April 2016 Newsletter: Direct from Our Director

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  • March 25, 2016
March 25, 2016  -   Posted To:   Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Since our last newsletter was shared, we welcomed Megan Beyer as the new Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). Megan’s background in policy, education, and the arts make her an invaluable asset to our team. When not offering insightful political commentary, she champions efforts to improve early childhood learning and spearheads leadership initiatives to ensure women are represented in the workforce. The work she has done compliments and bolsters the amazing projects sponsored by the President’s Committee. Since working at PCAH, you can regularly hear her exclaim after meetings and phone calls, “man, oh man, have I inherited a Porsche?!” She is committed to our mission and her enthusiasm for Turnaround Arts is infectious. To learn more about her, read this press release or visit her website.

Witnessing the learning taking place in our schools, it is hard not to be struck with joy. I have the great fortune to be able to visit schools, meet students, and see beautiful displays of learning not only in classrooms but in hallways – the very same hallways that, to be honest, used to be bare and drab. It is without a doubt that this creative and supportive environment positively influences students. While visiting San Diego, a principal showed me a stack of disciplinary referrals from a previous year. Yet, this year there was no stack; there were only three referrals. The results continue to prove our hypothesis that the arts, when successfully integrated, are a powerful motivator.

Our National Partners and Turnaround Artists are a wonderful help in this regard and find great ways to interact with our students. Crayola and the NAMM Foundation flood our schools with supplies and resources. AOL Cares teamed up with students to dream up a new mural for Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Compton, California. And the learning our students are doing is not limited to the walls of a school building. Recently, in Hawai`i, Turnaround Artist Jack Johnson and his students got down and dirty outside and tried their hands at composting. Our artists have been incredible advocates for the program, and Chad Smith very generously hosted 30 artists at his house in preparation for a secret project. Stay tuned for more details about that, but in great news that I can share, super talented musicians Ledisi, Esperanza Spalding, and Keb’ Mo’ have joined our family!

Headshot 2We continue to grow in order to bring the arts to as many children as possible. We are thrilled to announce the addition of our new program coordinator, Jonae Davis. She comes to us after completing a master’s in arts management from American University and after working with a consulting firm, The Cultural Planning Group, to develop a strategic plan for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.Jonae has a passion for equality and a love of music. She will be responsible for artist coordination, in-house travel, and social media efforts. Please join us in welcoming her to the Turnaround Arts community.

We are grateful for your continued support and thank you for being a part of our family.

Warm regards,

Kathy and the Turnaround Arts Team