Dworkin responds to Bill Maher attack on classical music

Posted on: July 6, 2012

Aaron Dworkin, founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, has written an open letter at the Sphinx website in response to an episode of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher on May 4 in which Maher called for an end to tax breaks for charitable deductions for the arts. Dworkin writes: “Due to not only my role with Sphinx but also as a board member of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, MacArthur Fellow and President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, I felt compelled to draft this response to your commentary.… You … stated that ‘lots of people give money to symphonies … and they get tax deductions for that … but they shouldn’t…. Unlike food and water, access to Mozart is not a basic human necessity.’… I could, of course, provide countless examples of the impact that music education and training has had on, literally, millions of young people in our country.… What would happen if we eliminated the entire NEA, as you suggest, and wiped out the incentives for those with means to give to these programs? Is that really the kind of America in which you want to live?… I think your argument comes down to the age-old issue that I need to raise anytime I speak to a funder about the work of the Sphinx Organization, which addresses the question of ‘if people are hungry or thirsty, why should I give to the arts?’ My response is: first, please do feed the hungry and provide clean water to all. But then, is nothing else of value in our society? Do we seek only a well-fed people with access to water?” Click here to read Dworkin’s essay in Symphony magazine about the critical role of the arts in developing tomorrow’s leaders.

Posted July 6, 2012

Photo of Aaron Dworkin by Glenn Triest