A Conversation with Detroit Arts Leaders
How arts entrepreneurs are shaping the post-COVID world
Join two of Detroit’s most interesting arts leaders, MacArthur Fellows Aaron Dworkin (founder of Sphinx) and Yuval Sharon (Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Theatre) along with moderator Jaemi Loeb (Senior Director of Cultural Arts) for a fascinating discussion about how the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of the region’s arts scene is already shaping the post-COVID landscape.Watch Live Event
Yuval Sharon is the Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director of the Michigan Opera Theatre. Described by The New York Times as “opera’s disrupter in residence,” director Yuval Sharon has an unconventional body of work that seeks to expand the operatic form. In 2017, he was honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Art grant for theater.
Yuval founded and serves as Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles, a company devoted to new and experimental opera that has brought opera into moving vehicles, operating train stations, Hollywood sound stages, and various “non-spaces” such as warehouses, parking lots, and escalator corridors. Sharon conceived, directed, and produced the company’s acclaimed world premieres of Sweet Land, Hopscotch, Invisible Cities, and Crescent City. He also devised and directed the company’s two “performance installations”: In C at the Hammer Museum and Nimbus at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Sharon is the recipient of the 2014 Götz Friedrich Prize in Germany for his production of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, originally produced at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe and later presented in Seville’s Teatro de la Maestranza. He also directed a landmark production of John Cage’s Song Books at the San Francisco Symphony and Carnegie Hall with Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk, and Jessye Norman. His 2016 production of Peter Eötvös’s Three Sisters at the Wiener Staatsoper led Opernwelt to call him “one of the most interesting arrivals on the musical landscape.” His production of Cunning Little Vixen, originally produced at the Cleveland Orchestra, was the first fully-staged opera ever presented in Vienna’s Musikverein in October 2017. In 2018 Sharon became the first American director at the Bayreuther Festspiele with his production of Lohengrin.
From 2016-2019, Sharon was the first Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, creating nine projects that included newly commissioned works, site-specific installations, and performances outside the hall. The culmination of his residency was a major revival of Meredith Monk’s opera ATLAS, which made him the first director Monk entrusted with a new production of her work. Other projects included an original setting of War of the Worlds; a staging of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Gustavo Dudamel; and rare stagings of Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar and John Cage’s Europeras 1 & 2.
Aaron P. Dworkin is a Social Entrepreneur, Filmmaker, Performing Artist, Philanthropist and Professor in both the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts and member of President Biden’s Arts Policy Committee, Aaron is the founder of The Sphinx Organization, the leading arts organization with the mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. He also serves as host of the nationally-broadcast Arts Engines show which reaches a weekly audience of over 100,000 in collaboration with Detroit Public Television, Ovation TV, The Violin Channel and American Public Media including Performance Today and YourClassical. As a best-selling writer, Aaron’s most recent books include: The Entrepreneurial Artist: Lessons from Highly Successful Creatives, Ethos: Rise of Malcolm (a science-fiction novel), Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee’s Journey to Leadership (a memoir).
As a lifelong musician, Aaron has collaborated with a breadth of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Damien Sneed, Anna Deveare Smith, Damian Woetzel, Lil Buck and others. Aaron is also a visual artist, an award-winning filmmaker, and record producer. His work has been featured in media such as People Magazine, NBC, CNN, The New York Times, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Washington Post, and was named one of Newsweek’s “15 People Who Make America Great.”
A sought-after global thought leader and a passionate advocate for excellence in arts education, entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as inclusion in the performing arts, Aaron is a frequent keynote speaker at national and global conferences including the Aspen Ideas Conference, Americans for the Arts, and the Chautauqua Institution. He has given commencement addresses at the Curtis Institute of Music, University of Michigan, Longy Conservatory, and Bowling Green State University.
Aaron has strong interests in politics, innovation, creativity, and issues of economic and social justice. In addition to various genres of music and disciplines of the performing arts, he enjoys travel, movies, and the culinary arts. He is married to Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, a prominent international arts leader who serves as President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization and has two awesome sons, Noah Still and Amani Jaise.