Boston Children’s Chorus – Challenge Semi-Finalist

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Members of the Boston Children’s Chorus.

Our adaptive challenge

Because deep and meaningful relationships don’t automatically form just by bringing diverse people together or by physically locating programs in underserved neighborhoods, Boston Children’s Chorus will inspire a sense of belonging across social and racial lines and a more just community in the future by approaching our work in a community-centric vs. arts-centric way and redefining our relationship with our communities by being open, active listeners and building trust.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

BCC’s mission is to “harness the power and joy of music to unite our city’s diverse communities and inspire social change.” We focused our early resources on building the artistic integrity of the organization, resulting in a strong platform that garners significant visibility. It is now our responsibility to bring balance to our integrated mission and go further beyond just having a diverse constituency, moving toward greater appreciation and acceptance of our uniqueness. We are intrigued and energized by the role that young singers can play in connecting us more deeply. As a city that has not yet emerged fully from behind the shadow of entrenched social and racial discord, Boston is the perfect place for testing a bold new direction.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

  1. That we can create social change just by bringing diverse people together.
  2. That as trained professionals, we are the “keepers of culture” in our community and that the community needs what we offer; that art must be preserved at all costs, and therefore, programs must be approached in an arts-centric way vs. community/audience-centric way; and that there is no value in seeing what the community can offer us, since it can only be marginal and threaten our high standards of art.
  3. That culturally specific programming and targeted marketing are what drives community into our programs.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

BCC brings diverse students together for a common purpose, and yet they still struggle to know each other in a meaningful way. We thought connection would form organically. Strategically placing choirs in four underserved Boston neighborhoods has not yielded results in additional membership from singers from those areas, and non-family residents from those neighborhoods don’t attend concerts. It seems residents don’t even know we are in their neighborhood. Also, while we attracted the Latino community to a special all-Latin program, they have not returned to any of our other concerts. In addition, although we tried to reach out, we had difficulty attracting the Arab community to a concert in which we premiered a song with Arabic and English lyrics.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

BCC seeks to be known for social bridging to the same degree as the artistic recognition we’ve earned in the past decade. To do so, we need to challenge traditional power dynamics held by most cultural institutions, and become active listeners and learners to more fully connect with each other and our diverse communities. We need to ask questions: how do we more deeply understand who BCC’s singers and staff are as individuals? How do we understand our relationships with each other, and collectively as an organization in relation to the community? What ideas can we test to promote increased connection and trust? As we journey in this bold direction, we imagine this work will be most powerful through the unique lens and context of our music.

Our vision of success

Our vision is for Boston Children’s Chorus to be recognized as a catalyst for connecting people in our community across socioeconomic and racial lines in a meaningful way, just as much as it is recognized artistically, and to be an organization that inspires a sense of belonging and community in our singers, and among families and audiences. We envision helping to inspire a vibrant Boston where folks are treated with respect, dignity and fairness regardless of differences. In this vein, as we redefine and transform our relationship with audiences, we want to become a model for other arts organizations around the nation for how our community can come together. We hope our efforts of promoting deeper connectivity lead to a more just society.

The Boston Children's Chorus singing at a service with President Obama.
The Boston Children’s Chorus singing at a service with President Obama.
About
Boston Children's Chorus is an afterschool music education program that provides sustained learning in music literacy, vocal technique, performance, and leadership skills for children ages 7-18. BCC serves 450 youth across differences of race, religion and socioeconomic status from over 80 neighborhoods of Greater Boston.

  • Kerry Thompson

    Participation in BCC is a character-building experience for young singers that has staying-power. In Boston and beyond, BCC graduates carry it on.

    • Jan Woiler Meuse

      Kerry, thank you so much for your kind words! And, you are a poet, too :-).

  • Tanja Smith

    BCC is doing a phenomenal job in the lives of the Younger Generation here in the Boston Community where everyone from every creed and culture matters. Congratulations and continue the good work.

    • Jan Woiler Meuse

      Thanks so much, Tanja, we appreciate your support!

  • A Bonardi

    BCC is an organization that is leading by example: reflecting on its success and always asking “now, how can we be better?”. Organizations that do this are capable of becoming pillars in their community. I wish BCC all the best on this journey.

    • Jan Woiler Meuse

      A. Bonardi: we thank you kindly for your amazing vote of confidence in BCC. May I ask how you know us (I’m sorry I don’t immediately know), and also I’d love to request using your quote as an example of community support when we submit funding proposals. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again.

      • A Bonardi

        Happy to be involved as a BCC parent since 2007. Feel free to use any or all of a quote if it is helpful. I mean it!

  • Oby Egbunike

    BCC has joined children from all works of life together through the power of music while teaching how to become responsible adults of the community. Keep up the good job and best of luck in all your endeavors.

  • LIZ STRZEPA

    BCC is a wonderful organization that has helped shape the lives of many of my best friends and former choir members. The bond that BCC singers share is indescribable. When you travel to places as far away as the Middle East, you can’t help but form family-like bonds with those you’re surrounded with. As a proud BCC alumnae, I can undoubtedly say BCC helped shape my character – particularly in the way I view social relationships and issues. Being exposed to such a diverse group of singers from all sorts of socioeconomic, racial, and geographic backgrounds at a young age was an eye-opening experience. VOTE BCC!

    • Blanca Campos

      BCC is great organization that has helped my daughter to develop her talent of singing and she feels confident of herself when she’s in front of a lot people..thank you BCC!!!!

    • John Connolly

      Liz, you are an amazing supporter of BCC…always tweeting and us and stuff!!! And also a fantastic alum! Hope you’re doing well and hope we see you soon :)

  • julia

    Thank you BCC for all you do! I go to BCC, and have a blast every rehearsal. It’s a blessing to be a part of BCC, and I hope it will continue for many, many years to come.

  • Robert Adams

    David and Anthony:

    Still reveling in the Strand concert from this afternoon; BCC continues to raise the bar to very special heights. You both educate, charm . . and overwhelme with the beauty of your accomplishment. You are the best of pied pipers . .we are proud to support BCC and you . .

    Bob Adams

  • deonne.robinson@verizon.net

    GO BCC

  • Cornelia Janke

    I work for an NGO, so I know what it takes to run a first class organization on a tight budget.BCC truly stands out, from the commitment of its staff, to the musical depth that is evident every time these kids sing. BCC delivers!

  • Yay BCC!
    Still coming down off of the Strand cloud. Magnificent, David and Anthony. This year for Dylan has been one of tremendous growth, both vocally and socially, given her experience with BCC and living on Boston’s iconically remote N. Shore.
    Having grown up in Washington, DC, the concert on Sunday was worthy of The Kennedy Center.
    BRAVO to the dedicated staff and singers that comprise this exceptional organization.
    Is there a link to the concert on Sunday?

    GO BCC. ALL THE WAY.

  • You can track results BCC Family.
    Right now we are in 4th.
    GET OUT AND VOTE!!!
    Maybe the kids can become part of the voting challenge fun- one vote a day for the number of practices they attended. Given the commitment of this parent/child body, that would be alot of votes!!!!

  • Vivienne L. Wright

    I truly enjoyed teh boston Children’s Chorus

  • Shyana Harper

    BCC is an incredible organization, bringing together a diverse community like no other with a group of truly dedicated staff. Beyond the beautiful voices, this organizations brings about a special sense of community for my children and has helped them through personal challenges. Our family feels very fortunate to be a part of this and we are so grateful. Thank you BCC.

  • Kathleen Collman

    I love the Boston Children’s Chorus. Their’s is a unique contribution to our city (and beyond!) and the impact on each participant’s life is immeasurable.

  • Qingde Zhou

    My daughter loves BCC so much. Every week, no matter is it rain or snow, she takes bus and train to BCC herself because my wife and I are unavailable to drive her to BCC. We have seen her growing, changing, being more confident and joyful since she joined in BCC. We greatly appreciate BCC and its faculty giving my daughter an opportunity not only to learn music but also to shape her personality development.

  • Xiaoyan Tan

    BCC is great!

  • Phyllis Bretholtz

    There is nothing that can replace the passion children feel for expressing themselves in the arts. And Music is one of the most deeply felt, on an emotional, visceral and physical level. You can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces. Bravo! BCC. Phyllis Bretholtz

  • BBC is a magnificent program. It promotes discipline, drive, and encourage, as well demonstrate, to give 110%.

  • Dianne Chalfant

    Good luck! Know you have to be a great bunch of kids.

  • Tim Ferguson

    BCC is awesome. Looking forward to The Boy King premiere this weekend.

  • David Beardsley

    BCC really is an amazing program. Great work, y’all. Good luck.

  • Maxime Merisier

    BCC is an extraordinary program. My children and I are very pleased with BCC.
    HOORAY for BCC!!!

  • Pat Jackson

    BCC is extraordinary! I heard then at Emmanuel Church when they first started with their astonishing conductor. That are a treasure. All children should have these experiences.

  • Grace Woods

    Excellent!

  • francis malnati

    Excell!

  • bcc is great!