The Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) Artists’ Initiative is a project that supports 5th-12th grade students from underrepresented communities and low-income households to pursue their dream of becoming a professional classical musician. The PMAY Artists’ Initiative offers young musicians financial support to make lessons, music classes, youth orchestra participation, and summer music camps affordable. As a PMAY artist, students attend free college and career preparation workshops, and PMAY teachers and staff work with each family to ensure that each musician has an instrument and a strong plan in place for acceptance into a conservatory, college or university majoring in classical music.
PMAY was established to address a major issue in American classical music. Fewer than 5% of musicians in professional American orchestras are African American or Latino, and the number of South Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives are similarly low. Yet the cities that support these orchestras are racially and ethnically diverse. Philadelphia is the first city in the nation to address diversity in classical music on a city-wide level and aims to change the face of classical music throughout the country. PMAY’s participating organizations are Musicopia, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia Sinfonia, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Play On, Philly, The Primavera Fund, Project 440, The School District of Philadelphia, Settlement Music School and Temple University Music Preparatory Division.