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The LYO Cultural Equity Plan is under continuing development.  Last update:  March 19, 2024


LYO Snapshot

The Louisville Youth Orchestra (LYO) is a nonprofit performing arts organization dedicated to offering youth in the region an engaging and enriching instrumental ensemble experience. We strive to create community for our young musicians through a shared desire to learn and perform, while nurturing a lifelong love of music.


Founded in 1958, the LYO began with only one orchestra. Since then, we have grown to serve over 250 students in eight ensembles, and our members come from 80+ schools across 16 counties throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana. In Jefferson County alone, our students represent 30 ZIP codes. Fifteen highly talented artistic and administrative staff collaborate to develop LYO music programming, led by Music Director and accomplished music educator, Doug Elmore.

In the 23-24 season, the LYO serves nearly 400 student musicians ages 7-20. Our student membership reaches well beyond Louisville into 16 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. LYO provides an avenue for high-quality educational performance opportunities to both urban and rural populations, many of which lack strings programs. Within Jefferson County alone, 30 ZIP Codes are represented by our students. We recruit to over 150 schools in the region. LYO membership mirrors Louisville’s own diversity. In our 2023 demographic survey of LYO students, 7% identify as Black or African American, 16% identify as Asian, 5% as Hispanic, Latinx, or of Spanish origin, 7% as more than one race, and 68% as white, non-Hispanic (with 2% unknown). 45% identify as a female/woman/ girl, 51% identify as male/man/boy, 3% as non-binary, 1% selected other or transgender. Languages spoken at home include English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Telugu, Bosnian, Arabic, and Vietnamese. 81% of LYO students attend public schools, 16% attend private schools, and 3% attend home school or other programs. 20 LYO students are in grades Pre-K thru 5, 121 in grades 6-8, 178 in grades 9-12, and 1 recently graduated. The LYO places a high value on serving students of varying abilities and backgrounds through the transformative power of symphonic music. To help those at a disadvantage, we award generous tuition assistance to remove financial barriers to participation. In 2023, LYO awarded nearly $30K in assistance to 75 students. Our Presto! Strings program also serves families in Title 1 JCPS Schools by providing free weekly after- school beginning strings instruction. LYO is a proud partner to public schools and non-profits each contributing to the youth arts ecosystem of our region.


The mission of the LYO is to fuel the passion and growth of young musicians through extraordinary musical experiences.


In 2022, members of the LYO Diversity and Inclusion Committee engaged in an honest self-assessment of our organization’s values, representation, and programs. This included completing a SWOT analysis to guide our areas of focus. We engaged with a KPAN advisor to work through the SWOT analysis to create a framework for the Cultural Equity Plan. Additionally, LYO board and staff participated in a survey to aid in the creation of the DEIA definitions. The results of the survey led to valuable sharing and discussion among the committee, who worked to refine the DEIA definitions included in the Plan.


While our Cultural Equity Plan will remain flexible in order to be responsive to the needs of our organization from season to season, it will also align with the two-year timeline of the FY22-FY23 LYO Strategic Plan, developed by the Board of Directors. At a minimum, the LYO Diversity and Inclusion Committee will complete yearly assessments of our progress and outcomes.


The LYO Cultural Equity Plan was created in consultation with KPAN advisor Julia Youngblood, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by Cindy Watson, and LYO Executive Director, Alissa Brody. LYO board and staff were actively involved in its creation and review. The final draft will be voted on in the spring of 2023.


We view diversity as a strength when LYO students, staff, board and audience mirror the richness and differences of the wider community surrounding us. This includes race, ethnicity, nationality, cultural background and faith tradition, as well as gender identity, socioeconomic status, ability, neurodiversity, age, and sexual orientation. We also celebrate diversity through music that 
represents a broad spectrum of instrumental genres, time periods, cultures and composers.

We are committed to equity by removing barriers to accessing our programs and performances and supporting those who don’t start with the same resources or who have been historically underrepresented.

We cultivate inclusion by creating a space where each student, staff, board and audience member is valued and respected, and feels a sense of belonging. We want to continually ensure that our students are empowered, supported and safe in their LYO experience.

Increasing access means that the LYO will be deliberate about creating successful pathways to participation by expanding our engagement, especially to communities that may not have considered instrumental music is an option for them.

Statement of Values

The LYO, in building a culture of DEIA, reaffirms its commitment to creating a strong musical community for our
students through a wide variety of ensembles, diverse programming, thoughtful recruiting, and increasing access
through scholarships. We are prioritizing transformative change through understanding the meaning of DEIA to the
LYO. Cultivating a wider student and audience base through a focus on cultural equity is key to our growth and
that of our students, staff, and board.



  • We use music as a way of creating community and uniting students.

  • We make an impact widely in our community.

  • We nurture an inclusive, proactive, and culturally responsive environment.

  • We program and perform music that elevates and amplifies the voices of diverse composers.

  • We remove barriers to participation and engagement. This also includes the LYO Discovery Concert, Presto

  • Strings, and side-by-side performance experiences.

  • We value making LYO accessible by providing generous scholarships for membership and lessons as well as free concert tickets for those who otherwise might not be able to participate.

  • We create connection, and the LYO is a place where belonging is important for all students.

  • We recruit students widely, offer multiple audition sites, and continue to reach more zip codes and counties.

  • We collect and analyze our data to be more informed about the students, schools, and neighborhoods we currently reach and to identify areas needing greater efforts.

  • We develop and leverage the skills and expertise of our highly qualified staff to engage students.

  • We expand audience engagement through diverse concert locations each season continually seek an equitable balance of genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds among our staff and board members and foster an environment that encourages honesty and inclusion of all voices.

  • We collect and analyze our data to be more informed about the students, schools, and neighborhoods we currently reach and to identify areas needing greater efforts.

  • We develop and leverage the skills and expertise of our highly qualified staff to engage students.

  • We expand audience engagement through multiple concert locations each season.

  • We continually seek an equitable balance of genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds among our staff and board members and foster an environment that encourages honesty and inclusion of all voices.


We will work to reach more students from marginalized communities.

  • Identify disparities to access

  • Further target key populations and establish new partners among each

  • Identify under-leveraged community leaders/partners in order to expand our reach

  • Expand channels for communicating with the broader Louisville metro community

  • Provide translations of key documents for recruitment


We will have conversations about policies and practices that lead to unequal access for students.

  • Continue to address reasons for attrition, especially from underrepresented students

  • Introduce more points of flexibility for auditions

  • Assess ticket fees and parking costs related to performance venue selection

  • Provide an additional point of access to early orchestral education outside of school programs

  • Continue to grow inventory of instruments available for student use (Presto and core programs)


We will plan for and budget to provide the means to support new measures, projects, or programs.

  • Cultivate relationships with stakeholders who can help us advance equity in our programs

  • Identify partnerships to support BIPOC programs, businesses, or neighborhoods

  • Establish regular programs to provide tickets (especially introductory tickets) at a lower cost


We will amplify the knowledge and insights of both adults and students through advisory committees and focus groups.

  • Ensure an emphasis on representation by underrepresented populations in these groups

  • Meet at least three times per year with advisory groups to widen the focus beyond recruitment

  • Look to identify unknown factors that act as barriers to getting students to audition and join the LYO


We will ensure equal representation in LYO promotions and community-facing materials.

  • Perform an annual audit of website, brand, marketing, storytelling, and social media

  • Continue commitment to equal representation on brochures, posters, programs, and marketing materials

  • Review and update website frequently, especially at the end of each season

  • Highlight diversity and strengthen LYO messaging through the utilization of professional website andphotography


We will work to align efforts and commitment by staff and board to advancing racial and gender equity.

  • Evaluate and offer yearly professional development related to cultural equity for staff and board.

  • Deliberately cultivate and recruit board members to further address racial imbalances in the board.

Evaluation Tools and Measurement of Progress to Goals

The LYO will continue to discuss and evaluate objectives from the LYO Cultural Equity Plan as a unit through the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which includes five LYO board members and 3 LYO staff members. We will use a rubric with the following measurements to assess the work we are doing based on our Cultural Equity Plan.


0. Needs Work: Poor / gaps or problems identified / action needed

1. Baseline: Minimally acceptable / opportunity for growth outlined but stalled / incomplete strategies

2. Good Progress: Deliberate strategies in place / program under expansion / improvement noted

3. Excellent Progress: Strategies are now the norm / significant improvement noted / exceeding goal


The integration of goals relating to students, staff, and programming will be led by the LYO Executive Director (administrative) and LYO Music Director (artistic), both of whom are on the LYO Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Goals relating to the board will be addressed by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in coordination with the LYO Board President. Tracking and yearly evaluations of progress will be collaborative within the Committee, but led by the Committee Chair and Executive Director.

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