Diversity & Inclusion Statement

We believe that Black Lives Matter.

We believe that listening to and learning from our region’s Black community will help us serve our entire region.

We believe the performing arts can meaningfully contribute to societal conversation, change, and healing.

We are in a critical time in our nation’s history, where we are beginning to reckon with the disproportionate and violent impact that systemic racism continues to have upon people of color. Our communities are hurting. In this extremely challenging time, our hearts are with our Black artists, trustees, volunteers, and families.

The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) was formed by the merger of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Toledo Ballet. Between these two organizations, we have nearly 160 years of performance history in front of Toledo audiences. When we reflect upon this history, we come to an important conclusion: while we strive to serve our region, we have not served all the people in our community to the best of our ability. 

We take responsibility for our role in this. We must do better in our relationship to communities of color and religion, especially our Black community.

We have made concerted efforts, particularly in showcasing Black performers and creators, but we still have much to learn and much to accomplish. We believe that our organization is uniquely situated to impact our community in many ways. Through our choice of performers, we can inspire our audience members. Through our choice of choreographers, composers, and creators, we can bring new voices to a community conversation. Through our choice of educational curriculum, we can prepare students to engage meaningfully with a diverse and vital world. Through our organizational behavior, we can be role models for collaboration and partnership.

Our Board of Trustees has formed a committee that will focus upon matters related to Diversity, Engagement, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI). Composed of trustees and staff, this Committee has the broad mandate to address the following:

  • On our stages: increase the number and visibility of performers and creators of color in our performance seasons.
  • In our studios: incorporate creators of color into the curriculum of our Toledo Ballet dance programs, Toledo Symphony School of Music, and Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras to foster an inclusive and diverse learning environment.
  • In our neighborhoods: promote meaningful collaborations between our educational programs and communities of color to increase the diversity of our faculty and student body.
  • In our community: partner with individuals and community organizations to create meaningful and relevant performing arts experiences for all in our region.
  • In our workplaces: implement training programs that examine the effect of unconscious or implicit bias on workplace culture.
  • Across our organization: develop strategies to increase diversity across our board and employees.

As an organization whose lifeblood is the performing arts, we often shy away from mistakes. However, we are motivated by the words of Randall Goosby, a remarkable violinist who will present his Toledo debut in November: “I hope that people don’t easily allow their fear of getting it wrong to deter them from doing what’s right.” We will make mistakes. But as artists, we will listen, we will collaborate, and we will learn from them. When we next reflect upon our history, we will be better musicians, dancers, educators, and community citizens for embarking on this process.

We will need your help in this. If you have any suggestions, ideas, or guidance for our organizations, we would love to hear from you. We have set up an e-mail address, diversity@artstoledo.com, that will have us respond quickly to suggestions relevant to our DEAI committee and its initiatives.

Thank you, all of you, for giving us the opportunity to be your performing arts organization.

Zak Vassar Pat Bowe
President & CEO Board Chair

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.: What does TAPA stand for?

A.: TAPA stands for the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts.

Q.: Who is part of TAPA?

A.: TAPA is a merger between the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet.

Q.: Why does this make sense?

A.: Four key reasons:

  1. History: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet are the city’s two oldest performing arts organizations. They have a positive history of collaboration, dating back to the 1940s.
  2. Efficiency: By joining forces, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet are able to operate more efficiently. These organizations don’t each need a ticket office, for example. By optimizing the back-office operations of these organizations, they can maximize their art forms.
  3. Education: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet share educational missions. Between the Toledo Symphony School of Music, Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras, and Toledo Ballet School, the organizations provide instruction and training to over 700 area students. By consolidating these educational initiatives into a single organization, it creates a school of music and dance that is unprecedented in the area.
  4. Programming: Many opportunities exist to create multi-sensory programming that explores the intersection of music and dance through traditional and new ways.

Q.: Why merge now?

A.: These kinds of strategic relationships are strongest when the constituent organizations want to merger rather than need to merge. The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have both recorded strong gains in audience development, revenues, and fundraising. Both organizations face some challenges—like most non-profits—but both are generally considered to be healthy and well-funded. The organizations have worked together so successfully for so long, and both desire an opportunity to create something larger than the sum of its parts. They establish TAPA as a way to commit to providing the finest performing arts in the region.

Q.: Has this kind of merger happened before?

A.: Yes, the Chattanooga Symphony and Chattanooga Opera merged in 1985, marking the first performing arts merger in the USA. The Utah Symphony and Utah Opera followed in a 2002 merger. In 2012, the Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Ballet merged to create the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. The Sacramento Philharmonic and Sacramento Opera merged in 2013. These collaborations are generally deemed to be successful, especially when the organizations have a good history of working well together.

Q.: How long as a merger been in consideration?

A.: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have been working closely for a year to negotiate this merger. The staff, artistic leadership, and trustees of each organization developed a positive rapport and established trust through this process. Thanks to a grant from the Toledo Community Foundation, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet were able to seek the professional services of La Piana, a California-based consultancy that specializes in the creation of non-profit mergers.

Q.: What kind of scrutiny went into this merger?

A.: The organizations have reviewed one another’s historical records, legal commitments, and financial statements carefully and have a clear and comprehensive picture of the opportunities and challenges each faces. Officers from the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet boards of trustees were intimately engaged at all points of the merger discussions and negotiations.

Q.: Who will lead TAPA?

A.: Zak Vassar will serve as President & CEO of the new organization. The Toledo Symphony’s board chair, Pam Hershberger, will chair the combined boards. All Toledo Symphony officers will lead the new organization. All trustees of the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet will become trustees of TAPA. Three Toledo Ballet trustees will join approximately 12 Toledo Symphony trustees on TAPA’s Executive Committee.

Q.: Does the Toledo Symphony just go away?

A.: No, the Toledo Symphony will continue as a TAPA program. Likewise, its youth orchestras and School of Music will continue business as usual.

Q.: Does the Toledo Ballet just go away?

A.: No, the Toledo Ballet will continue as a TAPA program. Likewise, its school and company will continue business as usual.

Q.: Will anyone lose their job because of this merger?

A.: All Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet staff, teachers, and orchestra musicians will join TAPA. Existing vacancies will be eliminated.

Q.: What can we expect to see from the combined organization?

A.: The Toledo Symphony will incorporate more choreography into its programming, including annual dance performance(s) on its Masterworks Series. Most Toledo Ballet performances will feature Toledo Symphony musicians.

Q.: When will the first combined performances be?

A.: As it happens, the Toledo Symphony invited the Toledo Ballet to join in its presentation of Swan Lake on September 21 & 22, 2018 at the TMA Peristyle. It will represent one of the largest collaborations yet between the two organizations. This concert was devised over a year ago, long before the merger talks began. It just so happens that the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet were able to announce the merger just days before this symbolic first performance. The two organizations will also present the Nutcracker on December 8 & 9, 2018 at the Stranahan Theater.

Q.: Will the Symphony and Ballet always appear on one another’s performances?

A.: No. The Ballet will dance only on certain Symphony programs. The Symphony will provide live music for many/most of the Ballet productions.

Q.: How can people find more information about TAPA?

A.: People can learn more about TAPA by visiting artstoledo.com.

Q.: How do I get tickets for performances?

A.: By visiting toledosymphony.com, calling 419.246.8000, or visiting the box office located at the Professional Building, 1838 Parkwood Avenue, in advance. Tickets may also be purchased at the venues on the day of the performance. Toledoballet.com will redirect to toledosymphony.com.