The Dallas Symphony Orchestra working to attract a diverse audience

The orchestra is committed to inclusivity and bringing the world of classical music to more diverse audiences
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra working to attract a diverse audience
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Elzafon

When considering the arts, many within the Black community rarely think of the nation’s orchestras or how many classically trained Black musicians there are. While many of the nation’s orchestras remain primarily White and struggle with diversity among musicians and their target audience, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is working to address the lack of diversity and racial disparities that have existed for decades.

The DSO currently has a superb summer series designed around increasing diversity. Rolling out had the opportunity to attend BLKBOK’s Mixtapes X Counterpoint Tour and speak with Kim Burgan, vice president of sales and marketing of the DSO, on their continued efforts and how they bring diversity to their concerts and program offerings.

How is DSO utilizing its platform to expand its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?

This summer, we took a step back and looked at how we could bring unique variations of classical music to the hall. We’ve got a classical string quartet, we had BLKBOK tonight, which was amazing, we’ve got some jazz performers doing cross-over rock-pop music, and we try to bring in a diversity of music and a diversity of the audience. Every act we took this summer was really about how we bring a different audience to experience this hall.

With the work done and the investment DSO has made, are your efforts working, and are you seeing more diversified audiences?

Absolutely. What I find most interesting is that when you come to a concert, you see all age groups, all ethnicities, from little kids to grandparents, it doesn’t matter, and that has been the most interesting piece of it. You also see people dressed in shorts and t-shirts and people dressed to the nines, and the goal is that everybody feels welcome in this hall no matter who you are or where you come from in life; you get to come here and experience world classical music.

What learning opportunities have you identified while expanding your diversity efforts?

Depending on who the act is or what the concert’s content is, it’s really about understanding where to reach the audience. As we’re branching out into new media partnerships, it’s important to know who the right media partners are and which ones are reaching the broadest audiences for us and exposing what’s happening.

What can audiences expect in the coming months?

We have quite a few things coming up. We’ve got Veronica Swift, a jazz singer, cross-over artist, and a woman by the name of Lucia Micarelli. She’s a violin cross-over artist who plays really classical violin, but then she can flip and play hard rock violin. The thing I’m most looking forward to is that we have the Ray Chew orchestra, and they’re doing a Stevie Wonder sing-a-long.

To learn more about the DSO and its programs, visit their website at and can be found on social media at @dallassymphony.

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