Harpists Angelica Hairston and Elizabeth Steiner will be participants in the Sphinx Organization’s inaugural program, SphinxLEAD. Created to empower arts leaders of color in the United States, the program offers a membership network, a year–round curriculum, and professional advancement opportunities. Hairston, who founded Challenge the Stats, and Steiner, the executive director of the Philadelphia–based Lyra Society, are two of the program’s first 10 cohorts.
“Looking over my career, I can clearly see how impactful mentorship, guidance, and support have been towards helping me become the leader I am today,” Hairston shares. “I am thrilled about being stretched, encouraged, and challenged by the faculty and board of SphinxLEAD, as well as the inaugural class of emerging arts leaders! The track record of work that Sphinx has done and continues to do is incredibly inspiring and motivating.”
Steiner also mentions the inspiration she will draw from the connections. “I am excited to meet other like–minded individuals who are passionate about their work in the arts and in their communities,” she says. Before becoming executive director in 2018, Steiner served as the director of education and as a teaching artist for the program, which was founded by Philadelphia Orchestra principal harpist Elizabeth Hainen in 2004. “As executive director of the Lyra Society, I get to experience the joy, confidence, and enrichment that studying the harp brings to a child’s life every day. Through SphinxLEAD’s thorough curriculum and mentorship program, I hope to gain skills to share our mission and work at the Lyra Society more deeply within the Philadelphia community and to a broader audience on a national level.”
Hairston talks about the need for the classical music industry to evolve, and how she hopes SphinxLEAD will teach new skills as she helps build a more diverse and equitable arts field. “I’m most excited about how SphinxLEAD will equip me with the tools needed to take bolder and more daring steps toward making a long–term difference in the field of classical music.” In addition to her role at Challenge the Stats, which was established in 2016 to showcase and celebrate high–caliber artists of color, Hairston is the artistic director of the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, which provides free harp instruction to over 80 students in Atlanta’s inner city. “This initiative will also provide space to ask tough questions about the realities of our field and the systemic challenges that face classical artists, organizations, educators, and audiences of today,” she adds.
To learn more about Challenge the Stats, read our Q and A with Hairston here. Click here to read more about Steiner’s work with the Lyra Society. And for more information about the newly created SphinxLEAD, visit www.sphinxlead.org.