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About the Center


Perpich Center for Arts Education was born as the Minnesota Center for Arts Education in 1985, created by the state legislature at the urging of then Gov. Rudy Perpich. It was renamed in his honor after his death in 1995. Minnesota is one of only a handful of states in the nation with a dedicated state agency supporting arts education.

Our mission is to provide all Minnesota students the opportunity to develop, enhance, and integrate their artistic and academic abilities to their highest potential. We do this by teaching in and through the arts.

We teach in our two-year arts high school. We also teach through our professional development and resource programs. We support teaching art and arts integration through the extensive arts education material in our library. 

The center has helped to shape the Minnesota Academic Standards in the Arts K-12, collaborated with the Board of Teaching to develop teaching licenses in the arts areas, and provided professional development for teachers around the state so they are able to teach the standards, assess student learning, and incorporate community resources into the schools. As a state agency, we work collaboratively with state government, school districts, and arts organizations throughout Minnesota and with communities and businesses interested in promoting arts education.

Our work happens on our campus in Golden Valley as well as through our regional centers in Elk River, Albert Lea, and Duluth school districts and in individual districts and communities that request our support. We develop and support education in and through the arts because the arts are a driving force in Minnesota’s economy, quality of life, and its national and international reputation. Our work increases student performance, raises standardized test scores, and leads to a better-educated and innovative workforce to support the continued arts and economic vitality of Minnesota.

Our students regularly:

  • have a graduation rate of 94-100%
  • are annually awarded $3-$6 million in scholarships
  • attend higher educational institutions directly after high school at a rate of 60-65%

In addition, the Perpich Center professional development and research programs:

  • have increased student engagement in classrooms 4.4 times over regular classrooms using arts integration
  • strengthen achievement in Minnesota schools by providing teachers with ongoing professional development and updated teacher practices
  • create sustainable value in local districts by enhancing teacher performance, standards-based learning, and providing curriculum resources
  • provide ongoing classes, workshops, consulting services, grants, and connections to resources in arts education and core academic subjects
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Arts Education: A Basic Right for All

Arts education in Minnesota is a basic educational right for all Minnesota children—not just the gifted, or the talented, or the economically advantaged. It has a very strong grounding in state statutes and rules. Minnesota needs to ensure that equity and access to arts education is available to all Minnesota students.


The Perpich community is broad and deep. The most visible group within Perpich is our high school student body, which is small, tight-knit, and supportive.

Our instructors—both in the high school and those doing professional development with districts and schools throughout Minnesota—provide the knowledge and framework to advance our understanding of learning in and through the arts.

The Perpich librarians maintain and improve the collections of books and materials in use by teachers and teaching artists statewide.

Critical to Perpich’s health and longevity are the student families, staff, managers, and state legislature as well as our community partners and foundation supporters.

Together, we work in concert to learn, teach, support, and promote the arts in Minnesota.

"Knowing that our music staff is a couple of stages behind our art staff, we wanted them to have the benefit of seeing where our journey in curriculum and aligning standards has taken us so far in the art department. It was one of those moments where you feel that warm glow and that inner 'Hey, this is exactly what we were hoping for all of our work.' It gave the music staff a template of where they can go next. It was such a great feeling to have it all there in a collection of documents, clear, concise, and just want we needed."

Jennifer Olson, Rochester Elementary Visual Arts Partners

"The workshop helped to morph my classroom into a space where students were more engaged, respected, and included in the learning process."

Albert Lea Senior High School English and Journalism teacher

"Perpich Center has provided teachers and students in my district, in addition to others from across the state, with a myriad of valuable opportunities for both growth and professional collaboration that are simply not readily available anywhere else in the state of Minnesota."

Anoka High School Art Department Chair

"The professional development arm of Perpich has led the state in its investigation of what quality art making is and why it matters to our state, kids, and future…all things must be made, making requires creative and critical thinking. Our state must continue to support the future - which will come through the creative professions and their invention."

Foundation Studies Chair, Coordinator of Teaching Artist Programming, College of Visual Arts

"The program transformed my teaching. The way the program taught us by having us experience the lessons ourselves, the way Perpich treated us like professionals, the way Perpich worked from where we were as teachers and moved us forward to encourage ultimate growth was the best experience I have ever had in professional development!"

Moreland Magnet Facilitator, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools (District 197)

"Perpich Center is able to reach every child in this state via the rigorous professional development that they provide teachers, districts, and communities."

Vocal Music and Fine Arts Coordinator, Washburn High School, Instructor of Secondary Choral Methods, St. Olaf College, Northfield

"Our students have access through PALS (the inter-library loan system) to get materials for instruction. Research and best practices in art education come from Perpich. It is Perpich Center that provides the leadership in implementing the art standards in K-12 schools."

Kathryn Gainey, Professor of Art, St. Cloud State University

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