Turnaround Arts CA Media Contact: Lynn M. Selich (310) 968-4678 President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Launches ‘Turnaround Arts’ at Special White House Ceremony Hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama Los Angeles, CA – May 20, 2014 – For distinguished arts education advocates Frank Gehry and Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, their arrival today in Washington, D.C. signals a new day, and renewed hope, for ten California elementary schools among the lowest performing in the state. Gehry and Feruzzi Shriver are headed to the White House to take part in the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) launch being hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The First Lady will welcome state affiliates to the Turnaround Arts program of which a handful of states were accepted, with California having the largest statewide affiliate program to date. Turnaround Arts is a public-private partnership launched by the White House in 2012 designed to help failing schools develop and implement high quality arts education that will be used specifically to effectively address and turnaround the pervasive and persistent problems found in high-poverty, chronically underperforming schools. By using the arts as a tool in failing schools’ turnaround efforts, students are strategically engaged while they learn 21st century skills critical to their success. Gehry, the award-winning, world-renowned architect has been a key Turnaround Arts CA investor from the organization’s inception and will be an artist mentor for one of the ten chosen schools. Along with Feruzzi Shriver, Executive Director of Turnaround Arts CA, the two are spearheading the ambitious statewide initiative in California as an affiliate of the PCAH national program. Other well-known celebrities committed to be an artist mentor of a California school include Jason Mraz, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Frank Gehry, Rashida Jones, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Marc Anthony, Tim Robbins, Chad Smith and Russell Simmons. “Every child should have access to art and creativity in school. No matter what career path they choose, this creative play sets them up to trust their instincts, believe in themselves and to solve problems,” says Gehry. “I was afforded this as a child, and it changed my life.” Turnaround Arts CA is unique in the nation due to the fact that they are working with schools throughout the entire state, not just one region. These are schools that are located in both urban and rural areas and that have a high level of student diversity. The ten schools chosen for the California are located in varying geographic areas across the state and selected based on criteria that placed them within the required 5 percent range of the most challenged in the country. School locations include Kings, San Bernardino, Alameda, San Diego, Los Angeles, Monterey, Humboldt, Jan Joaquin and Contra Costa counties. The superintendants and principles of each school also flew to Washington, D.C. for the launch ceremonies. It has been proven that by placing the arts as the heart and soul of a school, leadership and teachers are provided with powerful tools in professional learning, curriculum development, improving school climate and culture, as well as increasing student and parent engagement that ultimately contributes to improved academic achievement and the successful turnaround of a failing school. There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the positive effect of arts engagement on students. This is particularly important in a state like California where the arts play a significant role in the “creative economy.” “This isn’t about bringing painting or music lessons to an already failing school and hoping for new and improved outcomes,” says Dr. James Catterall, Professor Emeritus, UCLA and Director of the Centers for Research on Creativity. “This is about the arts as ways of thinking, problem solving, and creative design.” Catterall goes on to note that, “There is substantial evidence that learning in the arts promotes many skills including reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Just as important, the arts boost engagement in school, students’ sense of agency, self-confidence, collaboration skills, and even pro-social behavior and empathy. If schools embark on turnarounds, why not promote a full spectrum of qualities we’d like to see in our children.” The Turnaround Arts program successes are based around specific pillars. These include school principal leadership; the use of arts specialists to customize strategic tactics to be used by non-arts classroom teachers in core curricula; using teaching artists and community organizations to engage students; designing professional development for the teaching staff; and improving the school environment overall. The initial funding for Turnaround Arts CA was generously provided by the California Arts Council, with additional funding by Eisner Foundation, Frank Gehry, Herb Alpert Foundation, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Nigel Lythgoe, Rosenthal Family Foundation, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Turnaround Arts CA is also a new partner of CREATE CA ( For more information about the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities visit


First Lady Michelle Obama to Officiate at White House Ceremonies Which Will Stream Live on, May 20, 2014 at 2:30 PM Eastern AVAILABLE FOR LIVE OR TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS IN LOS ANGELES: •Frank Gehry, World-Renowned Architect, artist mentor, Turnaround Arts CA investor •Tim Robbins, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter, director, producer, musician and Turnaround Arts CA supporter and artist mentor •Dr. James Catterall, Professor Emeritus, UCLA and Director of the Centers for Research on Creativity, Turnaround Arts CA supporter and advisor •Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Executive Director, Turnaround Arts CA •Wylie Aitken, Chair, California Arts Council •Various California School Superintendents and Principals from the 10 chosen schools participating in the Turnaround Arts CA program


Participating schools were competitively selected by Turnaround Arts CA in consultation with the California Department of Education, according to national guidelines. Selection criteria included demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership with district support and a commitment to arts education. Turnaround Arts schools represent elementary schools from across California and encompass a diversity of student demographics and urban and rural settings. Avenal Elementary, Kings County Barton Elementary, San Bernardino County Burbank Elementary, Alameda County Burbank Elementary, San Diego County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Los Angeles County El Camino Real Science and Technology Academy, Monterey County Hoopa Valley Elementary, Humboldt County John C. Fremont Elementary, San Joaquin County Meadow Homes Elementary, Contra Costa County Warren Lane Elementary, Los Angeles County


California Artists: Jason Mraz, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Frank Ghery, Rashida Jones, Russell Simmons, Tim Robbins, Chad Smith, Marc Anthony “Without public school music education I would not have been able to realize my dream and my career path. I am a professional musician today because of the music classes I had access to all throughout my public school experience. I’m living proof it works!” -Chad Smith “I’m humbled by the opportunity to support and represent a school in our country and my local community that will greatly benefit from the support of a vibrant arts education program. The arts are the key to life and the Turnaround Arts program will open the doors for youth to life, love, creativity and endless imagination.” -Jason Mraz “Ever since I can remember, the arts have played a critical role in my self-expression and in shaping me into the person I have become. I am excited to partner with Turnaround Arts to help ensure that local arts programs continue to thrive across America, giving kids like me the ability to express themselves freely.” -Jesse Tyler Ferguson “I was lucky enough to grow up with music in my home and my school. It is still an enormous part of my life. People tend to think of music programs in public schools as an elective, something easily disposed of. But the truth is music is essential and primordial to our humanity. Music can create an emotional, psychological and eventual professional outlet for so many young people.” -Rashida Jones “Every child should have access to art and creativity in school. No matter what career path they choose, this creative play sets them up to trust their instincts, believe in themselves and solve problems. I was afforded this as a child and it changed my life.” -Frank Gehry “I am deeply honored to be part of President Obama’s Turnaround Arts initiative,” says Russell Simmons. “For over a decade I have worked to bring the arts to deserving yet often overlooked public school students. Partnering with the White House to help fill this void means even more of our youth will be able to flex their creative muscles and imagine a better future for themselves.” -Russell Simmons See video:
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