An Interview with Afa Dworkin

Arizona State University/HIDA 511: Leadership in the Creative Industries

To know…

The Sphinx Organization is the Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Led by Afa S. Dworkin, its President and Artistic Director, Sphinx programs reach over 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of over two million annually. Afa Dworkin’s work as the organization’s long time Artistic Director, and now President, has been recognized globally. She was named one of the 30 Most Influential People by Musical America, Detroit’s “40 Under 40” by Crain’s Detroit Business, in addition to being a frequent speaker on the importance of inclusion and music education at conferences nationwide and abroad, including the League of American Orchestras, Chamber Music America, Americans for the Arts, International Arts and Ideas Festival and beyond. Ms. Dworkin also serves as faculty for Roosevelt University’s Master’s Program in Performing Arts Administration.

The organization’s founding and mission were informed by the life experiences of Aaron Dworkin, who, as a young Black violinist, was acutely aware of the lack of diversity both on stage and in the audience in concert halls. He founded Sphinx while an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music. President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Aaron P. Dworkin currently serves as dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: education and access; artist development; performing artists; arts leadership.

To discuss…

How does equity and diversity inform or influence your work? How is the work of Afa Dworkin and the Sphinx Organization addressing issues of equity and diversity within our artistic communities? How do you define social entrepreneurship? Are there other arts programs similar to Sphinx?