Aaron Dworkin, dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and his wife Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization, will be honored by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with a Kennedy Center Award for the Human Spirit at the annual Kennedy Center Spring Gala, on Monday, May 8, 2017. The awards commemorate the seminal contributions made by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to cultural life in the United States.
The Dworkins will receive the Citizen Artist Award, recognizing leaders who present and produce the arts in their communities, and deepen the effect of the arts and arts education in a demonstrated, transformational way at the local, state, or national level. They are being honored for their work leading and founding the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
Also being honored are Joan and Sanford (Sandy) Weill who will receive the Distinguished Philanthropist Award for a lifetime commitment to and advocacy for the performing arts, recognizing individuals who have had a substantial influence on the broader cultural life of their community and country through both personal commitment and philanthropy.
"We are honored to recognize these four individuals for their work to foster the arts in communities across the country," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. "President Kennedy dreamed of an America that would recognize achievement in the arts and culture, and we are delighted, as his living memorial, to help fulfill his vision by acknowledging the achievements of the 2017 awardees."
One of D.C.'s most anticipated social events of the year, this year's Spring Gala will pay tribute this year to musical icon John Lennon The evening's program, at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, celebrates the legendary late singer's indelible impact on musical history from his skyrocketing start with the Beatles in 1960 through his celebrated and sometimes controversial career as a solo artist until his untimely death in 1980. Hosted by actor David Duchovny, the gala performance features Corinne Bailey Rae, Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin, Amos Lee, Taj Mahal, Steven van Zandt, and Rennie Harris Puremovement.
The Spring Gala is presented as part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy, a yearlong celebration of the Kennedy Center's namesake and what would have been the 1OOth birthday of the 35th President of the United States in May 2017. JFKC incorporates five enduring ideals often ascribed to President Kennedy-Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service, and Gratitude-into the fabric of the Kennedy Center's programming through a series of performances, educational initiatives, and free public events.