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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
This thread seems predicated on the complaint that the ETO has ceased to make merit its priority. This would assume that merit was always the priority in the past, and that any resulting lack of diversity was entirely coincidental. Maybe that was the case, maybe it wasn't. But if we're going to subject ETO's new policy to such scrutiny, it may be worthwhile to consider their old one.
The ETO's 'old position' has been considered in as far as it was swiftly concluded to be wrong. But it's not about that - it's about a sensible policy going forward and the ETO's isn't.

And given that the quantity of quality musicians is probably a nil-sum-game, perhaps we should divert talented musicians of colour away from their chosen musical genres and get them into classical performances. For the avoidance of doubt, I'm using irony to illustrate the absurdity of the sort of measures the ETO is implementing.
 

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Sibelius, Beethoven, Satie, Debussy
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Perhaps we should wait and see what the impact is on the quality of performance before judging the effect of the policy.

The process for determining who should be engaged has been only sketchily described and possibly premature conclusions drawn by those writing about the matter.

If it turns out that the ETO has breached employment law, then I hope that those "employees" who have suffered get due recompense.
 

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For some strange reason many people seem to think that "inverse discrimination" is not as problematic as traditional racism (edit: even if it is far less bad than whatever we mean with "traditional racism" it can still be quite bad). Would this journalist have been bothered at all if the majority of a basketball or sprint relay team had been black (i.e. way over proportion of the population)? If she had, we would probably have called her (correctly) out as racist.
I fear that we are well on our way to crank up tensions in our societies to unprecedented levels by the bizarre idea of overcompensation for perceived historic "sins" (two injustices in different directions do not make one good) or totally disproportional regard for "diversity" in favor of merit or common sense.

When I read the title I thought that this would be about production not about hiring/firing. 25 years ago we had jokes like "A smoke free Carmen" in the then young internet. Few people expected then the serious, debilititating turn so-called "PC" etc. would take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Perhaps we should wait and see what the impact is on the quality of performance before judging the effect of the policy.
No, I think we have a duty not to just stand by - on balance, the impact it will have is rather obvious.

The process for determining who should be engaged has been only sketchily described and possibly premature conclusions drawn by those writing about the matter.
It's very clear as to what the criteria to be applied are - a person's race, sex, gender, marital status and any other of the protected characteristics set out in the Equalities Act 2010 (it's the only way to effect such a measure)

If it turns out that the ETO has breached employment law, then I hope that those "employees" who have suffered get due recompense.
It's not just 'employment law', the Equalities Act covers all aspects of wider society. And whether the musicians are 'employees' is neither here nor there - they enjoy the protection of discrimination and health and safety statutes and I would say the ETO's action may be breach thereof and as such is actionable.

But let's not get too technical about this, the detrimental effect such measures will have on classic music, the musicians, the fans etc is obvious.
 
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
The ETO refers to guidance from the Arts Council. I'm on my mobile phone so reading large documents isn't easy, but someone might like to take a peek at what's on their website.

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/guidance-and-resources/culture-change-toolkit#section-1
It's all standard fare, a common or garden diversity in recruitment and appointments toolkit.

The ETO Boss' reference to it is immaterial - his letter as published in Lebrecht's magazine stands on its own two feet.
 
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Firing people because they don't fit the favored skin color is disgusting. However, I also think it likely that the Touring Opera made sure to fire those that it didn't really want around.
 

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Why would you assume that the minority musicians would not be just as qualified?
That's not my assumption. I do believe in the idea of the most qualified person getting the job but that doesn't mean that I disagree with the concept of diversity. I'm all for diversity but not at the expense of ability.
 
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That's not my assumption. I do believe in the idea of the most qualified person getting the job but that doesn't mean that I disagree with the concept of diversity. I'm all for diversity but not at the expense of ability.
This is my point of view too. I am shocked by ETO's new policy - we have a friend who plays with them and, yes, he's white, but so what? ETO could reasonably make people re-audition and then, other things being equal, accept people who'll boost their diversity quotient, but musical ability should remain the prime consideration, in my opinion.

How can we have trust in any organisation, musical or not, if they don't prioritise skill and ability in the chosen field?
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
An attempt at greater diversity will have a detrimental effect? That doesn't seem quite so obvious to me.
Depends on the nature of the attempt. This one will.
 

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An attempt at greater diversity will have a detrimental effect? That doesn't seem quite so obvious to me.
Nor me

That's not my assumption. I do believe in the idea of the most qualified person getting the job but that doesn't mean that I disagree with the concept of diversity. I'm all for diversity but not at the expense of ability.
I'm also not clear that it is their policy to go for diversity at the expense of quality. What do we know about the characteristics of those who have not been reengaged?
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
It will remain unclear to you while you entertain 'straw-man' arguments.

I'm also not clear that it is their policy to go for diversity at the expense of quality. What do we know about the characteristics of those who have not been reengaged?
Read the letter. They are being fired because they do not fit the diverse criteria and must make way for those that do. This means that they will be wholly or mainly white people, otherwise this action would not be implemented.
 

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Following a recent round of auditions, we are looking forward to welcoming 12 new artists to our freelance orchestra for our spring 2022 tour. This summer we held auditions led by our new Music Director Gerry Cornelius, Artistic Associate Holly Mathieson, and other panellists and were deeply impressed with the quality of musicianship on display.
https://englishtouringopera.org.uk/news/new-orchestral-artists
 

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... They are being fired because they do not fit the diverse criteria and must make way for those that do. This means that they will be wholly or mainly white people, otherwise this action would not be implemented.
As I read it, the orchestra was 100% white.

I have some degree of empathy with both sides of the argument, but not with the means the ETO seem to have employed to achieve their goals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
So it's actually happening - the ETO have terminated the services of musicians on the grounds that their personal characteristics do not fit a diverse set of characteristics and have hired new people on the basis that they do, in line with the ETO Director's recent letter. Shocking.

It might be acceptable, albeit a bit brutal, to have terminated the musicians for the reason of competency or 'artistic fit', and replaced them with 'better' musicians, but to have done so due to the musicians' race, religion/belief, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment &cetera is abominable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I have some degree of empathy with both sides of the argument, but not with the means the ETO seem to have employed to achieve their goals.
There is no argument. No-one disagrees with having diverse and demographically representative orchestras.
 

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Were these new musicians demonstrably better than the musicians they replaced? That's a question to which I would be interested in hearing the answer.
I'd like to know too. If the ETO runs a reputable orchestra, it would seem unlikely that they would throw that reputation away by recruiting poor quality musicians, no matter how ill-advised their recruitment process. I guess it remains to be seen.
 
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