Turnaround Arts: California, a public-private partnership charged with empowering stuggleing schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs, has announced that it will add 10 schools to its statewide network, bringing its total number of elementary and middle schools served to 27 across 20 districts. The expansion is made possible by a $1 million gift from renowned architect Frank Gehry, whose donation has been matched by a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor. Their contributions, in part, enable the program’s most significant expansion since 2014, when Gehry and arts education advocate Malissa Shriver co-founded the California affiliate of the Washington-based, national program.
Local schools participating in the program include McKinley Elementary School in Compton, Janie P. Abbott Elemementary School in Lynwood, Tweedy Elementary School in South Gate, and Frank J. Zamboni Middle School in Paramount.
Turnaround Arts: California will now reach schools serving more than 17,000 K-8 students from historically marginalized communities, using the arts in schools to narrow the opportunity gap, increase student and community engagement, and improve campus culture and climate. Founded as a White House initiative under the leadership of former First Lady Michelle Obama, the program is now run nationally by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The new Turnaround Arts: California partner schools span the state’s diverse rural, suburban, and urban communities, including three schools along the Los Angeles River, as part of the first phase of a project in which Gehry aims to increase cultural, environmental, and educational opportunities in communities across the southern region of the river.
“Seeing the strength and creativity in our Turnaround Arts: California students gives me hope for our future and fuels my own inspiration,l”Ghery said. “Over the last 40 years, I’ve spent time with kids in the classroom using architecture and art to get them engaged, focus their attention, and even introduce mathematics, civics, and other subjects that they might not have otherwise been receptive to. This inspired me to partner with Malissa Shriver on Turnaround Arts: California in order to create the same opportunities for the California students who need it the most.
“Separately, I have been working on the Los Angeles River, and through this work, I have discovered the great need for this program in the districts closest to the river, especially south of the city of Los Angeles,” Ghery continued. “With this in mind, I have pledged to bring our program to ten schools along the Los Angeles River over the next five years. I am very happy to announce the first three of these schools..”
Malissa Shriver, president of Turnaround Arts: California, said, “We have the great privilege of partnering with these new, vibrant school communities across the state in using the arts to help students overcome obstacles and find their authentic voices as creators and scholars. We continue to believe that no achievement gaps exist where opportunity lives.”
Turnaround Arts: California has seen promising results in its existing partner schools:
• English language arts proficiency has increased at 70% of partner schools, by as much as 14%.
• Math proficiency has increased at more than 50% of partner schools, by as much as 15%.
• Arts-integrated instruction has increased student engagement, share 90% of surveyed teachers.
• Attendance is up and suspensions are down at more than 50% of partner schools.
• Arts-rich events have increased family engagement at 100% of partner schools.
Turnaround Arts also helps to supply musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors as a proven strategy to help address broader school challenges and turn them around. Now run nationally by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the program started in 2012 as a pilot program in eight schools to test the findings of a President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities report titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” At the start of the 2018 school year, Turnaround Arts will have impacted and be working with more than 56,000 students in 84 schools across 17 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, Turnaround Arts is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and a collaboration of government agencies, nonprofit partners, and generous corporate and private donations.