Antonio C. Cuyler

Published On


Page Range

pp. 81–90


  • English

Print Length

10 pages

4. Until George Floyd

An Afrofuturist Perspective on the Future of Classical Music and Opera

The previous chapter advanced discourses about practical solutions to classical music’s exclusion problem relative to women, neurodiverse, and cultural workers from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In Moving Beyond @operaisracist: Exploring Blacktivism as a Pathway to Antiracism and Creative Justice in Opera and (Un)Silencing Blacktivism in Opera: A Conversation about the Letter to the Opera Field from Black Administrators, I document how the Black Opera Alliance and Black Administrators of Opera have compelled opera companies to sign a pledge for racial equity as the first step towards racial justice in classical music post George Floyd’s state-sanctioned murder in May of 2020. The pledge compels opera companies to (1) hire Black artists, (2) require staff, orchestra members, and independent contractors to reflect the racial demographics of our most diverse communities, (3) program and prioritize works by Black composers, (4) hire more Black creatives and production personnel, (5) require that visual artists undergo training in successfully preparing Black artists for the stage, (6) review the organisation’s hiring practices and policies for racism, (7) review the board’s recruitment culture, (7) and include within the company’s official code of conduct a commitment to anti-racism, and anti- oppression. Furthermore, the Black Administrators of Opera suggested that opera companies (1) commit to equity in salaries and promotion opportunities, (2) commit to company-wide racial equity education and professional development, (3) commit to equitable hiring and recruitment practices, (4) commit to company-wide intentional inclusion in the execution of mission and programs, and (5) commit to adequately funding company diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and working groups.


Antonio C. Cuyler

Professor of Music in Entrepreneurship & Leadership in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) at University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

Antonio C. Cuyler (he/him/his) is Professor of Music in Entrepreneurship & Leadership in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cultural Organizations: Insights from the Careers of Executive Opera Managers of Color in the U. S., editor of Arts Management, Cultural Policy, & the African Diaspora, and author or co-author of 25 peer reviewed articles that appear in the American Journal of Arts Management, Cultural Management: Science and Education, Cultural Trends, ENCACT Journal of Cultural Management & Policy, GIA Reader, Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Journal, International Journal of Arts Management, International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Journal of Arts Management, Journal for Cultural Research, Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, and the Polish Journal of Management Studies. Most recently, he co-authored the League of American Orchestras report Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field in 2023. He also founded Cuyler Consulting, LLC, a Black-owned arts consultancy that partners with cultural organizations to maximize their performance and community relevance through access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI).