May 20, 2021

NWS receives 2021 Catalyst Fund Grant

New World Symphony on stage

The League of American Orchestras has awarded a $19,500 grant to New World Symphony to strengthen our understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and to help transform organizational culture. Given to just 25 orchestras nationwide, the one-year grants comprise the final round of The Catalyst Fund, the League’s three-year, $2.1 million grant-making program, made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation. NWS is one of only six orchestras to receive this grant all three years.

Click here to read NWS's commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“American orchestras have made a strong commitment to embrace equity, diversity and inclusion and reverse decades of inequity on-stage and off—an imperative made even more urgent by the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color,” said Simon Woods, the League’s President and CEO. “This is a long-term journey, but it starts with taking immediate action and creating organizational momentum. We’re grateful for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s long-standing support for the orchestral field, and for the strategic vision that has allowed this group of orchestras to model what change looks like for our entire field through their Catalyst Fund grants.”

The Catalyst Fund has made a strong impact on the field, with several orchestras receiving multiple grants over three years to sustain their work. Since its launch in 2019, 76 Catalyst Fund grants were awarded to 49 orchestras of all sizes and types, each demonstrating a strong commitment and dedication to EDI work and an increased awareness that systemic change requires a sustained effort over time. More than 80% of first-year grantees reported making either policy or programming changes as a result of their funded work, with most engaging board and musicians alongside staff.

EDI practitioners are central to The Catalyst Fund grant program, helping orchestras implement a range of organizational development activities involving musicians, staff, board and, in some cases, volunteers and community leaders. These include anti-bias trainings, institutional audits, the creation of formal EDI plans and work to build consensus and integrate EDI into mission statements and culture. Community building is also a key component of the program; The Catalyst Fund Learning Cohort, made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, enables past and present grantees to interact with colleagues through remote and (pre-pandemic) in-person convenings, peer learning and a dedicated web-based forum. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of EDI experts and practitioners in the arts and orchestral fields.

NAAS Audition Intensive
National Alliance for Audition Support: 2019 Audition Intensive hosted by NWS

The Catalyst Fund is informed by earlier dialogue and research. A major national convening co-hosted by the League and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December 2015 was catalytic in launching national task forces and annual convenings to engage orchestras in EDI efforts. Two important League studies, Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field, and Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras' Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians, further served to inform and stimulate action. In April 2018 the League launched, in partnership with The Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony, the National Alliance for Audition Support, a national initiative that offers Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation and audition travel stipends. Additional information on these programs and other EDI activity, including the League’s guide, Making the Case for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Orchestras, its EDI Strategic Framework, and articles, webinars and other materials, is available from the League’s online EDI Resource Center.

2021 Catalyst Fund Grant Recipients

Adrian Symphony Orchestra (MI)
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Berkeley Symphony (CA)
BRAVO Youth Orchestras (OR)
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (NC)
Chicago Sinfonietta (IL)
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (IL)
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (OH)
Contemporary Youth Orchestra (OH)
Grant Park Music Festival (IL)
Kennett Symphony (PA)
Lexington Philharmonic (KY)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (CA)
Los Angeles Philharmonic (CA)
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (WI)
New Haven Symphony Orchestra (CT)
New World Symphony (FL)
New York Philharmonic
North Carolina Symphony
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PA)
Princeton Symphony Orchestra (NJ)
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (MO)
San Diego Symphony Orchestra (CA)
San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (CA)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra

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