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Article Published: 01 Jul 2020

Opera Conference 2020: Making Change Panel

The final conference session was a panel discussion on Making Change, which addressed issues of systemic racism and inequity. Here are some of the panelists’ remarks.

Quodesia Johnson
Education and Company Culture Manager, The Dallas Opera

Our practices are part of the problem, because many of them are rooted in cultural norms of white supremacy, and of the right to comfort, of exclusion, of power hoarding. It is not enough for us to just adopt new business practices and fold them into what we’re already doing. We must purge ourselves of the traditions and the harmful biases that rob us of opportunity.

Tracy Wilson
Director of Community Engagement and Education, Cincinnati Opera

If you feel, as a Caucasian person in your organization, there are some injustices happening, don‘t be afraid to step up and speak out. Call people out if they‘re not doing or saying the right thing. Be fearless, and be okay with speaking up.

Derrell Acon
Director of Engagement and Equity, Long Beach Opera

There need to be more Black people at the top in leadership positions. There are so many operas that are being produced right now on Black subjects, and yet there are no Black artistic directors at any major opera companies. There’s one Black general director. And it’s not okay. Whose stories are being told the most frequently, and who is around the production table?

This article was published in the Summer 2020 issue of Opera America Magazine.