In 2019, the CSO developed and adopted a ten-year strategic plan. At the core of this plan is a set of goals and objectives to further its existing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. In May 2020, the realities of systemic inequity, injustice and racism in America were once again brought to the forefront by the murder of George Floyd. In this landscape, the CSO is prioritizing and accelerating its DE&I work.

The CSO has developed and is implementing a DE&I Action Plan to focus and guide the organization. This Action Plan primarily addresses advancing the CSO’s work with Black communities, while acknowledging that it must simultaneously apply its learning to initiatives serving the entire community.

Summary of Action Steps

  1. Convene a standing Community Advisory Council to help CSO amplify and support important community initiatives. The Community Advisory Council (CAC) was launched in February 2021 and will help the CSO approach this work from an asset-based perspective, taking the lead from the community.
  2. Build a CSO staff structure that better supports and amplifies its DE&I goals. The CSO hired Harold Brown to be the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer (CDIO) in March 2021, and in January 2022, the CDIO position became the first-ever endowed administrative position at the CSO. The Community Engagement department has also expanded to better support DE&I goals.
  3. Implement cultural competency/implicit bias training for CSO staff, Board and Musicians. Beginning with all CSO staff, this will broaden to include all internal constituencies and all customer-facing employees. In addition, the full CSO staff, Board and Musicians have completed various trainings and participated in ethnographic research.
  4. Review all application, interviewing, hiring/contracting and compensation policies and practices within the CSO to ensure fairness and equity. Job descriptions, position requirements, application process, and employee performance reviews have been updated to meet DE&I goals. Additionally, the CSO has been Queen City Certified by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which examines gender and racial equity within organizations. 
  5. Evolve the CSO’s existing administrative internship program and create an ongoing mentorship program to develop future arts leaders of color. The internship program moved from unpaid to paid beginning in fall 2020 and is now endowed as the Andrew J. Brady Internship Program. The internship program will focus on underrepresented populations.
  6. Develop and deepen its relationships with underrepresented Cincinnati cultural institutions. Long-term partnerships planning is ongoing with National Underground Railroad Freedom Centerand the Urban League.
  7. Continue to amplify the work of BIPOC artists in all forward CSO, Pops and educational programming. In the 2019-2020 season, the CSO ranked No. 1 among peer orchestras for programming works from underrepresented populations. The 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons featured a significantly greater number of BIPOC guest artists and composers. 
  8. Form long-term partnerships with Black-led arts organizations to co-create new programs. The CSO has become an official lead partner in the Black Music Walk of Fame project.
  9. Reposition and reinvest in CSO’s Multicultural Awareness Council(MAC) programming, as MAC moves into its 31st season.
  10. Evaluate all existing CSO marketing, communications, philanthropic and digital/social media collateral through a DE&I lens. A content audit has been completed, and the implementation of DE&I considerations is underway.

Updated as of June 2022.