants (and the amounts they requested) alongside all of the grants ultimately awarded.

  • Max Raimi says:

    We who play in American symphony orchestras are caught in a vice. The right wing hates us because we are unionized, and even worse, the unions have by and large been effective in providing us with a middle class life. The left hates us because we represent what to them is an imperialist colonial tradition, patronized by rich white people. So we search for music by people of color, and trumpet our “outreach” efforts, that in my experience are all too often one-off photo ops. Corporations love to fund these initiatives, and more than once I have seen the photos on corporate brochures.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      The Right, in general, doesn’t ‘hate’ anybody; they’re too busy raising families, practicing their faith, working and running small businesses. It’s the Left which does all the hating, so stop with the projections.

      • SMH says:

        The most delusional comment I’ve ever read on this blog, which is saying a great deal.

        • Hayne says:

          FBI, an arm of the Democrat Party against the right
          CIA, working with Democrat Party against the right
          Mainstream Media which is the Democrat Party

          Woke ideology which also means cancel culture

          Big tech censorship of much anti left views and
          censorship of scientific evidence on covid19.

          “Mostly peaceful” riots causing deaths and billions in destruction last summer

          Marxist education all the way down to elementary schools

          Yeah, Sue is delusional.

          Go back to NPR…

    • Bone says:

      Unions certainly have a purpose for jobs such as freelance musician.
      Whilst searching for BIPOC contributions, did the questions of value or merit come up? Or was it simply anything not written by white artists? Just curious.

    • JJC says:

      Max, we are only in a vice if we put ourselves there. No reason to do that! I doubt if the left or the right hates us much, after all, we have been largely ignored by all sides for decades. What we must resist is any attempt to redefine us, shame us or change who and what we are. We’re good, you and I know that, we have a precious legacy to defend and we must not be afraid to do it. Push back on ignorance, hard.

  • Fred Funk says:

    A lot of these people have a lack of intimacy with another person, outside of their day jobs. It’s that simple.

  • Eusebius says:

    Apologizing for white privilege seems to be the order of the day in America.

    • M2N2K says:

      Unfortunately, apologizing is no longer enough.

    • Bone says:

      Apologizing for being white seems to be closer to the truth…that and excusing any misbehavior by members of other ethnic groups in the name of Diversity and Equity.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It’s clear that one has to be very careful about in which family type one is born.

        • Alan P says:

          I told my medical students many times, “pick your parents carefully.” If only my mother had told the midwife to put me back.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Give us back our Strads, Steinways, Guarneri et al.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Bye Bye everyone.
    I’m moving to Mars with Elon Musk.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Even though I love GOOD symphony orchestras, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to reevaluate how funds are allocated – as long as those reallocated funds represent what the community truly wants. One plain fact is that symphony orchestras and opera companies soak up a lot of money in relation to the size of their audiences. In that sense, they ARE elitist. For one thing, ticket prices are too low. . . . . Don’t think so? Have you seen what it costs to catch bigger name pop/rock acts? How about a night out at a small night club to catch jazz people you’ve never heard of before (much the less the bigger names)? Classical music can be a bargain in comparison.

  • E Rand says:

    All those fist-raised, blm supporting “diversity and inclusion” drones in the arts are getting EXACTLY what they voted for. We should congratulate them.