Host: Greg Simon (@gregsimonmusic)

Any discussion of “relevance” and new music has to begin with this: How does the audience find us? Can they afford us? Do they come equipped to listen? What’s our responsibility – in programming, performing, teaching, and composing – when it comes to making new music accessible to new listeners and new communities? This chat will discuss how performers, composers, and teachers can and should use their resources to help others gain access to new music.

Here are a few stats to keep in mind as we discuss accessibility of concert music:

In 2002, the Knight Foundation ID’d 13.2% of potential C.M. listeners as “out of reach” of professional classical music. In the same study, 9.2% of U.S. adults were described as “least interested” in classical music… and of that group, less than half had higher than a high school education. The same study found that the most racially demographic was the “aspiring classical enthusiasts” – a group which makes up 3.4% of U.S. adults, and of which 53% was nonwhite. Of the 10 demos the study used, this group was most likely to cite things like transport/childcare as factors in attending concerts.

Switching gears now to the education side of the accessibility discussion: A 2014 LAO study found that student participants in orchestra education/community engagement programs were 62% white. In a 1998 study, only 25% of 8th graders reported singing or playing an instrument once a week. A 2012 study from the DOE found an inverse correlation between the availability of public school music programs and the number of students receiving free/reduced lunch. Finally, in 2015, a sociologist at Cornell reported that among performing arts majors at U.S. colleges median family income was just above $94,000. The same report showed that students from lower-income families were less likely to choose liberal arts majors of any kind.

So when we tackle the topic of “accessibility” later tonight for #musochat, we’re not talking in the sonic/aesthetic sense, but in the more pragmatic sense of accessibility to hear, experience, and make the music at all.


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