Performing Arts at Maryland Statements On Justice For Black Lives

A message from the School of Music 

Fri, June 5, 2020


Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students, 

The School of Music community has been profoundly affected by the senseless killing of George Floyd, the latest in a long line of racially motivated acts of violence against African Americans. We condemn in the strongest possible terms such dehumanizing acts of aggression as well as the systemic and institutional racism that has plagued our country for generations and that continues to adversely impact communities of color. It is apparent to many of us that the present moment demands action. Members of the Senior Administrative Team have been discussing ways in which the School of Music will respond with proactive measures in the days, months and years ahead, and it is precisely because this effort will extend into next academic year and beyond that both Greg Miller and I felt it was important to craft and issue this joint statement.

To begin with, we will charge the school's IDEA Committee (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) to immediately mobilize its membership to consider specific ways the school will respond to recent events and to take up with renewed vigor conversations it had already been having around making the School of Music more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible. We will pointedly charge this committee – and will ourselves take more decisive steps – to recommend and implement changes in our curriculum, programming and community engagement that reflect our commitment to combating racism in all of its forms and to using our art and scholarship as powerful tools in so doing.

While no one can rewrite history, it is incumbent upon each of us to lead the charge for lasting change. As Marian Anderson, the eminent African-American singer once said, “No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.” As we continually strive toward the ideals of equality and justice upon which our country was founded but that continue to elude us, let us keep these potent words in mind and let us not forget the uncanny ability of music to inspire resilience, fortitude, action and hope.


Jason Geary

Greg Miller


A message from the Artist Partner Programs and The Clarice Management Team 

Thu, June 4, 2020


Dear friends, 

The plague of racism has deep historical roots. We lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, and Ahmaud Arbery senselessly, and they are only the most recent of the countless Black people who have died too soon because of reckless violence.

Black voices, Black bodies and Black lives matter. It is the responsibility of individuals and organizations like ours to be actively anti-racist. We will not be complicit and will hold ourselves accountable to our community and audiences.

What am I doing?

  • Educating myself through resources like Layla F. Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor” which will take me on a 28-day journey, complete with journal prompts, to unpack my biases and dismantle my privilege
  • Supporting organizations like Black Visions Collective dedicated to defending Black lives
  • Teaching my children about race, racism and privilege
  • Embracing vulnerability and humility in my leadership decisions

What are we doing?

The Clarice Management Staff includes a team of 50 professional staff, working alongside more than 200 student employees. The Artist Partner Programs include the National Orchestral Institute + Festival, NextNOW Fest, the Visiting Artist Series, NextLOOK partnership as well as myriad campus and community engagement events.

Common to all of these programs is a commitment to artists who are changing the narrative of our broken society and its archaic structures by creating work that asks difficult questions, provokes dialogue and inspires curiosity. Common to all of these programs is creativity and action, tools for making unheard voices amplified and unseen bodies vivid.

  • We will reexamine the mission of the Artist Partner Programs to ensure we are explicit about our commitment to anti-racism
  • Our curatorial choices will aim to amplify the stories of Black communities, both on campus and off
  • We will increase our commitment to local, Black artists by offering additional resources of time, space and dollars to support the development of their work
  • We will partner with Black student and service organizations to build trust and provide access to the performing arts
  • We will continue to require training and retraining of our staff to ensure we work in an environment that is anti-racist for the safety of our staff, our student employees, our visiting artists and our patrons

This is what we pledge today, and as we navigate the coming weeks and months, our conversations will be informed by advocacy and arts citizenship as we collectively work towards becoming a more anti-racist, equitable community.


Erica Bondarev Rapach
Acting Executive Director
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

*Acknowledging Jasmine Mitchell’s (’20 UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies) Anti-Racist Packet, Corinne Shutack’s “75 Things White People Can Do for Social Justice” and Benish Shah’s “How to Talk Trauma & Protests at Work. The (very non-definitive) Guidelines,” all invaluable resources that have, and will continue to, inform my actions.


A message from the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Wed, June 3, 2020


Dear TDPS Community, 

The following statement from TDPS leadership was sent to students, faculty, and staff this morning.

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies is a school within a predominantly white institution. The school recognizes that within the culture of higher education, we have a duty to: 

  • Deepen anti-racist practices within the school by weaving anti-racist practice and education into the classes we offer;
  • Amplify the voices of Black and People of Color artists and scholars;
  • Examine and acknowledge participation in racism and white supremacy in all of its disguises;
  • Disrupt racism when encountered, especially in spaces where white people are the majority;
  • Examine, acknowledge, and change practices, protocols, and offerings that feed into a culture of anti-Blackness and white privilege, that excludes People of Color; and
  • Hold each other accountable for our unconscious biases and practices of privilege.

Black bodies matter. Black voices matter. Black art matters.

Please know that we want to support you. Send me or Maura Keefe or Susan Miller or Crystal Gaston your questions and concerns. We will work to help.


Leigh Wilson Smiley and Maura Keefe


A message from the UMD College of Arts & Humanities

Tue, June 2, 2020


Dear ARHU Community, 

Although I’m writing in a sad and difficult time, I am heartened by the many members of our community—administrators, faculty, students, staff, alumni — working to fight systemic racism in America, raising awareness about inequality and demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery among others. When I participated in the 1966 Meredith March Against Fear in Mississippi and other Civil Rights demonstrations of that era, I did so with hope and a strong belief that fundamental change would result. After all the lives lost and battles fought, I am disheartened that subsequent generations must continue these struggles. Yet as a scholar on the intersections of race, class, gender and other dimensions of inequality, I know that these wounds fester and reopen in every generation throughout U.S. history. 

The convergence of repeated acts of police injustice with a pandemic that has killed over 100,000 people, unparalleled levels of unemployment and a lack of national moral leadership has created a crisis that has left us in a state of anxiety, anger, stress and exhaustion. 

As students and scholars of the arts and humanities, we know that our fields have much to offer in these times. Let us work together to expand the impact of knowledge that combats systemic racism through our incisive courses, penetrating scholarship, inspiring programming and effective community advocacy. Let this guide us throughout the upcoming academic year and beyond. 


Bonnie Thornton Dill
Dean & Professor 
College of Arts & Humanities, University of Maryland 

UMD Campus Statements:

June 01 - Pines: Stand in Solidarity, Unite Against Injustice  

May 31 - In Community and Solidarity

May 29 - Statement by USM Leadership on Structural Racism and the Killing of George Floyd   

May 21 - Responding to Anti-Black Racism