First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Turnaround Arts Expansion

WASHINGTON, (FNN NEWS) — Today, students from Turnaround Arts schools nationwide performed for First Lady Michelle Obama, their peers, and artist mentors at the White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show to showcase the power of arts education. First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the show announcing an expansion to the thriving Turnaround Arts program, and a strategic partnership between the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that will ensure that Turnaround Arts continues to thrive for years to come.

Students from Hawai’i and California to New York and D.C. sang, danced, played music, and performed spoken word alongside their Turnaround Artist mentors including Keb’ Mo’, Tim Robbins, Bernie Williams, Damian Woetzel, Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, Paula Fuga, Irvin Mayfield, and more.

“President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has made reinvesting in arts education- particularly in America’s struggling schools a primary focus,” said the President’s Committee Co-Chairs George Stevens, Jr. and Margo Lion. “The Committee’s renowned Turnaround Arts program shows that our most fragile schools can be transformed through an infusion of the arts.”

Turnaround Arts, a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, empowers high-need, low-performing schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs, arts integration across subject areas, art supplies, musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors, as a strategy to help close the achievement gap and provide equitable access to arts education.

At today’s talent show, the First Lady announced that Turnaround Arts would expand to now reach 68 schools (see full list of Turnaround Arts expansion schools and new artist mentors below) in 15 states and the District of Columbia at the start of the next school year. Wisconsin and North Dakota schools will join the program as new states, while Turnaround Arts: California, Minnesota and New Orleans will add new schools to existing local programs. Artists including Usher, Taylor Hawkins, Smokey Robinson, Kendrick Lamar, Whoopi Goldberg, Joshua Bell, Dave Matthews, Ledisi Young and more were announced as new Turnaround Artists, who will each mentor an expansion Turnaround Arts school.

“The arts are central to who we are as a people, and they are central to the success of our kids. This is not an afterthought,” said President Obama, speaking at the inaugural 2014 White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show. “This is not something you do because it’s kind of nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts.”

The First Lady also announced a new strategic partnership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to implement Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center as the Obama administration comes to a close. The new partnership will help realize the President’s Committee’s vision for expanding Turnaround Arts and aligns with the Kennedy Center’s more than 40-year legacy of providing high-quality arts education programming across the nation.

The White House Turnaround Arts Talent show opened with the world premiere of a new music video featuring thousands of Turnaround Arts students from across the country alongside Turnaround Artists including Jack Johnson, Chad Smith, Jason Mraz, Elizabeth Banks, Tim Robbins, Yo-Yo Ma, Keb’ Mo’, Josh Groban, Bernie Williams, Misty Copeland, Paula Abdul, Trombone Shorty, Alfre Woodard, Citizen Cope, Doc Shaw, Frank Gehry, John Lloyd Young, Carla Dirlikov and more. In the video, produced by Playing for Change, students and their artist mentors sing, play and dance to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” making the case that all people deserve to experience the power of arts and music in school. The video will debut widely on May 26, 2016.

Turnaround Arts started in 2012 as a pilot program in eight schools to test the findings of a 2011 President’s Committee report titled Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools. Research conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute on the pilot program revealed an average 12.6% improvement in reading proficiency and 22.5% improvement in math proficiency—more than similar schools not using the arts—as well as increases in attendance and significant decreases in suspensions following Turnaround Arts’ infusion of the arts into struggling schools.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which President Obama signed into law in December 2015, provides funding and guidance to include the arts and music as part of a “well-rounded” education. “This year’s White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show is a celebration; now all struggling schools, through ESSA, have the opportunity to put the arts back into education and transform their schools,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College and Vice Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Turnaround Arts’ private-public partnership structure will continue to ensure the future of Turnaround Arts, as the program transitions to the Kennedy Center. As of today, the Herb Alpert Foundation, and The Rosenthal Family Foundation have already pledged their support moving forward. Turnaround Artist mentors are also pledging to continue their critical work into the future as the program continues to grow beyond the end of the Obama administration.

New Turnaround Artist Mentors joining the program in 2016:

David Brooks
Johnny Nunez
Taylor Hawkins
Lil Buck
Whoopi Goldberg
Kendrick Lamar
Autumn de Forest
Jacqueline Suskin
Dave Matthews
Paula Fuga
Ledisi Young
Graham Nash
Sara Bareilles
Usher Raymond
Valerie June
Joshua Bell
Smokey Robinson
Larisa Martinez
Jackson Browne

2016 New Regions and Expansion Schools:
Milwaukee Public Schools (new region)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, 3275 N 3rd St.
Franklin Pierce Elementary, 2765 N Fratney St.
Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts, 800 W Walnut St.
Sherman Multicultural Arts School, 5110 W Locust St.

North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (new region)
Solen Middle School, Solen, ND
Cannon Ball Elementary, Cannon Ball, ND
Standing Rock/Fort Yates Middle School, Fort Yates, ND
Standing Rock/Fort Yates Elementary School, Fort Yates, ND

California Expansion Schools
Sierra Preparatory Academy, Santa Ana, CA
Frances E. Willard Intermediate School, Santa Ana, CA
Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Seaside, CA
Costaño Elementary School, East Palo Alto, CA
Whaley Middle School, Compton, CA

Minnesota Expansion Schools
Cityview Community School, Minneapolis, MN
I.J. Holton Intermediate School, Austin, MN
Riverside Central Elementary School, Rochester, MN
Stonebridge World School, Minneapolis, MN

New Orleans Expansion School
Dolores T. Aaron Academy Middle School, New Orleans, LA

Nationally, Turnaround Arts is made possible through the collaboration of government agencies, non-profit partners, and generous corporate and private donations.

National partners in Turnaround Arts include the U.S. Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the Keith Haring Foundation, Crayola, the NAMM Foundation, Music Theatre International, the AOL Charitable Foundation, JCPenney Cares, Little Kids Rock, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, the Laird Norton Family Foundation, iTheatrics, and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. The program is administered in partnership with Americans for the Arts. Local program partners include: Academy of Urban School Leadership, Chicago, IL; Bridgeport Public Schools, Bridgeport, CT; Broward County Public Schools, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines, IA; District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee Public Schools, WI; Fund for Public Schools, New York City, NY; ReNEW Schools, New Orleans, LA; North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, ND; Hawai’i Arts Alliance, Honolulu, HI; Perpich Center for Arts Education, Golden Valley, MN; and Turnaround Arts: California, Los Angeles, CA.

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