Composers Lead Convening of Artists, Administrators, and Advocates to Discuss Racially Inclusive and Equitable Opportunities

The American Composers Forum today announces the 2019 Racial Equity and Inclusion Forum, a convening of artists, administrators, and advocates to discuss racially inclusive and equitable opportunities for creative musicians happening September 7, 2019 in Saint Paul, MN. Artists and artistic leaders participating in the panels include members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Patrick Castillo, Brent Michael Davids, Gabriela Lena Frank, PaviElle French, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Anne LeBaron, Garrett McQueen, Nicole Mitchell, Reinaldo Moya, Nirmala Rajasekar, and Dameun Strange. The forum is free and open to the public, but due to space limitations, RSVP’s are strongly encouraged. A livestream of the forum will be simultaneously available on the TPT website and ACF Facebook page.

American Composers Forum is a vibrant composer advocacy organization supporting thousands of creative artists annually across the country. Over its 40-year history, ACF has expanded from a Minnesota focus to national, and from classical concert composition to a spectrum of genres, envisioning its role as a connector for composers/creative musicians and the larger ecosystem. ACF President and CEO Vanessa Rose states, “We see an opportunity to affect the DEI conversations happening by giving a platform to the living creators of music. As storytellers, change agents, and creative individuals, artists provide unique and valuable perspectives on this issue. We hope this gathering will provide both ACF with critical feedback, ideas, and discoveries and our colleagues in the arts ecosystem seeking to make meaningful progress towards racial equity.”

Diversity and equity consultant Justin Laing has been engaged to work with ACF over the course of the year, including facilitating and consulting on this convening. Recognizing the continued dominance of white, European-based, music in the ecosystem we share, the goal of this convening is to encourage discussion and tangible action items; three specific areas will be the focus of conversation:

  • Inclusive programming and the context of presenting the music of non-white artists
  • The process of seeking out and engaging non-white composers/creative musicians
  • Refreshing the selection criteria to represent relevance and impact

Supported by a generous investment from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, this forum offers valuable feedback for ACF as the organization endeavors a strategic assessment and plan forward in its own inclusive and equitable programming. In addition, ACF hopes this provides an opportunity for them and their peer organizations to collaborate and be accountable as they seek to achieve greater racial equity and inclusion for creative artists.

American Composers Forum 2019 Racial Equity and Inclusion Forum
Friday, September 6, 2019 at 7:30pm
Kick-Off Event: Performance by the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble
The Cedar Cultural Center | 416 Cedar Ave | Minneapolis, MN

Co-Presented by American Composers Forum, Schubert Club, and The Cedar Cultural Center
Tickets: $15 in advance. $20 at the door.

Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 8:30pm-4:30pm
Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) | 172 E Fourth Street | Saint Paul, MN 55101

Tickets: Free and open to the public, due to space limitations, RSVP’s are strongly encouraged.

● 8:30 – ​Welcome: Vanessa Rose, ACF President & CEO

 ● 9:00-10:30 – ​The AACM then and now Moderator:​ Janis Lane-Ewart (KBEM Jazz88.5FM & ACF Board) Panel: ​Ernest Dawkins*, Amina Claudine Myers,* Mankwe Ndosi,* Taalib-din Ziyad*

● 11:00-12:30 – ​Inclusive Programming ​ : ​Opportunities, Obstacles, Integration with Artistic Vision Moderator: ​Patrick Castillo* (Hotel Elefant) Panel:​ Delta David Gier (South Dakota Symphony Orchestra), David Hamilton (The Cedar Cultural Center), Jonathan Bailey Holland,* Garrett McQueen (MPR Classical), Reinaldo Moya,* Dameun Strange*  

● 2:00-3:30 – ​Seeking ​ ​Artists: Recruitment, Selection Process, Criteria for Relevance and Impact Moderator:​ Anne Gotte (Ecolab) Panel: ​Brent Michael Davids*, Gabriela Lena Frank,*  PaviElle French*, Mary Kouyoumdjian* (New Music Gathering), Eleanor Savage (Jerome Foundation), Laura Zabel (Springboard for the Arts) 

● 3:45pm – ​Learning from Creative Artists: Our Call to Action Speakers: ​Justin Laing (Facilitator & Consultant) and Vanessa Rose 

● 4:25pm –​ Closing: Anne LeBaron, ACF Board Chair

● 4:30pm – ​Wine Reception

*Composer/Creative Artist

About American Composers Forum (ACF)

The American Composers Forum (ACF) enriches lives by nurturing the creative spirit of composers and communities. Through commissions, grants, mentorships, performances, publications, residencies, and hosted gatherings, we provide innovative opportunities for composers and their music to flourish, and we link communities and composers through creation, connection, and engagement. ACF facilitates an ecosystem that reflects the diversity of our world, and we partner with a variety of creative musicians and organizations to develop the next generation of music creators, performers, and advocates.

Founded in 1973 as the Minnesota Composers Forum, ACF now reaches composers and communities in all fifty states and helps composers engage communities with music as a source of inspiration, self reflection, and delight. This engagement takes the form of groundbreaking composer residencies, designed to engage communities in the creative process and broaden the contexts in which new music is written, performed, and heard. It means innovative approaches to teaching music while nurturing the next generation of composers, performers, and audiences. ACF’s community includes composers and performers, presenters and organizations that share ACF’s goals, and individuals and institutions with an interest in supporting new music. Members come from both urban and rural areas; they work in virtually every musical genre, including orchestral and chamber music, world music, opera and music theater, jazz and improvisational music, electronic and electroacoustic music, and sound art. Visit for more information.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit