Last year, the Board of PFS adopted a statement on Racial Equity, as follows:
Portland FolkMusic Society celebrates all musical traditions whose foundations flow from communities and cultures of color.
We recognize that we are an overwhelmingly white organization. We hope to become a more inclusive and diverse organization by taking the following steps:
- We ask that if any member or volunteer detects racism or biases in our structures, processes, publicity or activities, they will speak up and bring this to the attention of PFS.
- We will include more artists of color in our performances.
- We will reach out to our local communities of color for inclusion.
- We will report annually to our membership how we are doing on these goals.
We invite comments and engagement from PFS members. We look forward to the essential, ongoing work of listening, learning, and changing that is ahead of us.
This document is the promised annual report on our progress towards these goals.
During 2021, we have worked more vigorously than in the past to hire musicians of color and have had a good representation of black singers at our online Singtime and fAll Song events, and we have a Latinx group scheduled as part of our live concert series. We are pleased that our performers have been mostly local artists as this provides an entree into a musical world here in the PNW that we are just getting to know.
However, we realize that the first step is the easiest one, and paying black people to entertain white people is not revolutionary. While it helps us achieve our goal of supporting musicians of color, we know we must do the hard work of dismantling the attitudes and practices that keep PFS almost all-white, so that at present decisions about equity are made by people who are privileged by the present structures. To our knowledge, there has been no increase in BIPOC membership at PFS.
To advance our broader goals, we kicked off the fAll Song Festival with a discussion on inclusion and diversity led by a panel of four singers of diverse demographics. It contains ideas and suggestions from the participants that will be useful as we move forward.
We look forward to the serious work that lies ahead, and strongly invite the participation and good ideas of the PFS membership.
President, for the PFS Board of Directors
Would you like to comment on diversity and inclusion at PFS? Send your thoughts and suggestions to Secretary@PortlandFolkMusic.org. With your permission, we'll publish your remarks here. Thanks!