Mission, History and Awards
COMPAS delivers creative experiences that unleash the potential within all of us.
Minnesota thrives when all of us have access to creative opportunities that enrich lives and communities.
1968 - The National Endowment for the Arts reached out to Molly LaBerge (now Molly Taylor), to create a pilot program connecting high school classes with living, breathing, professional poets. Poets in the Schools is born.
1974 - The organization incorporated and was renamed COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts) and we to broadened our repertoire of arts to include theatre, music, drama, visual art, spoken word among others. Our program became a model for teaching artist residencies nationwide.
2009 - COMPAS merged with Young Audiences of MN.
Today - Our artist roster boasts 100+ professional musicians, visual artists, performers, writers and the like. COMPAS has become an experienced innovator in the field of creative, art-filled learning for people of all ages, and has been recognized for excellence from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and the Minnesota Department of Education.
Some of our first poets included John Caddy, Roy McBride, and Garrison Keillor, who later testified before Congress that working for the Poets in the Schools program was the first time he was paid for his poetry work.
In the early days, some principals were hesitant to allow our artists and their then-considered-blatant expressions of rebellion (beards, cowboy boots) into classrooms. We’ve since won them over.
Over the years, COMPAS artists have worked side by side with over 2 million kids and countless adults, teaching them how to find their inner voice, to write poems, paint pictures, create sculptures, improvise music, tile a mosaic, and so on and in We were recently recognized nationally as an exemplary provider of arts education programs.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities named COMPAS as an exemplary arts education organization in its report, “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.”
COMPAS artist Anne Krocak and residents from Oak Meadows Senior Living Center won the Grand Prize in the 2014 national Senior Living Art Showcase competition sponsored by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) for the mosaic they created together titled "Memory Garden Mosaic." The mosaic now welcomes visitors to Oak Meadows' memory garden.
In 2012, COMPAS was ranked #6 by Philanthropedia (a division of Guidestar) on the list of high impact Minnesota non-profits for providing access to the arts.
The International Academy of Design & Health honored Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota along with its arts partners (including COMPAS) with the top award for "Use of Art in the Patient Environment."