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Update from the MPAP Chair: Equity, Belonging, and Community Action

Dear MPAP Community,

I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for all you have contributed to this community over the course of the past few months. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you.

Over the summer, MPAP reflected on how we can contribute to change and help advance racial justice. As a department, we own that we have not always gotten it right in terms of racial equity. In fact, in our deep and difficult reflection, we have learned and now understand how our academic structure owes BIPOC students immediate rectification. We apologize for not understanding this before, and MPAP will work toward building an anti-racist environment. We understand our programs must abandon their current models and create something new. Notwithstanding, I want to share with you the progress we have made on the many important issues facing our community, including racial representativeness in the faculty, guest artists, and curricula, and healing for harmful classroom and experiential learning experiences.

I have continued meeting throughout the fall semester with the school’s Vice Dean of Equity, Belonging, and Community Action, David E. Kirkland, and his team, full-time faculty, staff, and administrators on what WE can do better to address our own systemic biases and racial aggressions that inflict unnecessary harm throughout our communities. I have also met with students and alums representing various programs and attended program meetings to listen to and learn from feedback and suggestions on how each group felt MPAP can improve. In these sessions, I heard members of our community articulate their deep concerns over past and current practices within MPAP, as well as their hopes for positive changes to the department’s culture. The faculty and I continue to develop a better understanding of the pain we have caused and contributed to and will continue to address these issues while affirming and supporting our students’ right to be here.

The MPAP community has already taken action on several fronts. Many MPAP faculty members have taken University and external training related to implicit bias and anti-racism, in addition to educating themselves on understanding and mitigating racial and other microaggressions. We know that there is much work to do, we won't always get it right, and these efforts are only a modest beginning, but we are committed to the goal of racial justice and inclusion in the department, and these trainings and conversations will remain a part of MPAP’s ongoing mission.

Additionally, while the University has both an administrative and full-time faculty hiring freeze, MPAP is pleased to announce the hiring of new BIPOC adjunct faculty this semester. MPAP understands the importance of having a diverse faculty in order to support our students from various backgrounds and representing different aesthetics, genres, and sound cultures. We have developed a formal hiring process and system which will be launched in Fall ’21 to create equity in our hiring practices.

Program Directors are reviewing their current curricula with faculty to build a new framework built on diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion.

During this semester, MPAP programs hosted many BIPOC guest artists and speakers, and I’ve listed some of the details below.

MPAP is committed to supporting initiatives and leading new efforts to improve the experience of everyone in our community at all intersections of their identities. Through the combined efforts of our staff, faculty, and all of you, along with the support of our community at large, we continue to thrive and succeed.

I look forward to working with you in 2021 to embrace new opportunities and continue tackling these challenges.

MPAP will follow through with this mission. As we continue to stand with our BIPOC community, denounce any acts of discrimination, and define our unique sense of creativity and professional identification, we will welcome, support, and learn from faculty, staff, and students who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity at NYU and in our nation.

Your voice matters! You matter! Please feel free to share your ideas, comments, and suggestions with me and the department’s administrative leadership by contacting For additional support, please contact to reach the Steinhardt Office of Equity, Belonging, and Community Action.

David Schroeder's signature Dr. David Schroeder
Chair, NYU Steinhardt MPAP


Composition: Guests this fall to Composers Forum have included the celebrated composer/clarinetist Don Byron, Pulitzer-winning composer/activist Du Yun, rising star Haitian-American composer/cellist/singer Leyla McCalla, and brand new MPAP Artist Faculty composer Shelley Washington.

Drama Therapy: The program hosted Nicholson Billey, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma whose performances demonstrate that everyday Indigenous (micro)acts can actively contribute toward the individual and collective generation of Indigenous resurgence, and Zeina Daccache, who has been implementing Drama Therapy processes in Lebanon and the Middle East since 2006.

Educational Theatre: The program’s fall production, Re-Writing the Declaration, was a collaboration with Free Street Theater and Speranza Foundation. Catalyzed by the Movement for Black Lives, the play is devised and participatory, inviting audiences to center Black women and femmes, non-binary, and trans folx of color, in order to free us all.

Music Business: Visitors this fall have included Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, the newly appointed Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy (the GRAMMY organization), who spoke to all Music Business undergrads about organizational transformation at the Academy; Jeffrey Harleston, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs for Universal Music Group worldwide and Co-Chair of UMG’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative; Courtney Stewart, CEO of Right Hand Management and manager of Khalid and many others; and Maurice Russell, Head of Rights Management at The MLC, the new US mechanical licensing collective, who is serving as a student mentor this semester in Entrepreneurship in the Music Industry.

Music Education: Guest lecturers and their topic presentations included Dr. Joyce McCall, “Speak No Evil: Talking Race as an African American in Music Education;” Dr. Tyrone Clinton, Jr., “The state of music education in a social setting: the intersection of being a POC, a classroom teacher and a classical musician;” Jasmine Britt, "Cultural Relevancy - Teaching, Reaching, and Engaging Students of Color in Secondary Instrumental Programs;” and humanitarian Jason Samuels Smith, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Elephant in the Room” - notable contributions by Black American musicians, singers, and dancers, and the overwhelming lack of inclusion of BIPOC people and their stories as an essential component to developing and evolving music in our global society.

Percussion: Guest artists in the masterclass series included percussionist, composer, and educator Timothy Adams, whose classes included current events, social injustice, and the fight for equality, among other topics; Lenny White; and Dr. Dawn Batson. Tim Adams and Lenny White have been commissioned to write large ensemble pieces for the NYU Percussion Ensemble, and Dr. Mia Benjamin-Gormandy has been commissioned to arrange Gustav Holst’s The Planets for NYU Steel, with the world premieres anticipated to take place next fall.

Performing Arts Administration: Internationally recognized audience development expert, DEI consultant, and Performing Arts Administration faculty member Donna Walker-Kuhne gave a lecture to Performing Arts Administration students about becoming an inclusive arts leader.

Vocal Performance: Guests this fall have included Ciara Renee, the first person of color to play the role of Elsa in the Broadway show Frozen; Haitian-American award-winning poet, actor, singer, and Hamilton cast member Carvens Lissaint; Cody Renard Richard, a production stage manager who is part of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, an organization that builds the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities to dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism through the power of storytelling and the leadership of people directly affected; and Cathy Ang and Ta'Nika Gibson, alumni who talked about their experiences as people of color entering the performing arts industry and how they have navigated challenges.

Read the Message from the MPAP Chair on Racism and Black Lives Matter

Message from the MPAP Chair on Racism and Black Lives Matter

"It is time for us to take responsibility and to take concrete steps to make MPAP an academic performance community where diversity and inclusion are indispensable and at the core of our teaching, training, and learning."

Read More