The Peabody Institute’s commitment to Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was regalvanized and its work in this area centralized with the 2020 formation of the Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Steering Committee. The Committee has organized its work around a strategic framework focused on five key areas: Vision and Strategy; Program and Curriculum; Policy and Practice; Climate and Community; and Resources and Funding. Highlights of our work in each area, including both new initiatives and ongoing programs established before the Steering Committee’s formation, are detailed here.

Vision & Strategy

  • With the support of Dr. Katrina Caldwell and the Johns Hopkins Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), Peabody’s ADEI Steering Committee has begun drafting an ADEI vision statement and a comprehensive strategic plan for Peabody’s ADEI efforts.
  • The Steering Committee has begun a process of identifying ADEI consultants and trainers to inform best practices, provide needed expertise, and help to build internal capacity.
  • In April 2022, “The Next Normal: IDEAs for the Future of the Performing Arts”  – a national symposium convened online by the Peabody Institute – will examine inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism in the performing arts industry. This builds on our 2021 event, “The Next Normal: Arts Innovation and Resilience in a Post-COVID World.
  • In April 2022, Peabody opened a search for its first-ever dedicated DEI leader in the position of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, following up on a key recommendation from our 2021 bias survey.
  • Dean Fred Bronstein’s public statements about diversity at Peabody and in the field of classical music include a 2020 letter to the editor of The New York Times and Opinion pieces published in the Baltimore Sun in 2016 and 2019. His June 5, 2020, letter to the Peabody community set the stage for the work of the Steering Committee.
  • Between 2016 and 2018, the Peabody Diversity Pathway Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff, students, and alumni, laid the foundation for our ongoing work in this area.

The Next Normal: Arts Innovation and Resilience in a Post-COVID World

The Next Normal explored, in a series of panel discussions, the urgent need for all involved in the performing arts to diversify our administrations, performing rosters, board members, audiences, and more.

Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

Dean Fred Bronstein responds in a letter to the editor about The New York Times article “Make Orchestras More Diverse? End Blind Auditions.”

Program & Curriculum

  • By engaging every Conservatory student in meaningful training experiences and developing skills in communication, programming, connecting to community, and citizen artistry, the Breakthrough Curriculum in Performing Arts Leadership has significant implications for diversity and inclusion both at Peabody and in the performing arts field. This new model recognizes that the ability to connect with ever-broader and more diverse audiences is critical to the future of our art, and equips students with the foundational skills to do so.
  • The Culturally Responsive Curriculum Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, is developing a strategic plan for curricular revision. Its goal is to build a conservatory curriculum that enables students to experience, discuss, and perform music that is broad, diverse, and both culturally and socially relevant.
  • An intentional focus on increasing diversity on Peabody’s stages has resulted in memorable performances by guest artists including the American Spiritual Ensemble (2020) and conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya (2019), master classes with Christian McBride (2019), and a special screening of the documentary film RAW Tuba: From Sandtown to Symphony (2019). A 2018 Peabody performance of Leonard Bernstein’s singular MASS at Baltimore’s New Psalmist Baptist Church convened more than 500 performers, including Conservatory and Preparatory students and community partners such as the Morgan State University Choir. In the fall of 2020, the Conservatory Ensembles program began intentional inclusion of composers of color and other BIPOC voices.
  • The Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways (BWMP) collaborative initiative seeks to diversify the landscape of the American classical music field, and unites the Peabody Institute and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with other affiliated partners in working jointly to improve pathways for student musicians from historically underrepresented communities. Administered at Peabody through the Preparatory, the BWMP recruited ten students into its inaugural cohort for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Through music, mentorship, and social inclusion, the Peabody Preparatory’s Tuned-In program offers talented and motivated middle and high school students an intense, tuition-free course of study that can lead to college and career opportunities. Growing from six students when it was established in 2007 to nearly 100 this year, Tuned-In empowers young people and widens their world through music.
  • Through Peabody’s Junior Bach program, launched in 2006, Conservatory student composers offer composition lessons and mentorship to 6th- through 8th-graders at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, an all-boys school, and the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. The middle-schoolers develop their musical ideas during weekly after-school lessons, culminating in a concert premiering their works on Peabody’s campus each semester.
  • According to Baltimore Magazine, “The tuition-free program at the Estelle Dennis/Peabody Dance Training Program for Boys has changed the lives of the boys involved.” In 2009, as a way to attract boys to the Dance program, Peabody established a scholarship program to encourage families in Baltimore who couldn’t afford the training. Many of the program’s alumni have gone on to dance company training programs or received scholarships to college dance programs.
  • The Peabody Community Chorus, established in 2016, has a twofold mission: to be a welcome place for singers of all backgrounds and to provide a service to the community through collaborative performances. A recent performance saw the Community Chorus partner with the Arundel Vocal Arts Society for two performances of the “Street Requiem,” to honor the deaths of homeless individuals.
  • During the 2019-20 year, Peabody hosted two interns from the Bloomberg Diversity Internship program, a paid program for Baltimore City high school students which offers exposure to careers and workplace culture, promotes mentoring, and fosters personal responsibility. Peabody has participated in this program since 2017.

Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways

Peabody Institute, Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra, DC Youth Orchestra Program, and Levine Music partner for new initiative.

Estelle Dennis/Peabody Dance Training Program for Boys

The Baltimore Magazine wrote about the tuition-free dance program that "has changed the lives of the boys involved.”

Policy & Practice

  • DEI training for Peabody faculty, staff, and students has included implicit bias, micro-aggression, and intercultural competency training. The Steering Committee is working to put forth recommendations for a more comprehensive, regular, and impactful training program for all members of the campus community.
  • Focused recruitment efforts, partnerships with pre-college training programs serving students of color, and new scholarship programs are beginning to bring a more diverse pool of applicants to the Conservatory, and increase diversity among the student body. In fall 2021, the number of BIPOC Conservatory students has grown to 123 students, which is 17% of the total student body and more than double the number of BIPOC students in 2015.
  • The Johns Hopkins University launched the Faculty Diversity Initiative (FDI) in November 2015 to locate, attract, and retain the best and most talented faculty, representing a broad diversity of backgrounds, thought, and experiences. The Peabody Institute’s Divisional Action Plan outlines Peabody’s strategies to achieve faculty diversity goals. The 2021-22 academic year sees the most diverse campus community in Peabody’s history, with 15% of the faculty being BIPOC individuals, up from 6.5% five years ago. 

Climate & Community

  • A commitment to community dialogue on ADEI issues has resulted in the establishment of Peabody’s Community Conversations series coordinated and facilitated by the Steering Committee. The series began in the fall of 2020 with two Community Conversation Starter webinars with diversity leaders at JHU, followed by two community listening sessions. Action steps and feedback from community dialogue are made public.
  • The Office of Student Affairs facilitates a variety of programming and engagement opportunities focused on strengthening cultural awareness, increasing knowledge around diversity and inclusion topics with the goal of fostering a climate of respect across the Institute. Spotlight programs in fall 2020 included celebrating National Coming Out Day, facilitating a critical dialogue around the Latinx community, recognizing indigenous peoples, and hosting speakers central to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • The Student Affairs office also provides support and resources for student organizations including the Peabody Black Student Union and La Obra, the Latinx Student Union.
  • An Anti-Racism Accomplices Teams site allows for informal, open community dialogue and resource sharing among faculty, staff, and students.
  • A bias survey was undertaken in Spring 2021, under the direction of the Johns Hopkins University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with implementation of resulting recommendations under way.
  • What began as an informal group of black alumni hosting events for students and alumni has evolved into Peabody’s Society of Black Alumni. The goal of the group is to build relationships and help current students by providing performance opportunities, networking and career related support, and mentoring.

Resources & Funding

  • The Peabody Institute Diversity Fund was established with the goal to create learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming. Gifts to the Diversity Fund provide the Institute with important funding to support initiatives that reach talented students of color regardless of socio-economic background and opportunity. Dean Bronstein has committed to doubling the size of the Diversity Fund, launched with a generous gift from Rheda Becker and Bob Meyerhoff, to reach $1.2 million by 2022.
  • The fall 2020 entering class includes the second cohort of Peabody students to benefit from Michael Bloomberg’s historic gift supporting scholarships at JHU, which allows Peabody, for the first time, to offer need-based funding. As a result, Peabody has been able to meet on average 82 percent of demonstrated financial need for students whose families’ incomes are below $100,000, helping to improve access to a Peabody education among those who otherwise might not have been able to enroll.
  • Johns Hopkins University Trustee William H. Miller III made an extraordinary $1.25 million gift to Tuned-In in 2020, strengthening the future of this important program and, by extension, the future of classical music and performing arts.
  • In January 2020, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Peabody a multi-year grant of $1 million to support Peabody’s role in the inaugural Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways(BWMP) collaborative initiative.
  • The Steering Committee is working towards a goal of incorporating funding dedicated to ADEI in the institute’s operational budget for FY22 and beyond.
  • Departmental Diversity Development Grants offer academic departments grant funding to support diversity and inclusion activities such as visits to campus by guest lecturers, presenters, or performers.

Read more and stay up to date about Peabody’s ADEI efforts, and the work of its faculty, students, and alumni, through the Peabody Post and in Peabody Magazine.