Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Santa Monica Arts Advocates Take Part in Presidential Program

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

May 21, 2014 – Santa Monica arts education advocates Frank Gehry and Malissa Feruzzi Shriver took part in the expansion of President Barack Obama’s “Turnaround Arts” program during its Tuesday launch event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

Gehry, the award-winning, world-renowned architect, will be an artist mentor for one of the ten chosen schools. Along with Feruzzi Shriver, the two are spearheading the statewide initiative in California as an affiliate of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities’ (PCAH) national program.
“Every child should have access to art and creativity in school,” Gehry said.  “No matter what career path they choose, this creative play sets them up to trust their instincts, believe in themselves and to solve problems. I was afforded this as a child, and it changed my life.”

With the program expanding to ten more California schools, “Turnaround Arts CA,” the state affiliate of the national program, is one of the largest statewide affiliate programs to date.  Gehry is a key investor of “Turnaround Arts CA” since its inception, and Shriver is the lead executive of the organization.

The ten California schools are located across the state and selected based on criteria that placed them within the required 5 percent range of the most challenged in the country. These are schools that are located in both urban and rural areas and that have a high level of student diversity, according to officials.

The schools are located in Kings, San Bernardino, Alameda, San Diego, Los Angeles, Monterey, Humboldt, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties and the superintendents and principals of each school also flew to Washington, D.C. for the launch ceremonies.

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 to address and reverse the persistent problems found in high-poverty, chronically underperforming schools.

A report by the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) called "Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future through Creative Schools," looked at the strengths and weaknesses in arts education and made a strong argument about the vital role of the arts in education, creativity and innovation.

It recommended an expansion of arts education and the "further development of the field of arts integration through strengthening teacher preparation and professional development, targeting available arts funding, and setting up mechanisms for sharing ideas about arts integration through communities of practice."

Eight of the nation's lowest performing schools selected have used the arts and art integration with encouraging results.

As early as November 2013, the committee reported that daily attendance was up and disciplinary incidents down significantly.  

Most schools improved their overall scores in math and reading, and the report said that there were "many hopeful signs about the potential of this work to positively influence student experience, student engagement, school culture, and school outcomes."

By using the arts as a strategic tool in failing schools’ turnaround efforts, students are engaged while they learn 21st century skills critical to their success, according to officials. 

“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.”

In addition to the report by the PCAH, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates the positive effect engaging in the arts has on students. This is particularly important in a state like California where the arts play a significant role in the “creative economy.”

“There is substantial evidence that learning in the arts promotes many skills including reading, writing, mathematics, and science,” Catterall said.

“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.”

Other well-known celebrities committed to be an artist mentor of a California school include Jason Mraz, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Rashida Jones, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Marc Anthony, Tim Robbins, Chad Smith and Russell Simmons.

For more information about the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities visit

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2014 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures