How to Build Audience Diversity, with Jeri Lynne Johnson

Building audience diversity is not about PR programs, Black History Month concerts, or playing diverse composers on a few programs.

It’s about not reducing an entire population in our community to the color of their skin.

Building audience diversity is about realizing that “diversity” is more nuanced. It’s about realizing that we connect by building relationships.

It’s about not Expensive PR campaigns that attract diverse audiences to a single concert (if at all). These don’t result in lasting change because diverse audiences don’t feel welcome in our art form. They may know that we are having a concert, but they do not care.

Even the fact that we refer to diverse audiences as “they” in these paragraphs makes it clear that this discussion is long overdue.

Jeri Lynne Johnson and Diversity Consulting

Today, we talk with Jeri Lynne Johnson about her consulting work with DEI Arts Consulting and how they take classical music organizations through the process of understanding diversity. She shares why standard “diversity” programs aren’t effective, what actually motivates diverse audiences to attend events, and how telling diverse stories in the arts is the key to equity and inclusion for the rest of our culture.

Learn more about Jeri Lynne at, DEI Arts Consulting at, and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra at


  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:30 Jeri’s DEI Arts Consulting practice and why diversity consulting is not about a one-time fix
  • 03:14 Redefining “Diversity” and what organizations, especially classical music organizations, get wrong about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • 10:22 Diversity beyond race and building relationships with your community
  • 18:44 Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra: how it developed from a need to engage audiences of color and change what orchestras were offering.
  • 23:56 The importance of diversity on the stage and the role it plays in the diversity of the audience
  • 27:19 Closing and Plugs

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