Diversity in the Performing Arts and SphinxCon!

Sep 24, 2012 | Events

Artists Make Archives Make Artists Ex: CBMR Recording Series

I know that the CBMR is honored to be a founding partner of SphinxCon, a national conference focused on issues of diversity in the arts developed and hosted by Aaron Dworkin’s Sphinx Organization. Speaking from a personal point of view, however, I am honored, excited, and hopeful. A conference of this type and scope is long overdue and it’s great to be included among such an impressive roster of speakers (Actor Delroy Lindo and author Farai Chideya will be featured speakers!).

I am always inspired by the inventiveness and resilience of so-called culturally-specific performing arts organizations like those whose work I have experienced since I’ve been in Chicago. The Chicago festivals, service organizations, small non-profits, collectives, but also even the well-known organizations like Muntu Dance Theatre, The Black Ensemble Theater, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and the Chicago Sinfonietta  must put the best creative thinking and improvisational skills to work daily in the face of fundraising, audience development, programming and other challenges. My own sense is that national conversations about “diversity in the arts” can be linear or one dimensional, rarely tapping into the genius of these practical knowledges around what actually does and does not work. I think SphinxCon will provide space to deepen and enrich the conversation. My hope is that in addition to the “clean” space of  individual programmatic, educational, and outreach case studies, SphinxCon will also encourage and enable the productively “dirty” spaces of really grappling with how we can (must) better collaborate, support each other’s work, and build better infrastructure.

I don’t yet know what exactly my talk will be but I am playing with the following title: “Artists make archives make artists: Why we must move beyond simple support towards deeper collaboration.” I hope to contribute to the dirty space at SphinxCon!




  1. SphinxCon 2013 places spotlight on diversity in the arts
    February 21, 2013

    […] deciding which ones to carry with me and which to leave behind, I am glad that I heard them all. As Monica O’Connell of the Center for Black Music Research said in her presentation: “A conference of this type […]

    • Monica
      February 22, 2013

      Thanks Sarah Perry Wilson of FundWrite for the pingback and for your terrific post on SphinxCon. Perhaps a better way to look at it is that the inaugural conference was not overdue but was instead right on time! Now the challenge is to instill our actions going forward with a sense of urgency…


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