Our History

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.

Our Accomplishments

Internationally-Acclaimed Artistic Excellence


  • Mosaic alumni have garnered Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award
  • Mosaic alumni have graduated from many of the nation’s top colleges and universities, including Juilliard, Yale, NYU, Howard, Berklee College of Music, Moorehouse, Oberlin, Brown, Spellman, 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 and Europe, and twenty-five states throughout the U.S. and Canada, including performances at The White House, the Kennedy Center, the Millennium 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.

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.