Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer shines light on the arts in D.C.

WASHINGTON – A federal program that has been in effect since 2012 is growing, and celebrities are using their spotlight to move it forward.

The Turnaround Arts initiative is a public-private partnership designed to funnel money into low-performing schools for arts and music education.

It started with eight schools and is now expanding to 35schools nationwide.

“I probably wouldn’t have graduated and gone on to have a career in music if it wasn’t for arts in school,” says Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Smith is among many celebrity mentors who, under the program, travel to the schools and work with students.

“When you do well in music and art, it just motivates you to want to excel in other areas,” Smith said in an interview with WTOP.

Smith made a stop in D.C. this week for a Turnaround Arts event at the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

He also went to Capitol Hill to speak to House Speaker John Boehner, among others, about the importance of arts in education.

From the nation’s capital, Smith is heading to New York City for an appearance on Thursday’s “The Tonight Show.” He will participate in a charity “drum-off” with actor Will Ferrell, to whom he famously bears a striking resemblance.

“I think we’re both going to have drum sets and we’re going to go at it back and forth,” said Smith. “I’m sure some sort of entertainment with ensue, but I’m taking him down.”

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