Our Vision and Mission:
We transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

Our Core Values:

Afa S. Dworkin, President and Artistic Director of Sphinx, presents the Sanford Allen Award to violinist Hannah White at Carnegie Hall, 2015. Photo: Nan Melville

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 is Professor for Art Entrepreneurship and Leadership at 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:




  • SphinxConnect (a career marketplace connecting musicians of color and the industry)
  • Sphinx Medals of Excellence (identifying extraordinary artists who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and leadership potential)

Our Name

The name Sphinx was given to the organization to represent some of the founding principles that guided its conception. The Sphinx represents the historical and geographical source for many minorities and exemplifies the power, wisdom and persistence that we hope to instill in our participants.

The Sphinx also constitutes a mystery, an enigma. Music shares this puzzling aspect, as it is born from the experiences and aspirations of the composer as well as the performer. Like the Sphinx, it is up to the beholder, the listener, to interpret and appreciate from the music what is ultimately a reflection of internal emotions and spiritual experiences.

Aaron P. Dworkin founded Sphinx while a graduate student at the University of Michigan, to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music. Pictured here with Stephen Shipps.


Sphinx Organization
400 Renaissance Ctr Ste 2550
Detroit MI 48243
ph: 313-877-9100
fax: 313-887-0164


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