A kickoff event for diversity at Local 802

Volume 123, No. 9October, 2023

Martha Hyde and Jessica Phillips

On September 13, Local 802’s diversity initiative, the DECIBAL Collective, officially kicked off with a professional networking “meet and greet” in the Local 802 Club Room. The acronym DECIBAL (a deliberately misspelled word) is a fun play on “decibel” but the acronym stands for the serious work of Diversity, Equity, Community, Inclusion, Belonging, Access, and Leadership we need to do in our industry.

As introduced in our September Allegro article, the DECIBAL Collective comprises six grassroots groups that advocate for DECIBAL issues in various ways. The groups include: Maestra, MUSE, Broadway Musicians Equity Partnership (BMEP), Arts Ignite, Black Orchestral Network (BON) and Trans & Expansive Music Professional Organization (TEMPO). There are 20 individual unaffiliated members, including 802 Executive Board members, the Local 802 Organizing Department, and Local 802 Financial Vice President Karen Fisher. Two more grassroots groups are considering joining.

At its inception, the DECIBAL Collective created six working groups, one of which is “Events,” tasked with a focus on bringing people together, especially in person at the Local 802 Club Room. BMEP co-hosted this kickoff event with Local 802 as part of their inaugural program. Local 802 is providing the Club Room for BMEP’s training cohort, running from September through December. See BMEP’s announcement here. Over 70 people were in attendance at this meet and greet and the event was coordinated with the Local 802 annual membership drive, which waives initiation fees. The membership drive lasts through the end of the year; see info here.

As co-founder of the DECIBAL initiative, Martha Hyde acted as master of ceremonies, and there were short speeches from representatives of BMEP, Maestra, MUSE, and TEMPO as well as Local 802 Financial Vice President Karen Fisher.

The DECIBAL Collective “Events” group is committed to hosting or co-hosting two events a month. The next event is Tuesday, October 10 in conjunction with 802 Jazz Night. The Special Audiences and Musicians Sextet will perform, followed by an open jam session.

Special Audiences and Musicians presents concerts in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and other similar settings. The organization draws from underrepresented musicians such as senior musicians, musicians with disabilities and female musicians for its working ensembles.

The DECIBAL Collective will also be taking part in the Black Orchestral Network’s 2023 Summit on October 21 from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm at the Jay Suites “Paris Room” (109 W 39th Street). This event, “Telling Our Stories, Lifting Our Voices, and Cultivating Community,” is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. Local 802 will be a part of a panel discussion moderated by BON co-founder Jennifer Arnold. You can register for this event here.

Stay tuned for more events and other DECIBAL Collective activities in November and December. Contact the authors of this article for more information: Martha Hyde ( and Jessica Phillips (