We commit to a continued effort to be a part of and serve all facets of our community in the Midlands
The South Carolina Philharmonic is deeply committed to building and maintaining a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) through partnerships with our musicians, staff, audience members, and volunteer leadership. We denounce racism and racial injustice.
In February 2020, we completed a strategic plan for the organization to systematically improve the socio-economic, gender, ethnic, special needs, and age diversity of our Board, musicians and staff to reflect the diversity of the community we serve. As part of this plan, Executive Director Rhonda Hunsinger joined the Diversity Leaders Initiative of the Riley Institute at Furman - a program that helps community leaders better understand the diversity and inclusion shortfalls within their organizations. Upon completion of the program, Rhonda will be equipped with focused decision-making skills and a deeper knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients, and constituents.
The SC Philharmonic's strategic plan includes staff and Board educational sessions with other organizations who are doing meaningful EDI work in our community; creating an EDI committee comprised of Board and Advisory Council members; establishing annual goals for engaging a more diverse cross-section of our community for Board service, with a priority of having an inclusive Board that embraces all ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, ages and genders; and building an audience that reflects our community. While our commitment to EDI is ongoing, we acknowledge that we have struggled to move as quickly as we should to align practices with our beliefs. The strategic plan is propelling this shortfall into action.
The SC Philharmonic is a member of the League of American Orchestras (LAO) - an organization that is committed to elevating the principals of EDI as the highest priority in the orchestra field. Members of the SCP staff, orchestra, and Board are actively engaged in opportunities through the LAO to participate in forums for training, discussion, and reflection and use its resources and tools to facilitate change and continuous learning.
Community Outreach and Inclusion
While the SC Philharmonic is perhaps best known for its performances of live symphonic music on stage, members of our orchestra and staff work closely with local partners to develop inclusive educational outreach programs to fill the needs of our community.
With the unrest of social injustice and the pandemic, the SC Philharmonic saw an opportunity to support the wellbeing of our community’s mental health through "InTune," a mindfulness exercise collaborating our music with a guided meditation by psychiatrist Dr. Frank Clark. We also partnered with senior care centers to present video concerts by our musicians to individuals who are unable to leave their care facilities. Another virtual program, "From Our Homes to Yours," was launched to provide a broader audience with a series of on-line concerts available for free, along with releases of archival audio releases of the full orchestra. While virtual concert events will continue to be created throughout the pandemic, free musical offerings will become a permanent part of the SC Philharmonic's commitment to making symphonic music accessible to everyone.
Under the leadership of Music Director Morihiko Nakahara, the SC Philharmonic has developed programs to reach underserved communities and will continue to do so when musical gatherings and education programs are safe again. "Conduct the Phil" concerts, where the audience members conduct the orchestra, have been presented extensively throughout the Midlands, not only in public spaces like festivals, farmers markets, and the SC State Fair but for members of our community that otherwise might never have the chance to experience live symphonic music. These include interactive concert events at Transitions Homeless Center, Epworth Children's Home, the SC Department of Juvenile Justice, and Babcock Center.
The SC Philharmonic also presents "Healing Harmonies" concerts throughout the hospitals and campuses of the Prisma Health System, at underserved eldercare facilities and at the Dorn VA Medical Center - providing soothing and uplifting music to patients, families and staff alike.
Our orchestra actively seeks partnerships that enable children and adults of all ages to experience live symphonic music. These include educational programming for public school children throughout the Midlands, and actively working with Title 1 schools to ensure that every student has a chance to hear live music.
We are currently developing a sensory-sensitive concert series for neurodiverse members of our community. The concerts will allow children and adults who are unable to normally attend concert events with their families to enter a safe and welcoming environment where clapping, movement and vocalization are accepted and embraced.
For more than a year, the SC Philharmonic has actively worked on the current strategic plan, with the goals of equity, diversity and inclusion being at the top of our prioritized goals. The creation of our EDI program is the first step to changing our organizational culture so that every aspect of our work embraces inclusion and the values of EDI.