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Software Engineer Asked About Diversity During Fundraising Call
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An Essay on the Seattle Symphony on Representation

I got a call Thursday from the Seattle Symphony. It's their annual fund drive and I've been donating every year for several years now. I like the symphony, unapologetically and lavishly, even though it's a little fusty and I get that classical music is a niche interest, closer to polo than anything else in the zeitgeist. People assume I must've been forced to play the violin when I was younger but no my parents weren't those kind of immigrants. I started listening to public classical radio as a kid and have been hooked ever since. Even when I went through a late 90s punk phase and shaved my hair, I still spun Varese in the evenings. So I'm a lifelong fan. And back when I was fresh out of college and struggling to pay off my student loans and trying make it in a new city, I could get a third tier seat for $14.00 and experience world class art for an evening and forget about my problems. The symphony has had my loyalty ever since.


I wasn't feeling well when the fundraiser called. I was sick and in a bad mood. She gave me the usual spiel about how donations keep the lights on and they do lots of community outreach and I was ready to give my usual amount when I decided to be a bit combative and ask, "So does this outreach affect communities of color at all? Who gets access to this work?" And I said this expecting a boiler plate #AllCommunitiesMatter-style answer which really means "rich kids in Ballard get the symphony brought to them." and I would have sighed and that would've been that.


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