Lyric's commitment to IDEA values

April 12, 2021 Quarterly Update

Lyric Opera of Chicago has established four core areas that represent and describe our work in IDEA. These core areas or pillars are: Leadership, Artistic, Culture, and Communication & Engagement. 

As you visit the statement below that outlines Lyric Opera of Chicago’s commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, we offer our first update on recent actions, which encompasses the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

The purpose of this quarterly summary is to show progress and change, over time, in our commitment to IDEA. Moving forward, updates will be published in the month following the most recently completed quarter.

  • During the fourth quarter of 2020, Lyric moved our IDEA goals from commitments to an action plan, with a member of our senior leadership team assigned to oversee each core area.  

  • The action plan was reviewed and approved by Lyric’s board-level IDEA Steering Committee, led by co-chairs Jane Pigott and Eric Smith. It was subsequently shared with Lyric’s IDEA Working Group, composed of a cross-company team of employees, and with the full administrative staff at a meeting in January. 

  • At Lyric’s December 2020 Board of Directors meeting, led by chair Sylvia Neil, a new action plan was rolled out for the work of the Nominating Committee to focus on areas of diversity and inclusion. IDEA commitments were added to the Board of Directors recruitment materials and used to recruit three new members, all elected to the Board in February: Francesca Cornelli, Karen Freeman-Wilson, and Michael Strautmanis.

  • We have expanded our Ryan Opera Center training program to include three new paid positions. These are new professional areas of concentration that offer advanced training tracks for conductors, stage managers, and directors, as we recognize the importance of creating a pipeline for historically underrepresented artists. The first new training program for conductor/pianist was announced in March 2021. The program for stage management and director will be open and accepting candidates for the Ryan Opera Center ensemble for 2022.

  • Our paid internship program, which was funded and developed in 2019 and meant to open in 2020 (delayed due to the pandemic), is on track for launch in 2021. This will create opportunities for young people for whom salary is essential, helping us to provide training for a new generation of arts leaders.

  • We have developed policies and instituted procedures around supplier diversity. More information is available here.

  • A full Board demographic review is in process, led by Nominating Committee member Amy Carbone. Two surveys were deployed to Lyric’s Board of Directors in February, to provide self-reported baseline information and inform future board recruitment. 

  • In the area of artistic programming, in addition to having changed Lyric's 2021/22 Season to include the important new work Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, we have committed to next steps on the new opera that Lyric workshopped in December 2020, The Factotum. More on that new work is available here.

  • We created a mechanism for anonymous feedback so that the staff may have a safe place to share concerns and thoughts, in addition to the existing channels that have already been in place.

  • We have increased our points of internal communication, including monthly administrative staff meetings, twice monthly general director “office hours” that are available for group discussion

  • We held an IDEA-focused open forum and discussion session on February 10 where our staff were able to express their feelings about issues of DEI at the company. Feedback has been positive.

  • We have publicly listed every available position, and added additional listing sites to our external job recruitment tactics in an effort to increase applicant diversity.

  • By the end of 2021, 100% of Lyric’s full-time administrative staff and designated part-time staff will have attended anti-racism training.

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