What We Do
The Minnesota Freedom band grew out of a grass roots community effort by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied (GLBTA) individuals who wanted to create a stronger sense of community through the sharing of music. We work for social justice and human rights by providing a positive, community building experience for our LGBTA members and by engaging the larger community through concerts and other outreach efforts. Our community has supported us for nearly 35 years because we provide safe, positive places for GLBTA people to gather to create music and provide mutual support.
Diversity and Outreach
We strongly value and are committed to diversity and inclusiveness. Concert and rehearsal venues are always fully accessible, and we have a scholarship program to assist our musicians who have difficulty paying membership dues. Our formal concerts are priced reasonably, with discounts for seniors and students - and a sliding scale for people with limited incomes. Access and admission for many of our events is free, including our annual Pride Concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis, our annual Queer Music Consortium concerts at the Lakeside Pavilion at Como Park in St. Paul, and the parades.
The Minnesota Freedom Band brings audience members from all walks of life to its events – those from different age groups, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, income levels, educational backgrounds, political affiliations, physical abilities, cultural backgrounds, economic status, gender identities, and many other colors of the rainbow. The band’s audience demonstrates that the enjoyment of music transcends all societal barriers.
Our Board of Directors is comprised of 5 women and 5 men - who are Caucasion, Asian, and Hispanic, and identify as Gay, Bisexual, and Straight . The concert band roster is also comprised of a balanced representation of women and men. We also consciously welcome members of non-traditional gender identities. We have many "straight" members who are allies to the GLBT community. We are an age-inclusive group, with current musicians ranging in age from 17 to 70. Our community membership includes those of Asian, Hispanic, European, and African-American heritage.
The band’s membership includes people from all walks of life. The average member has played for 16 years with the group. There are three active members with over 30 years in the band.
The Minnesota Freedom Band concerts typically draw between 75-300 people, depending on the event. Approximately 5-10 people from the community volunteer at the band’s indoor concerts, serving as cashiers, ushers, and coordinators. An estimated 150,000-250,000 people enjoy the band each year during the Ashley Rukes GLBTA (Twin Cities) Pride Parade.
The Minnesota Freedom Band strives to welcome all individuals to play in the band and attend concerts, regardless of income.
To achieve this goal, the band offers the following:
Band member scholarships. The band awards several scholarships each year to members who are unable to pay the $100 annual dues; this award is given to all members who ask and are in financial hardship.
Sliding scale concert fee. A sliding-scale fee (pay what you can) is offered for audience members. This policy is noted in the concert press releases sent to media organizations, noted in all our programs and on our tickets, and also communicated to the band members to notify their friends/family.
Our performance venues and rehearsal space are always handicapped-accessible/ADA compliant, and large print programs are available at our concerts upon request.