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Summer Archives

Elise Driver

- Nashville Ballet

My summer project was completed in partnership with the Nashville Ballet in Nashville, TN. Despite the unusual circumstances and remote work from home, my time at the Nashville Ballet was educational and enjoyable. The project focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the Nashville Ballet, per their DEI Strategic Plan. While working under DEI leadership, I supported integration and celebration of DEI values and principles at all levels of the organization. Additionally, I identified opportunities for DEI engagement throughout the upcoming season, FY 21-22. In collaboration with the ballet, I developed management tools designed for ensuring a long-term commitment to continual improvements in DEI. The tools created will provide structure, keep forefront momentum, and document progress at the department levels of the ballet. This process altogether proved to be a challenging hands-on learning experience, but also the utmost rewarding learning opportunity.


I invested time into building a close-knit relationship with my partner, who now I consider a lifelong mentor and friend. This stable foundational relationship allowed me to develop a project that combined my service interests and exposed me to potential career aspirations and workplace culture in the performing arts industry. My project began with building a thorough understanding of the incumbent strategic plan, scheduled for an update this year, as the organization approaches the 2021-2022 Season. I studied the original plan used for the past four years and made independent critiques before comparing my analysis with the current draft of an updated strategic plan. By comparing the two plans, I identified the clear points that Nashville Ballet focused on changing in their updated strategic plan. The greatest of these changes was the drive to integrate organizational DEI values organization-wide, in all areas and departments, while also modifying the language and vernacular used in the strategic plan to cultivate a more inclusive, equitable culture in their community. Another key point was taking initiative to offer more artistic opportunities and training for underrepresented minority demographics in the company performances, specifically for women-identifying and African American artists.


The remainder and heart of my project identified systematic barriers that could harm the advancement of DEI and proposed structural solutions to hold the Nashville Ballet accountable to their ambitious strategic plan. Ultimately, the final project outcomes are tools and resources available to the Nashville Ballet to insure successful implementation of DEI principles in each department. These resources also include my independent research reports of industry best practices, as well as specific opportunities for continued internal education in the future. Furthermore, I brainstormed and helped develop future educational programming with a focus on DEI through the Community Engagement department. These programs are still in the works and early planning stages, and I look forward to following their successful execution soon.


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