Dworkin: American orchestras must actively seek out minority musicians

Posted on: October 9, 2013

“Aaron Dworkin, the president and founder of the nonprofit Sphinx Organization, offered a stinging critique of the orchestra field in a speech Tuesday night at Carnegie Hall, saying that symphonies aren’t doing nearly enough to diversify their ranks through recruitment or fellowship programs,” writes Brian Wise at WQXR’s blog on Wednesday (10/9). “Noting that 4 percent of orchestra players in the U.S. are black and Latino, Dworkin said that major ensembles routinely hold auditions without actively reaching out to identify candidates of color…. Dworkin called on every American orchestra to devote 5 percent or more of its budget to diversity initiatives and establish measurements for success. He also urged grant-making organizations to tie funding to improvements in minority recruitment. The Sphinx Organization … provides instruments and free training to black and Latino musicians. Many of its alumni have gone on to careers as soloists and chamber musicians. But comparably few have become full-time symphony members…. Ultimately, funders have the means to affect change, said Dworkin. ‘Of the over 2 billion dollars given to the arts in this country, not enough is specifically targeted to benefit underserved communities.… The philanthropic community needs to … provide major funding to new partners if they hope to realize the change they seek.”

Posted October 9, 2013