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We can do better – A letter to our community

Dear Friends and Community Members,

GTCYS sees and shares the community’s pain in mourning George Floyd. We are outraged by the senseless and callous murder of George Floyd which is yet another sign of the persistent and systemic racism that exists here in the Twin Cities and across our nation. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by racial inequalities and those who have been directly impacted by the civil unrest.

GTCYS believes that Black lives matter.

We believe in equitable opportunities and justice. We see the humanity of Black people and recognize the valuable and long-standing contributions they have made in society and to the arts. We acknowledge the deep oppression that the Black community and people of color have experienced due to systemic racism.

GTCYS acknowledges that we are complicit and have not done enough to lift up our Black neighbors and people of color.

Beliefs are not enough. Seeing and acknowledging are not enough.

GTCYS can and will do better.

Building on our existing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work started in 2016 – in tandem with our ongoing commitment to increasing access – we will partner with the community to:

  • Listen and learn from additional and ongoing sessions with GTCYS families and communities of color
  • Provide first-time students of color with instruments and scholarships for private lessons
  • Expand our Harmony strings instruction program and support students as they advance through GTCYS’ orchestras
  • Create a student council so young voices from different backgrounds across the Twin Cities are represented
  • Augment repertoire choices and programming to lift up more composers and artists of color
  • Expand the racial diversity of our board of directors, conductors, and staff
  • Learn from anti-racism training and continued EDI work
  • Revamp our student policies and scholarship process so inclusion is at the forefront 
  • Prioritize the equity, diversity, and inclusion goals in our strategic plan to ensure that equity is a lens for all of our actions

We invite your input as we strive to create a more equitable and inclusive community through our work with young people. What would you like to see? What should we do differently? Please email me at megen@gtcys.org or call me at 651-602-6802.

This moment is an opportunity for a movement. We are ready to do all we can to eliminate systems that have stripped Black people of their rights, power, and opportunity – and to create true and lasting equity and inclusion. We hope you will partner with us on the journey.

Thank you,

Megen Balda
Executive Director

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