New Paths to Inclusion, Access, and Equity

One of the most promising aspects of our 2018-2020 Strategic Plan is our push to expand the “we” in “Together We Sing!”  We’re doing this by advancing inclusion, access, and equity in our organization. 

We’re lucky enough to live in a diverse community where people of all ages and backgrounds are passionate about music. By building and nurturing creative connections with as many different voices as we can reach, we can serve our community while remaining relevant as an organization.  

Diversity, inclusion, and equity expert Beth Zemsky is now leading VocalEssence through this crucial project. She’s worked with many prominent philanthropic and arts organizations, including the Bush Foundation, Minnesota Children’s Theatre, Twin Cities United Way, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Over the next 18 months, she’ll guide VocalEssence through the process of Intercultural Organizational Development. As a first step, the staff has completed an assessment tool called the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), which provides insights into individual and group levels of intercultural competence. We’re now in the process of developing action learning plans based on individual results. Our board will soon engage in a similar process, so that across our entire organization, we’ll become more proficient in interacting with cultural commonality and difference.

Beth will also lead a series of learning seminars, action learning projects geared towards shifting some of our organizational practices, and provide coaching and support to manifest our learning in all our interactions.

Reaching farther for new voices has led us into senior centers, where we sing with older adults. It’s connected us with our youngest listeners ever, as families with small children find us in parks and museums. And it motivated us to identify and eliminate logistical barriers that kept high school students from the enriching experience of singing in a choir that performs in public. Aligning our overall strategic development with our inclusion, access, and equity goals will increase our effectiveness in recruitment, multicultural collaboration, and serving the diverse needs of our communities.