Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit was founded in 1992 by Rick Sperling, a professional actor and director. Sperling was inspired to start Mosaic when budget cuts forced most Detroit schools to eliminate arts programs. Through his experiences as a guest artist in the Detroit Public Schools he had witnessed both incredible talent and the incredible need for advanced arts training. As Mosaic progressed over the years, Sperling and his staff observed that participation in program was yielding significant youth development outcomes. In particular, they saw that Mosaic’s insistence on high expectations, active participation and total acceptance of each individual had led to an extraordinary percentage of Mosaic alumni not only graduating from high school, but attending college.
Mosaic’s award-winning programs touch thousands of Detroit young people every year. Mosaic’s advanced Main Stage acting and vocal music companies perform three major productions annually at the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as numerous community performances throughout metro Detroit. Additionally, Mosaic provides beginning “First Stage” and intermediate “Second Stage” programs for hundreds of young people, age 8-18, annually.
Even though Mosaic students are disproportionately minority and from low-income families, over 95% of Mosaic alumni have been admitted to college, dramatically above the national average for young people of similar backgrounds.
Internationally-Acclaimed Artistic Excellence
- Mosaic alumni have been nominated for Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards
- Mosaic alumni have graduated from many of the nation’s top colleges and universities, including The Juilliard School, Yale, NYU, Howard, Berklee College of Music, Moorehouse, Oberlin, Brown, Spelman, and University of Michigan
- Winner of two gold medals and two silver medals at the 2014 World Choir Games in Latvia
- Selected as sole United States representatives to the World Festival of Children’s Theatre in Denmark and the World Festival of Youth Theatre in England.
- Featured on NBC’s Today Show, on NPR’s All Things Considered, in American Theatre Magazine, and in The Wall Street Journal.
- Received numerous major grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts
- Performed with famed acapella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, 70s rock icons Foreigner, and on tour with Josh Groban.
- Performed as opening act for Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger, The Four Tops, Al Green, John Legend and the Temptations
- Presented with the Coming Up Taller Award as one of the nation’s top youth arts programs at a White House ceremony, selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts.
- Performed for President Clinton and President Obama, as well as Vice President Gore and Vice-President Biden
- Toured critically-acclaimed all-youth performances to Africa, Asia, Europe, and twenty-five states throughout the U.S. and Canada, including performances at The White House, the Kennedy Center, the historic Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall Millennium, the Dome in London England, and at Goree Island in Dakar, Senegal.
Detroit Ambassadors, Michigan Model of Success
- Named “Best Managed Nonprofit” by Crain’s Detroit Business.
- Winner of numerous State and Local Awards, including Governors’ Award for Arts and Culture, State of Michigan History Award, Wayne State University Community Leadership Award, and the NCCJ Humanitarian Award.
- Subject of Michigan Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary And They Flew: the Story of Mosaic Youth Theatre.
- Founder Rick Sperling given the Detroit Free Press Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre and named a Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News.
Additional Recent Accomplishments
- In 2019 ‘Hamilton’ producer, Jeffrey Seller gifts $1M to Mosaic Youth Theatre, including funds to establish an endowment.
- In 2019 Mosaic partnered with the Motown Museum to produce “Now That I Can Dance: Motown 1962” an orginal musical about the early days of Motown
- In 2017 Mosaic was hosted by the producers of Hamilton to perform their original production “Let It Shine” at The Public Theater in NYC.
- In 2017 Mosaic young artists were a part of the inaugural Emerging Young Artist Leadership Exchange in San Francisco, CA hosted by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.
- The American Alliance for Theatre and Education awarded Mosaic Youth Theatre the 2005 Ann Flagg Multicultural Award which honors one organization in the U.S. per year that is making significant contributions to the field of theatre/drama for youth dealing with multicultural issues and reaching diverse audiences.
- In 2014, Mosaic represented Detroit at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia and brought back two silver and two gold medals.
- In 1998, Mosaic was awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award for Arts and Culture. Mosaic was one of only three Michigan cultural organizations to receive this award which recognizes organizations who make “outstanding contributions regionally and statewide.”
- Mosaic was presented with the Coming Up Taller Award in 1999 during a ceremony at the White House by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Mosaic is now recognized by MCACA as an Anchor Organization.
- Received the State of Michigan History Award for telling a Detroit story with its 2005 production of Now That I Can Dance – Motown 1962.
- The 2004 William Beckham Humanitarian Award was presented to Mosaic from the National Conference for Community and Justice for The Children of Abraham Project, bringing together Arab-American, Jewish, and African American teens.
- Honored with the 2005 Leonard W. Smith Award for Organizational Excellence by the Youth Sports and Recreation Commission.
- Featured on NBC’s “The Today Show,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and in The Wall Street Journal.
- Mosaic received Crain’s Detroit Business’ Best Managed Nonprofit award.
Your Gift to Transform,
Engage, and Inspire
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit empowers young people to maximize their potential through professional performing arts training and through the creation of theatrical and musical art that engages, transforms and inspires.