In August 2020, the board of Opera Idaho voted to publicly sign the following statement and to incorporate this into our policies and practices as an organization.

Boise Arts, Culture & History Anti-Racism Statement & Action Steps

Our Coalition of arts, culture and history organizations is committed to dismantling systemic racism in our community. This includes the oppressive impacts of segregation, mass incarceration, and educational, economic and environmental discrimination; all of which are born from slavery. The arts and culture community has perpetuated white supremacy through appropriation and tokenization, such as recruiting Black people for shows, exhibits and performances without integrating them into positions of sustained leadership. Although there has never been a time in America when Black art wasn’t a driving cultural force, we have used a white lens to define quality and influence. Our histories have also been written through the white lens, discounting and ignoring facts and stories of Black Americans. We must do better.

We believe Idahoans will benefit from holding each other accountable to create an equitable and inclusive community where Black art and Black history matters.

Coalition organizations commit to the following:

  • Include members of the Black community in the creation of programming and content. Support the Black community with access to space and resources for independent projects or programs.
  • Prioritize intentional recruitment and hiring practices of Black staff, leadership and board members by investing time and/or resources to expand recruitment outside existing networks.
  • Create anti-racist policies within governing and management documents, at board and staff levels.
  • Articulate the necessity of cultivating a deeper understanding of the communities that we serve, and incorporate their perspectives, needs, feedback, and priorities into our strategic decisions.
  • Provide time and resources on an annual basis for board and staff to attend ongoing professional, Black-led anti-racism training.
  • Commit to the ongoing practice of anti-racism as individuals and organizations by fostering a culture of accountability and receptivity to learning.

By making our commitment to anti-racism visible through our programs and organizational practices, our Coalition aims to inspire audience members and donors to grow with us in creating a community where Black lives truly matter.

Co-Signatories

(as of 6:20pm 9/9/20)

Organizations (alphabetically):

Afrosonics
Boise All-Ages Movement Project
Boise Philharmonic 
Daisy’s Madhouse Theatre
Gem State Developmental Center
HomeGrown Theatre
Idaho Botanical Garden
Idaho Dance Theatre
KIN
LED
Metamorphosis Performing Arts Studio, LLC
MING Studios
Opera Idaho
Pivot Movement
Preservation Idaho
Project Flux
Radio Boise (KRBX 89.9/93.5FM)
Story Story Night
Stronger Shines the Light Inside
Sun Blood Stories
Surel’s Place
Treefort Music Fest
The Vervain Collective
Visual Arts Collective
Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

Individual Artist & Historians (alphabetically):

Wendy Blickenstaff Art – visual artist

Leta Harris Neustaedter – musician, actor, arts educator & social worker 

Laura Kendall – arts executive

Heidi Kraay – playwright, writer, theater maker & teaching artist

Catherine Kyle – poet

Thomas Newby – musician

Daniel Ojeda – dancer, musician & choreographer

Dylan Eller, Cody Goin, Daniel Ojeda, Grant Olsen, and Jan Reed of the band Mr. Grant Olsen – musicians

Brett Perry – dancer & farmer

Jodeen Revere – writer, actor & performer

John Michael Schert – dancer, producer, educator & social entrepreneur

Martha Spiva – dancer

Samantha Silva – writer

The discussions to-date were generously funded by The Morrison Center. The Boise City Department of Arts & History has given a grant to continue the Coalition work into the fall. 

Leta Harris Neustaedter, actress, writer, singer and therapist, and John Michael Schert, entrepeneur, co-founder of the Trey McIntyre Project and executive director of Treefort Music Fest, visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the statement, who’s on the list (and who isn’t) and why the action steps specifically refer to the Black community. Their talk is available on the Boise State Public Radio website. 

Opera Idaho is a member of Opera America. You may read their Black Lives Matter statement below.