Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.
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The Recording Inclusivity Initiative addresses the scarcity of classical music composers from historically excluded communities heard on the radio airwaves across the USA by producing new recordings.
Sahan Journal, an independent, nonprofit news site in partnership with MPR News, serves the immigrant and refugee populations of Minnesota with professional journalism centered on immigrant lives, voices, and experiences. It has been publishing essential pandemic coverage in Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, in order to be accessible to the three largest immigrant groups in the state.
“Framed by WDET” is a multimedia series that integrates photography and audio storytelling to present the story of Detroit’s ethnic and cultural communities on the radio, online, in a photobook, and at pop-up exhibitions in more than 20 art spaces in the Detroit region and beyond. It explores the moments and spaces that Detroiters share with one another through the work of 18 Detroit-based photographers and audio producers.
Community in Unity is a solutions journalism project and event series from Alaska Public Media to begin critical and thoughtful dialogue between different people. APM works with community partners to invite people inside homeless shelters, community centers, prisons, and TV studios for recorded conversations about topics that are affecting them. Topics have ranged from race and identity to mental health, immigration, and incarceration.
Ode is a bimonthly live storytelling event from KWIT-KOJI Siouxland Public Media, of which Stories Without Borders was one installment. For this particular evening, the station teamed up with two other nonprofit organizations: the Mary Treglia Community House, whose mission is to help immigrants living in the community, and the Sioux City Art Center. Six storytellers stood before a live audience to tell their stories of leaving one home for another.
Recording Inclusivity Initiative
Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII): Let’s diversify America’s playlist, together.
RII was created by All Classical Portland (ACP), a public radio station based in the Pacific Northwest, in collaboration with N M Bodecker Foundation and Naxos Records. RII seeks to address the gap of classical music composers from underrepresented communities that make it onto the airwaves. Launched in January 2021, this initiative is the work of collaborators who believe that classical music is for everyone, led by ACP and funded in part by Oregon Cultural Trust, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Sorel Organization. Over the past two years, ACP has outlined strategy and written curriculum; engaged legal counsel to advise on contracts, copyright, and trademark; designed marketing assets; assembled a nominations panel from diverse communities; and coordinated a recording schedule.
A public call for nominations encouraged listeners, Pacific Northwest artists, and arts organizations to nominate works by classical composers from underrepresented communities to be recorded and published, stimulating regional/national awareness and local community support. In spring 2021, the RII Panel and Executive Advisors reviewed nearly 100 submissions and selected five compositions: two posthumous awardees and three works by living composers. The living composers were named Composers in Residence, in collaboration with Bodecker Foundation, and offered a week-long residency including creative workshops with musicians, recording sessions in a state-of-the-art studio, and a $2,500 award.
All five compositions are currently being recorded by Bodecker Foundation at Halfling Studio. The scores will be published, if applicable, and the recordings will be mastered and distributed by a partner record label in tandem with Naxos Records. ACP will spearhead creating a database of RII recordings, to be shared with partner public radio stations for free download and airplay.
In the coming year, ACP will challenge public radio stations across the USA to launch their own regional initiative, providing a how-to kit based on lessons learned from the inaugural RII. This kit will include grant application materials, marketing and branding assets, curriculum for productive community discussions, recording specs for broadcast-ready recordings, legal contracts, and more. KMFA in Austin has officially signed on to the initiative and we aim to inspire production of 200 recordings over the next 2-3 years.
Recording Inclusivity Initiative is changing America’s playlist with new recordings of works by underrepresented composers. The classical music industry faces a pervasive, generations-long diversity deficit. ACP is a pioneer in its programming, outreach, and collaborations—leading the nation from Portland, OR to uplift long-silenced voices of diverse creatives, and to make progress toward overcoming historical inequities.
RII is recording 5 pieces—2 posthumous works: “Femmes de légende” by Mélanie Bonis and “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson; and 3 new works: “Taking Names” by Jasmine Barnes, “A Spark and a Glimmer” by Lauren McCall, and “Souvenirs” by Keyla Orozco. Following distribution by Naxos, ACP’s recordings will be heard by millions, significantly increasing the reach of underrepresented composers and local artists.
This innovative and powerful initiative, a model to be adopted by radio stations nationwide, will stimulate industry-wide change in public radio and classical music. RII could inspire the creation of 200+ recordings by 2024.
RII is impacting listeners and communities, expanding appreciation of previously marginalized voices through ACP’s global digital and radio platforms. It will also impact artists and composers, providing invaluable promotion and high-quality recordings of their works as ACP shares the microphone and invites those who have been suppressed to take center-stage in this limitless concert hall on the radio.
All Classical Portland’s Recording Inclusivity Initiative has garnered approximately $100,000 in support to date, including donations from individuals, foundations, organizations, and corporations: Oregon Cultural Trust - $34,376; Regional Arts and Culture Council - $3,000; Sorel Organization - $10,000; IBEW Local 48 - $12,000; Record Label - $27,000; First Republic Bank - $3,000. NM Bodecker Foundation is providing in-kind support for RII’s recording sessions valued at $9,000.