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Sarah Jessica Parker, others join Obama arts education push

April 25, 2012|By David Ng
  • Students at the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Portland, Ore. It is one of the schools chosen from the Turnaround Arts initiative from the Obama administration.
Students at the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Portland, Ore. It is one… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

The Obama administration has enlisted a handful of prominent screen actors -- including Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker and Alfre Woodard -- to help promote Turnaround Arts, an initiative launched this week to incorporate arts education in troubled schools.

Turnaround Arts is a program from the President's Committee on the Arts. The two-year pilot project has selected eight schools across the country to receive new training for arts educators, art supplies, musical instruments and programs totaling about $1 million per year, according to the Associated Press.

The program is being financed with a mix of public and private money, including funds from the Ford Foundation and the Herb Alpert Foundation.

The AP said the selected elementary and middle schools -- which are among the country's poorest and worst performing -- are located in New Orleans; Denver; Boston; Washington; Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Lame Deer, Mont.

The actors involved in the project will "adopt" certain schools and serve as advocates for the students. In addition to the aforementioned thespians, the two-year program has also drawn support from artist Chuck Close, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and dancer Damian Woetzel, who will also adopt schools.

Turnaround Arts aims to implement change in poor and under-performing schools by integrating arts education in the curriculum.


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