Breckenridge Social Equity Advisory Commission still determining its role in town operations

A welcome to Breckenridge sign is pictured May 13, 2020. The Breckenridge Social Equity Advisory Commission recently finalized its vision statement: Striving for racial equality, removing barriers to social equity, helping everyone thrive.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Summit Daily archives

After months of conversation, the Breckenridge Social Equity Advisory Commission finally implemented a vision statement at its meeting Monday, July 19.

The commission decided to stick with the working vision statement it came up with at its last meeting: Striving for racial equality, removing barriers to social equity, helping everyone thrive. Commissioners agreed they didn’t want to take any more time to come up with an elongated version of the same statement and will use this as its guiding light.

Now that the commission has agreed on its vision, it hopes to start working to implement change — but how?

This is a discussion the commission will have at its next meeting as it figures out how to interact with town staff and council in its role as an advisory commission.

Commissioner Jason Smith said he sees issues coming to the commission through three avenues: Breckenridge Town Council and town staff will recognize subjects it wants the commission to review, the commission will notice items it wants to provide insight on, and other items will be brought directly to the commission to review. The rest of the commission agreed this is a good base to start with.

As a next step, two members of the commission — Smith and Town Council member Dick Carleton, both of whom serve on the town’s police advisory committee, as well — will look to form a subcommittee with one other commission member to work with the police advisory committee.

The idea came from Smith, who noticed that he and Carleton had a difference in perspective from the chief of police on policing statistics, and Smith thought it would be a good opportunity to start a conversation with the commission.

“I want to do it in the most mature way possible, find out what’s going on, because I don’t want to prejudge someone on where their perspective is coming from,” Smith said in the meeting. “I would love to have a bigger conversation, and I also want to make sure all parties involved have a chance to explain, too, because it could just be a giant misunderstanding, but I think it was something we should open up.”

The commission agreed this would be a good idea and plans to decide who the third member of the subcommittee will be at its next meeting.

Commissioners also listened to a presentation from National Repertory Orchestra CEO Dave DePeters about the orchestra’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

“We want to move forward; it’s the right thing to do,” DePeters said in the meeting. “We want to be part of the solution here in town and around the country. We want to connect with all parts of our community, and we’re not able to do that right now, so we’re working hard to figure out a way to do this.”

DePeters noted that the historical inequities in classical music are well documented, sharing statistics from the League of American Orchestras.

A survey the league did showed that from 1980 to 2014, nonwhite populations in American orchestras went from 3.4% to 14.2%, most of which DePeters said came from Asian and Pacific Islanders. He added that from 2002 to 2014, Hispanic/Latino musicians went from 1.8% to 2.5%, and Black and African American musicians went from 1.7% to 1.8%.

DePeters said the orchestra hired a consultant that it will work with through the end of March 2022 on learning and development initiatives, stakeholder interviews and a committee partnership. He said it’s important to acknowledge that this work won’t end once the consultant’s contract expires, though.

“I believe that the NRO is in a really good space to do some actual really good work here,” DePeters said.

Commissioners were all supportive of the initiatives DePeters discussed and were eager to share more ideas with him, one being for a mentorship program between the members of the orchestra and student musicians within the district.

Commissioner Jordan Burns said he would love to see members of the orchestra forming smaller groups to perform in restaurants and bars downtown to interact with the community, as this can diversify the crowd interested in the National Repertory Orchestra.

“Music itself has so much culture, and so connecting and doing outreach within the community is a great idea,” Commissioner Tahja Grier said.

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