One of the inherent gifts 5BMF’s model grants is the natural charge to become more fully familiar and connected with the whole of New York City, a call that’s daunting, but also thrilling and deeply enriching. And while this charge is core to our identity, critical to our mission, and felt in our hearts, we recognize, as an organization, that we still have yet to fully meet and embrace this call.

While we have made conscious efforts to represent a diversity of voices, cultures, and communities in our programming, we have nonetheless fallen short: in accounting for our overall track record, and in embedding equitable actions throughout our work. Not enough has been done to counteract the tendency that the artists, partners, and communities who most naturally come to our attention are those whose backgrounds most resemble our own, and the accompanying instinct to stay within that comfort zone. As 5BMF’s new AD, this is as much an acknowledgement of my own habits and tendencies as it is an observation of the organization I’m coming into.

This instinct runs counterproductive to one of 5BMF’s central goals and challenges: to push against those common patterns of existence – the familiar corridors and neighborhoods we tend to stick to – that lead us to forget that the foremost privilege of living in New York City is the opportunity to be immersed in difference. In order to meet this challenge we need to deepen our ability to bring people of all backgrounds together, to embody the belief that we are all neighbors and that this city is our own huge, immensely beautiful neighborhood.

This summer, we’ll be sharing a comprehensive list of organizational goals, among them commitments to:

  • embed principles of inclusivity within our mission;
  • implement internal training in issues relating to systemic racism and equitable and inclusive practices;
  • adopt and actively engage in policies and practices to further represent the racial and gender demographics of New York City across 5BMF’s staff, board, artists, partners, volunteers, and venues;
  • feature and celebrate the artistic work of individuals identifying as Disabled, LGTBQ, Native American, Black, and People of Color.

These commitments proceed directly from our core values, our mission, the nature of our model, and our shared vision of what a concert series based on these foundations looks like. We are both humbled and inspired by the task at hand, and hope you’ll follow, support, and participate in its pursuit.

Michael Unterman
Artistic Director, 5BMF