Aaron Dworkin (b. 1970)
Founder and President, Sphinx Organization
is featured at AfriClassical.com
as an outstanding
Musician of African Descent
"Being inclusive is possible and it's not rocket science. We're just not doing it." - Aaron Dworkin
As I was writing this piece, I decided that the best way to succinctly put a brilliant, but very complex presentation by Aaron Dworkin of the Sphinx Organization into context was to start with a quote from almost the end of his speech. He states, "My concern for orchestras is not that they are untrue to the music, but that they are incomplete reflections of our art form and the communities in which they reside." Dworkin's statement could apply to many different art forms or institutions here in Rochester and across the country. See the entire speech here, starting at 18:40.
To deliver the gist of Dworkin's SphinxCon 2014 speech, I'll break his presentation into three key areas- the issue, stats and facts, and one possible strategy.
He offered a new set of criteria to replace the current orchestral audition model that he dubbed ACTORS. Dworkin does not think it will be adopted any time soon, but offers this as one of many possible solutions to increase the diversity in American orchestras.
-The A stands for artistic excellence. It should remain as the most critically important criterion in the audition process.
-The C stands for collaborative ability. It is important to know how musicians collaborate with their music director, with each other.
-The T stands for teaching skills.
-The O stands for originality and creativity. There are ways to adjudicate this in the selection process.
-The R stands for repertoire knowledge. Diversity and inclusion does not end with musicians in the orchestra. It should also include the music that is played in the performance programs.
-The S stands for Strategic/Cultural Relevance. After a musician qualifies for all of the first 5 criteria, orchestras need to assess the cultural relevance of a candidate based on its mission and the community in which it exists.