By Timothy Allen McDonald
31 May 2014
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
In truth, the President himself didn't call, but Kathy Fletcher, from the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities and the National Director of Turnaround Arts did. Turnaround Arts uses the arts to increase student engagement and improve the culture and climate in the country's highest poverty schools. Each participating school is mentored by a high-profile artist, and the first cycle of the program was so successful that it is being expanded from eight schools to 35.
Our Presidential musical theatre mission was a two-parter: 1) To help prepare art mentor Sarah Jessica Parker and her girls from the Martin Luther King Junior School in Portland, OR, to perform "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile" from Annie Jr. and 2) To assist students from a school located on a Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Lame Deer, MT. Before Turnaround Arts, these kids didn't even have a music teacher, and now they were slated to perform a spoken word and percussion piece with their art mentor, the Silk Road Ensemble.
And where were these performances taking place? At a first-ever student talent show in the East Room of the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. No pressure.
It was good advice, as nerves were certainly present in the moments before our kids performed in the East Room of the White House. The girls were fine; me and my team? To quote Mr. Sondheim, we were "excited and scared."Continued...