Code of Conduct

ACO Code of Conduct

Our Values


Whether honed through public school classrooms, conservatory training, oral traditions, new media, popular forms, or sacred spaces, we support artistry in all its forms and create generative spaces for creators to develop beautiful work that is an authentic expression of their practice.


We nurture the practice of creativity on and off the stage as a joyful space of possibility. We are committed to cultivating the new through playful curiosity, and to iterating our practices through inquiry.


We believe in the transformative power of collective creativity. Music invites participation through listening, sound-making, moving, imagining, and more. We create experiences that foster connections, unlocking the creative spirit within us all. To support a thriving ecosystem for American orchestral music as a living art form, we activate a national community of composers, performers, arts leaders, funders, educators, and listeners.

Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism

Orchestral music in America has long centered the traditions of Western Europe. ACO expands the definition of American orchestral music to ensure a vibrant and inclusive future. We are committed to removing barriers to participation, advancing representation of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, styles and aesthetics. We envision a future where orchestral stages celebrate the rich musical traditions that have always been at the heart of the Americas and the many people who call these continents home.

The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) Code of Conduct details standards of behavior expected from participants in any ACO-affiliated activity toward colleagues, the overall organization, and/or anyone else associated with ACO.

ACO promotes freedom of expression and open communication, but we expect all individuals engaged by ACO to abide by our code of conduct. Everyone is expected to avoid words and actions that may be found offensive, participation in serious disputes, or disruption of our work environment. We expect all participants to foster a positive, inclusive, emotionally safe, respectful, and collaborative environment.

Policy Elements

This policy applies to all ACO employees, contractors, board members, guest artists, and participants regardless of position, employment agreement, rank, or any other factor.



All ACO employees, contractors, board members, guest artists, and participants are to show integrity and professionalism in all ACO activities:

  • Interacting with fellow composers, staff, patrons, donors, or attendees in a friendly and collaborative manner, striving to avoid the creation of disruption or impediments to the work of colleagues.
  • Representing ACO in a professional and ethical manner at all times, including posts on any social media sites. 
  • Displaying care and professionalism and care in the use of ACO property, whether physical property in the form of equipment, instruments, or technology, OR incorporeal entities such as trademarks, copyright, and logos. In either case, no ACO property should be used or displayed without the consent of ACO.


Respect in the Workplace

All employees, contractors, board members, guest artists, and participants must respect their colleagues. They must act ethically, safely and responsibly towards one another at all times. 

Discriminatory behavior, harassment, or victimization of any kind is not tolerated. This includes during organized events, meetings or rehearsals, as well as situations occurring outside designated rehearsal, workshop, and/or performance time.

Harassment includes but is not limited to:

  • Sexual harassment such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or coerced sexual acts
  • Discriminatory harassment, such as derogatory comments on a person’s ethnic heritage, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression, OR aggression due to sexual identity, gender identity, or gender expression, OR use of derogatory language or slurs, in person or on the Internet  
  • The display of objects which are degrading to members of a particular group
  • Threatening behavior of any kind, including, physical or verbal aggression

If any individual experiences or witnesses harassment by an employee, contractor, board member, guest artist, or participant, they are obligated to report the incident as soon as possible to an ACO staff member. All reports will be discreetly and confidentially investigated.

All ACO staff members are responsible for ensuring that policies designed to prohibit harassment in the workplace are applied at all times and that all procedures and practices are free of discrimination. Any such actions, when determined, will bring prompt disciplinary steps against the offending party. 



We seek to create an environment where every employee feels safe to speak up and raise concerns as to potential misconduct, unethical behavior or possible violations of law or policy, without fear of retaliation.

We prohibit retaliation against any individual for reporting potential misconduct, unethical behavior or potential violation. We also prohibit retaliation against those who assist or cooperate in a subsequent investigation of such concerns.  Retaliation means any adverse action taken against a person because they reported or cooperated in an investigation.

Individuals who engage in retaliation are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. 


Disciplinary Actions

ACO will take disciplinary action against any employees, contractors, board members, guest artists, and participants who repeatedly or intentionally fail to follow this code of conduct. Disciplinary actions may vary depending on the violation and will be carried out at the discretion of the ACO administration.


Compliance with Law

All employees, contractors, board members, guest artists, and participants must conduct themselves in accordance with the applicable federal, state, and local laws. ACO reserves the right to take any and all legal action available in cases of unlawful behavior.

If there are any questions regarding this Code of Conduct or other ACO policies or actions, please contact Garrett McQueen, Director of Artist Equity:

Our Mission & Vision

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

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