Cabrillo Festival’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Cabrillo Festival is actively working to advance our commitment to DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) by examining our practices and policies, addressing bias at individual and institutional levels, and increasing opportunities for participation and collaboration with artists, staff, board, and audiences of all cultural origins, abilities, and orientations. This page will serve as a place to report on our work to date, next steps we intend to take, and resources we are finding helpful. The work is ongoing, organic, and conversational, and we intend to maintain transparency and accountability as it evolves. We welcome your questions and thoughts, please feel free to contact us at any time.

A STRATEGIC APPROACH: DEIB built into Cabrillo Festival’s Strategic Plan

  • In 2019, Festival board and staff engaged in a rigorous process to create a Strategic Framework to guide the Festival’s work ahead. In the resulting framework, we committed to advance DEIB as one of four priorities key to advancing our top priority to “Nurture Artistic Vision.”

Strategic Priorities

  • In 2020, as Covid-19 required us to cancel our live season, we re-engaged board and staff around a Scenario Planning process, and maintained DEIB as a priority. Our “DEIB Lens” became an informal term and concept we used to evaluate each and every programmatic decision we faced in creating our two subsequent Virtual Seasons.
  • In 2021, as we determined challenges and opportunities around returning to a live concert season in 2022, we kept our commitment to advancing our DEIB work, even as we cut other programs in the interest of conserving staff and board capacity.


The following list is an active, growing matrix of Festival commitments and actions around DEIB. The intent of this tracking is for transparency and accountability, not self-congratulation. Developing this list helps us understand that big, lasting systems change can, and should, be achieved incrementally.


  • Author and educator Donna Walker-Kuhne engaged to conduct a DEIB training workshop for Festival board and staff, including visioning for the future and recommendations for immediate action.
  • DEIB Working Goals drafted, with the understanding that the work is ongoing and evolving.
  • Resulting FY22 commitments include:
    • Continue to seek and partner with artists and composers representing a broad spectrum of origins, abilities, and orientations.
    • Continue to develop programmatic opportunities to deepen connection and understanding between artists and audiences.
    • Commit to an ongoing shared learning process specific to DEIB subjects, with time dedicated in monthly board meetings to discuss advance materials.
    • Recruit 2-3 new board members by 2023, prioritizing members who expand representation of our broader community demographics.
    • Continue to examine our orchestra recruitment process, and use DEIB Lens when seeking new players to fill open positions.
    • Understand that a diverse orchestra will have diverse needs, work toward identifying those needs, to create an open culture that builds a sense of welcome and inclusion beyond the moment of hire.
    • Use our DEIB Lens when writing marketing and development copy, formulating job descriptions and in hiring processes. Ask tough questions of each other: Where are our internal biases showing up? How can we change our language and requirements to remove barriers to participation?
    • Draft, and implement use of, the following Land Acknowledgement statement:
      “The Cabrillo Festival takes place on the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”


  • Equity Lens continued and increased in hiring artists and content producers, and in development of programs for our second virtual season.
  • Staff and board engaged in conversations around presenting programs with subject matter that might challenge or alienate our “core” audience. We determined to take risks, in alignment with our top Strategic Priority to “Nurture Artistic Vision,” and to live up to the tagline of presenting “music of our times, for our times.”
  • Closed captioning added to virtual programs.
  • Pronouns included in artist bios, in staff email signatures, and Zoom call IDs.


  • DEIB is made one of five Supporting Priorities of new Strategic Framework
  • Covid pandemic cancels live season, and while all capacity was devoted to pivoting to virtual programs, an “Equity Lens” was used in hiring artists and producers, and in development of 2020 season.
  • Worked with composer Stacy Garrop to support her in shifting the narrative of her commissioned work The Battle for the Ballot to be inclusive of Black suffragist voices and imagery, and less focused on Susan B. Anthony.

2019 and prior:

  • Wynton Marsalis and Cristi Măcelaru In Conversation event raises topics of racism and belonging in music and cultural contexts.
  • Festival engaged Oakland-based youth group Ever Forward to attend rehearsals, concert, and have private meeting with composer in residence Wynton Marsalis.
  • Festival Orchestra Manager attended Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions to engage with more diverse musicians, and raise awareness of Festival with prospective orchestra musicians.
  • A new and continuing partnership with The Humanities Institute at UCSC increases educational offerings and community events, addressing important subjects around voting rights, and racial and gender equity and inclusion.
  • Sign language interpreter included for season programs/Evelyn Glennie events.
  • 2018: inaugural pay-what-you-can Community Night concert removed barriers to participation and welcomed the entire community into the new music experience, repeated in 2019 and paused only due to Covid.
  • Starting in 2017, Music Director Cristian Măcelaru and Executive Director Ellen Primack began tracking numbers of women and BIPOC composers, with the goal of planning balanced artistic programs.
  • During Music Director Marin Alsop’s tenure (1991-2016), Festival increased number of female musicians, composers, and conductors engaged—in a typically male-dominated orchestra field.
  • Hundreds of local performing artists representing dozens of diverse cultural traditions are given access to 10,000+ audiences at the annual two-day Church Street Fair.

How can we help you?

More results...

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors