A Statement from the Board of the American Viola Society

We, the board of the American Viola Society, share in the collective sadness and anger over the barbaric murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. These events illuminate the daily transgressions and tragedies that fellow Black citizens have long endured. Black friends and colleagues have long campaigned against a four hundred year tradition of oppression, bias, neglect, and indifference that seeks to stifle artistic, intellectual, economic, and social aspirations. We also recognize that the challenges posed to the Black community come with a tremendous cost to the broader community, denying all of us the richness of Black imaginations, skills, wisdoms, and histories.

The American Viola Society joins in demanding an end to the oppressive treatment of Black citizens. We commit to actively and strategically pursuing anti-racist practices, continuously listening, holding dialogue, and working collaboratively with our Black colleagues toward new possibilities for our organization and our world. The AVS is proud to join the many arts organizations nationally and internationally in making a commitment to celebrate Black lives.

The American Viola Society strives to encourage excellence in viola performance, pedagogy, research, composition, and lutherie. However, this excellence can only be achieved when all members of a community “acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.” (BlackLivesMatter) For too long have Black people—along with Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color—been called upon to work against the tide of systems steeped in white privilege. We acknowledge that our organization has been complicit in our neglect to address these systems. Moving forward, we commit to thoughtfully examine the role of white privilege in our history as an organization and to dismantle the structures that perpetuate this privilege.

The leadership of the American Viola Society now commits to the work of deliberate structural change. In doing so, we have identified several initiatives to make space for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color. The following immediate actions will be expanded upon with further policies and procedures enacted in coming months.

We must not stop until every one of us breathes freely. Black Lives Matter.