Get to Know Upturn Arts’ Special Projects Director Kirkland Green

By: Adrianna Goldman, Cole Beeks, and Harrison Gerber

Upturn Arts is a nonprofit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that is dedicated to providing arts education and creative opportunities to children in underserved communities. Through a variety of programs, and community events, Upturn Arts seeks to foster creativity, self-expression, and confidence in children of all backgrounds. By engaging with professional artists and educators, and providing access to resources and tools, Upturn Arts empowers children to explore their creative potential and develop a love for the arts.

Kirkland Green has been working at Upturn Arts for two years and is currently the special projects director.When Kirkland first started working at Upturn Arts, he was a music and theatre teacher, as he is an artist himself. He is originally from Marksville, which is a small town in Central Louisiana, and grew up in a very musically-inclined family. Constantly being around music throughout his childhood and singing on a daily basis led him to become super passionate about creating his own music, as well as teaching it. Kirkland’s first memory of music is  singing in his community church as a little boy. Being around music felt very natural and comforting to him.

Although he never quite envisioned himself in the non-profit sector, he knew he was passionate about providing arts education. After graduating from LSU, Kirkland moved to Baton Rouge, where he continues to co-chair the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee at the Theatre Baton Rouge. Having grown up in a low-income family that did not have the resources to access arts education, Kirkland values the importance of ensuring that arts education is accessible for all. He later decided to pursue a teaching career, teaching high school social studies in Plaquemines Parish. Despite a lack of administrative support, he came to the realization that he loved helping kids. However, he wanted to translate his newfound interest in a different way. His passion for singing ultimately led him to his current job at Upturn Arts.

Kirkland lights up when he sees the contagious smiles on the faces of his camp session students. He loves to see the growth of each individual child throughout their time at Upturn Arts. He works hard towards encouraging his students, raising their self-esteem, and building confidence. He explains how “they come in one person and after having the experience that they’ve had, they leave a completely different person.” Working with young students, especially those who might not have yet been exposed to formal art education, requires a lot of patience and understanding from Kirkland. He provides children with the basics of music, but most importantly, he strives to create a fun and inclusive atmosphere for all kids at Upturn Arts because “that’s what camp is all about!”

Furthermore, he strongly believes that children who are exposed to art, particularly at Upturn Arts, greatly benefit, as it helps keep Central City kids off the streets, provides them with a creative, positive outlet, and teaches them how to be passionate about something through discipline. As Kirkland continues to teach young aspiring artists and organize fundraiser events, such as concerts, for Upturn Arts, he is also able to grow as a professional musician with his band. He has had the wonderful opportunity to perform with several well-known artists such as Big Sam, DJ Logic, and George Porter Jr. and he looks forward to more incredible possibilities to come. Overall, Kirkland’s story is a testament to the power of pursuing one’s passions and working towards creating positive change.

Kirkland’s latest EP released on April 28th, showcasing his soulful vocals and unique sound. Be sure to check out and support his new music which will be streaming on all platforms! 

To pre-save check out:

Please watch the interview with Kirkland:



You must login to post a comment. Need a ViaNolaVie account? Click here to signup.