About Modern Marimba

Our Story

By sharing diversity in music, we hope to inspire those who seek a radically different future in our community – a future built on principles of healing, justice, peace, and liberation.

Welcome! Modern Marimba is a nonprofit arts hub based in Sarasota, Florida that celebrates equity through music of the marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, lanat, gyil, marimba de chonta, electronic marimba, and similar mallet percussion instruments.

You may be asking yourself: what’s a marimba?

Modern Marimba was created in 2019 by musician Tihda Vongkoth. She loved playing marimba in high school and college, but there were only a few opportunities to hear mallet percussion music outside of academia. After realizing a need for curating performances and educational programs by and for BIPOC, Queers, and women/femmes, she organized a house concert with marimbist Michael Jones in Sarasota for her neighbors, friends, and the general public.

Understanding the impact Modern Marimba had on the ability to connect and unite people all around the world during the first year of the pandemic, Tihda realized she needed a partner to help move the mission forward. She reached out to composer and performer Steph Davis, a marimbist from Orlando/Boston, who was supportive and excited to join Modern Marimba as a co-founder!

From these humble beginnings, Modern Marimba has since collaborated with local Sarasota organizations such as The Newtown Nation, Westcoast Black Theater Troupe, Manasota Anti-Racism Coalition, WSLR, FabAF Foundation, ALSO Youth, WEDU PBS, Community Foundation of Sarasota, the Patterson Foundation, and The Bay Sarasota.

Many of Modern Marimba’s in-person performances are free to the public, as we are committed to accessibility in community listening spaces. Modern Marimba also continues to present virtual music programs involving arts workers, students, and audiences from Sarasota and from an international community. This affirms the importance of building connections through diversity.

As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, Modern Marimba relies on generous donations and grants to sustain its activities. We also seek to participate in the lifelong process of learning by offering educational music programs. We hope to mutually benefit as we support and guide creative, resilient, and intelligent musicians.

Our Commitment to Justice

MODMA is committed to collaborating with grassroots organizations and environmental justice groups that advocate for sustainability.

Southwest Florida is an area currently colonized and occupied; it was formerly inhabited by the Calusa, Tocobaga, and Seminole Indigenous peoples and was also once inhabited by an Angolan community of maroons. Modern Marimba shares in the responsibility to honor our land, air, and water by raising awareness that returning stewardship back to Indigenous people and traditions is best for our ecosystem.

MODMA stands in solidarity with socially conscious audiences, music creators, composers, improvisers, musicians, artisans, arts leaders, musical instrument manufacturers, performing artists, educators, and students/parents; organizations in mutual aid, human rights, animal rights, social justice, environmental justice, disability justice, LGBTQ2IA+ rights, and especially racial equity; and ethically conscious businesses, supporters and patrons.

Intersectional work is important, so the majority of our partners are communities of people who work in the arts through the lens of social justice. We prioritize our partnerships with people from the following historically marginalized communities:

  • BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) and BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian)
  • LGBTQ2IA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, femmes, and all the many wonderful Queer identities)
  • People with Disabilities, and
  • Women (trans, nonbinary, cis, femme, and all!)

Read our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion policy.

Read our Equity Guidelines for Donors and Foundations.

Definitions

Modern Marimba offers the definitions below to clarify its intent to include individuals and organizations in ways that enable us to feel a sense of belonging to our community.

Anti-Racism is the practice of recognizing and actively opposing racism in society with the goal of promoting racial equity.

Belonging refers to the support, feeling of connectedness, and experience of community among peers and colleagues within our organization. Belonging is a process of building a foundation through diversity, equity, and inclusive practices that cultivates community.

Diversity refers to group social differences such as race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender preferences, country of origin, dis/ability, cultural, political, religious, or any group affiliations.

Equity means acknowledging and making adjustments to address the consequences of a long history of prejudice and discriminatory treatment that continues and has a negative impact on Black, Brown, Indigenous, and marginalized communities.

Inclusive practices are those that include an active, intentional, meaningful, and equitable engagement across the diversity of the Sarasota community. Recognizing our diversity while meaningfully engaging it facilitates greater awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the complex ways individuals engage within systems and institutions. Building these skills and abilities among individual members will begin to address past injustices and lay a strong foundation for equitable success for individuals and organizations and, as a consequence, our nation and the global communities where we work.

Social justice has several elements that affect many areas of public policy and public administration; it is fair treatment of all people in a society, including respect for the rights of people who have been marginalized and the equitable distribution of resources among members of a community; it is fairness manifested in society through healthcare, gender equality, reproductive rights, education, employment, and voting; and it imposes personal responsibility to collaborate with others to thrive and inspire change towards peace.