Britain's culture minister set off a row about high culture and national identity this week in castigating a popular series of classical music concerts for failing to attract a multiethnic audience. For Candace Allen, an African-American author living in London, the debate is more than theoretical: while classical music can be life-affirming, it's tougher to appreciate with white audience members staring at you.
Writing in the Guardian, Allen says that "all too often, non-white audience members can be counted on one hand." It'll take exposure of all social classes to all registers of art—high and low—to make audiences more diverse. Only then, Allen writes, will the stares she feels become "increasingly a thing of the past, like smallpox or second-hand smoke."