music class
Turnaround Arts: Minnesota


The arts are not something to add in after a school has solved its problems—they are something we can use to help fix them.

About Turnaround Arts

Turnaround Arts: Minnesota is an arts and school improvement program. A good arts program, used strategically, can help target some of the persistent, pervasive problems commonly found in high-poverty, underperforming schools.

Participating schools have demonstrated increased academic achievement, increase student and family engagement, and improved school culture and climate.

Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools started out in the lowest performing five percent of the state, but are working hard to improve and close the achievement gap, using the arts as one of their key tools

Case Studies:

Bethune Elementary School, Minneapolis

Cityview Community School, Minneapolis

Northport Elementary School, Brooklyn Center

Northside Elementary School, St. James

Red Lake Middle School, Red Lake

Riverside Central Elementary School, Rochester

Stonebridge World School, Minneapolis

Helping elementary students

Everything you need to know about this remarkable program.

What is Turnaround Arts: Minnesota?

Turnaround Arts was founded in 2011 under the Obama Administration of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, a White House advisory committee on cultural issues. Now the program is led by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

There are currently 73 Turnaround Arts schools in 17 states across the country and the District of Columbia. Find out more about the national scope here.

In Minnesota, Turnaround Arts is run by Perpich Center for Arts Education. The program works in schools that started out in the lowest performing 5% of the state, but are working hard to improve and close the achievement gap, using the arts as one of their key tools.

What sort of external financial support do Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools receive?

The Minnesota state legislature provided funds for Turnaround Arts: Minnesota from its Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund for school years 2015-16 and 2016-17. The Minnesota State Arts Board has provided grants to schools, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, to support the program in 2015-16. At the outset, each school benefits from national partnerships with leading arts organizations and corporations such as Crayola, National Association of Music Merchants and Music Theater International, receiving about $25K of arts supplies, musical instruments and licenses.

What are the Minnesota Turnaround Arts schools?
In 2014, the following schools became the first Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools:
Bethune Community School, Minneapolis
Northport Elementary School, Robbinsdale
Northside Elementary School, St. James
Red Lake Middle School, Red Lake
Three additional schools have been a part of the initiative since the 2016 – 2017 school year:
Cityview Community School, Minneapolis
Riverside Elementary School, Rochester
Stonebridge World School, Minneapolis
How were the schools selected for Turnaround Arts?

Schools were selected by Perpich Center for Arts Education, according to guidelines and requirements provided by the President’s Committee and the U.S. Department of Education. Requirements included that the schools were Title 1 schools designated as low-performing and that they had a principal interested in using the arts to help school improvement and at least one full-time arts teacher on staff.

How can my school become a Turnaround Arts: Minnesota school?

Every few years, schools designated as Priority (lowest performing 5%) by the Minnesota Department of Education are invited to apply to be a Turnaround Arts: Minnesota school. A selection process was recently concluded in winter 2016. Four new schools will begin work as Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools in the 2016-17 school year.

How does Turnaround Arts actually work?

In order to have the arts impact school improvement, it is crucial to both build a high-quality, integrated arts program, and at the same time, think strategically about how to deploy the arts to tackle large school challenges.

Supporting this work on our schools, the Perpich Center provides:

  • Coaching, resources, and implementation support for:

    • sustainable, whole school change

    • strategic arts planning targeted at specific school challenges

    • curriculum development in and through the arts

    • school culture and climate improvement

    • family engagement

  • Professional development for teachers and administrators

  • Documentation and  sharing of outcomes and best practices

  • Network of schools going through the same improvement process

Who are Minnesota's Turnaround Artists? What do they do in the schools?

The President’s Committee has appointed high-profile artists to “adopt” Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools to support their educational reform efforts.  Minnesota’s artist mentors are: actor Sarah Jessica Parker, singer/songwriter Citizen Cope, actor Doc Shaw, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, painter Autumn DeForest, photographer Johnny Nunez, and dancer Lil’ Buck. At the beginning of the school year, they record morning announcements for everyone coming back to school. They visit the school at least once, and often several times, to work with and learn from students, as well as meet families and the community. They also do things like sponsor arts contests and attend musical performances.

Although the celebrity involvement is just one part of the overall program, it’s been really great to have them involved, and, obviously, it gets the kids and everyone really excited. And it makes them feel special, which is something these students deserve.

What background information is a available to the organizations involved?

Perpich Center for Arts Education is a state agency serving all schools, students and educators in Minnesota. Created in 1985 by the Minnesota state legislature, the agency seeks to advance K-12 education throughout the state by teaching in and through the arts. Perpich staff and faculty experts provide outreach, professional development, research, curriculum and standards development. Perpich is home to a public arts education library and an innovative, two-year, statewide residential high school that serves as a living laboratory for creative development in the arts. Additional information about Perpich is at

Minnesota State Arts Board is a state agency dedicated to ensuring that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to participate in the arts. It receives appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and private sources. The Arts Board offers grants, services and other resources to individuals and organizations to stimulate and encourage the creation, performance and appreciation of the arts in the state. Additional information about the Arts Board can be found online at

What impact has been measured so far?

Participating schools have demonstrated increased academic achievement, increased student and family engagement, and improved school culture and climate. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Please contact Jennifer Raths, Administrative Specialist, at or 763-279-4180.

To learn more about Turnaround Arts at a national level, click on their website: Turnaround Arts