Philadelphia Young Playwrights learning through play writing.

Bartol Blog

Learn what is happening in the field of arts education and teaching artistry. Past blog posts with links to resources can be found by searching or by clicking on a category below. Check in often as we update our blog and link to local and national resources.

Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists—Wrapping Up, Moving Forward

  • I grew my understanding of trauma, its symptoms, and art as a space and process of healing.
  • I take away strategies to face challenging behavior with consistent compassion.
  • I question how we can “normalize” these trauma-informed techniques so that they are simply best practice.
  • I resolve to always begin with my own healing.

These were a few of the reflections from the first class of teaching artists as they completed 20 hours of training in trauma-informed practice. We continued to work with teaching artists who incorporate these practices into their teaching. Josh Robinson, who helps people cope with grief through drumming, led us in creating “tribute rhythms” to people who had lost. It was somehow poignant and uplifting at the same time.

Our last class continued to focus on strategies of self-care for teaching artists. Participants shared their own methods including journaling, being in nature, yoga…and sometimes just venting to someone who will listen.

In the end, each teaching artist shared the value of the training and made suggestions for improving it. As we suspected, we were asking them to take in and process a tremendous amount of information in what turned out to be a short period of time. (We thought 20 hours was a lot!) We are already revising the curriculum to incorporate many of their suggestions in preparation for the next class that will run in March/April of 2019.

Many thanks to the William Penn Foundation for their support of the development and piloting of this training.

 

Applications for the next class are open through Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 5pm.  Read more information and apply here.

 

“The best thing you can do as a teacher is to encourage questioning”—Interview with Sarah Shaw, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Bartol workshop participants show off their free teaching resources from the PMA’s Wachovia Education Resource Center.

 

Earlier this fall, the Bartol Foundation kicked off its 2018–19 workshop season with a fieldtrip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Wachovia Education Resource Center. Here, we met with Sarah Shaw, Resource Center Coordinator, to learn all about the museum’s free resources for teaching artists and other educators—from lesson plans and activities to teaching posters and collection guides. We even had the chance to try out a few of the activities for ourselves and take home some free resources.

Sarah was so enthusiastic about connecting the museum’s resources with Philly’s teaching artists that we reached out to her for a follow-up conversation. Keep reading to learn more about how the visual arts can serve your TA practice in any artistic discipline.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background in the arts? How did you wind up in your position at the PMA?

I had a bit of a circuitous path to my position, but I think part of why the job is such a great fit for me is that it requires a varied background in both the arts and education. I studied anthropology, archaeology, and art history in undergraduate and graduate school. Eventually, my path led me into elementary education, and I got a master’s degree from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Once I became a classroom teacher, I found that the most meaningful way to activate all my background knowledge—history, art history, anthropology, literature—was in helping my students make connections across everything they were learning. I’ve found that the best thing you can do as a teacher is to encourage questioning. For instance, saying to a student, “That’s a really interesting question, why don’t we try to find out the answer together?”

My position at the PMA allows me to bring my experience as a classroom educator—and my knowledge of what teachers need to effectively engage students—to the job of making the museum’s collections and resources more accessible to audiences in Philadelphia and beyond.

 

What types of resources and opportunities does the Wachovia Education Resource Center have available for teaching artists?

First off, probably the most important thing for me to say is that I do not pretend to be an expert in art-making. The teaching artists who are Bartol’s audience and beneficiaries are the real experts. What I feel we have to offer is a wide range of teaching strategies to help teaching artists actively engage their audiences—whether youth or adult—in the kind of looking, thinking, discussion, attention to detail, questioning, and investigating that are so important to the creative process. Really looking closely at art that someone else has created and being inspired by the themes, materials, or the way the artist expresses themselves.

We create lesson plans and other free resources that make the artwork in our collection more accessible to educators who are teaching outside of the museum. We conduct free workshops at the Resource Center about these teaching strategies. We also provide one-on-one planning support for any teaching artist or educator who’s interested in brainstorming ideas for lessons.

 

What are some ways that artists from non-visual arts disciplines (e.g. music, dance) can incorporate the visual arts into their teaching practice?

I really love this question. I have a background in dance, and I think that so many of the same principles of composition apply to both disciplines. Musicians, dancers, and visual artists all think about things like rhythm, pattern, movement, and even color. There are so many visual artists whose work is inspired by those aspects of music and dance. The same principle can also apply to theatre. There’s so much narrative in the visual arts, and one of the ways that we take advantage of that is to think about really inhabiting a “character” in an artwork, and imagining what that character is thinking, feeling, how they’re interacting with other characters, and what the artist’s craft is in showing those thoughts, emotions, and interactions. There are so many connections outside of the visual arts, and we really hope that we can work with teaching artists broadly.

 

What has been the coolest or most unexpected use of the PMA’s resources for a curriculum?

For me, the coolest thing is every time I hear that a teacher has not only used one of our resources, but that they’ve adapted the content for their classroom. Every time I hear about the ways that our resources have been adapted for different circumstances, contexts, students of all ages and levels, or materials, it hits home for me that these strategies to teach through art really work. It’s a solid foundation because they can be so flexible for different educational contexts.

 

To schedule an appointment or workshop with the Wachovia Education Resource Center, please email resourcecenter@philamuseum.org or call 215-684-7140.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists: Week 3 Reflections

So sometimes, we cry.

In week three of the Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists training, we focused on student behaviors that can be caused by trauma and how teaching artists can best support the needs of these students. While there is a lot to unpack about facing challenging behavior, the short version is:

  • First, handle yourself. You should have a “pause plan” to shift your perspective from being frustrated or insulted to being compassionate and concerned.
  • Next, build safety for the student by affirming their feelings and offering a physical activity to help them feel present like taking deep breaths together.
  • Then, give them a choice of what they do next which could include a break alone, talking to another teacher, or doing a different activity for a few minutes.
  • Finally, when they are calm is the moment to talk about what happened in a way that refocuses the student and expectations.

We were joined by this week’s guest artist, Josh Robinson (previously featured on a Bartol TA Spotlight), who shared his experiences helping people deal with grief through drumming. He gently touched the steel pan (that you see in the video) and there was a collective inhale as the unexpected soft echo of the notes filled the room. And yes, some cried. Then we created rhythms that built on words for what we missed about someone we had lost. We made music together and had our own small moment of healing.

Some of the teaching artists’ takeaways from this week’s session include:

  • Anchor rhythm to emotions.
  • Ask more caring questions when I see behavior that could be a sign of trauma impact.
  • The use of rhythm in a space with words, feelings, thoughts, and easily accessible ideas for anyone, but more specifically, for students.
  • Noticing space / incorporating self and group rhythm.
  • Trust can be built by creating.

Trust Takes Time: Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists, Week 2

The group of 12 teaching artists selected to participate in Bartol’s first trauma training workshop series. (Photo credit: Tezarah Wilkins.)

 

Years ago, a teaching artist said to me, “I thought if I was really organized and had my lesson plans all set that I could move the project along faster.” He was working at a center for adjudicated youth and quickly realized that building the trust needed for these young people to share their stories took time. It took as long as it took for the students to believe that he, as a teaching artist, wasn’t just another adult who came into their lives, usually to tell them why their stories were wrong or not worth listening to. That he would show up every week and honor their voices.

This experience was borne out this week as we talked about the many barriers to building trust with people who have been impacted by trauma. We learned how to spot where students are on the continuum of trust.  The student leaning back in her chair with her hoodie pulled over her eyes is probably not ready to leap into an exercise requiring eye contact, touching or personal disclosures. Great thanks to teaching artist and moving body, Shavon Norris, who showed us ways to speak respectfully to students, meet them where they are in what you are asking them to do, and stating often that you trust them to know their bodies and comfort zone to participate as best they can in any activity. Lead facilitator Mindy Early also shared ways to have different levels of participation, all of which are authentic, real work.  If you can’t write a whole page, write three lines. If you don’t want to dance, be the DJ.

The teaching artists’ takeaways from this week’s class include:

  • Inviting students into the space and allowing them to participate in a manner which feels comfortable to them.
  • That our art can also cause discomfort.
  • “I invite you to” instead of “I want you to.”
  • React wisely and thoughtfully. Invite more often.
  • How my art form can be difficult for students

 

Next week: How Trauma Manifests in Student Behavior. In the meantime, visit www.headspace.com for more mindfulness tips.

Launching Bartol’s New Training Series: “Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists”

Photo credit: Tezarah Wilkins.

Early on a Saturday morning, 12 teaching artists gathered to begin 20 hours of training over five weeks in trauma-informed practice for teaching artists. These artists were selected from 44 applicants and reflect everything that teaching artists look like—a range of perspectives based on artistic discipline, career stage, race, and gender/gender identity.  Each committed not only to attend the training, but also to read, do homework, and engage with the concepts in a deep way. At the end, they will submit a trauma-informed lesson plan in their discipline and receive a stipend of $200.

Designed and facilitated by Mindy Early, Director of Education for Philadelphia Young Playwrights, the first session dug right into the effect of persistent adversity on the brain—poverty, violence, housing, food insecurity…the list goes on. Guest speaker Mike O’Bryan gave this analogy, “If you put a seed in the ground and pour bleach on it, you know it will grow damaged if it grows at all. No one blames the seed.”

Each session will mix theory and practice, including self-care for teaching artists who can themselves suffer from secondary trauma from bringing their wholehearted selves to their work. Here are a few of the teaching artists’ takeaways from Week 1 that they plan to apply to their practice.

  • Say hello to students using their names.
  • I plan to check in with the “How do you feel today” sheet, and be more intentional about design in regards to teaching.
  • I need to be better about doing a consistent closing ritual.
  • Understand/deconstruct personal bias to practice designing for “well being.”
  • I hope to use some of the self-care tips to reduce levels of stress and vicarious trauma.
  • Always planning low-impact activities instead of thinking of them last minute.
  • Use brain breaks. Consider/recognize heightened brain states.

Stay tuned for updates as the training continues.  And for your own self-care, try this five-minute meditation video.

 

“It shouldn’t be this difficult for artists to thrive” – Interview with Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder and Managing Director of Small But Mighty Arts

Photo Credit: www.smallbutmightyarts.org.

 

This past spring, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts (SBMA) to award ten $500 micro-grants to Philadelphia-based teaching artists. As part of our ongoing Q&A series, we spoke with Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder and Managing Director of SBMA, to learn more about her work with the Philadelphia arts community and SBMA’s new partnership with the Bartol Foundation.

SBMA is now accepting applications to award five more micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. The application will close Sunday, September 9. Access the online application here.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your background in the arts? How did you decide to found Small But Mighty Arts?

I came to Philadelphia as a creative myself. My background is in theatre, writing, and spoken word, which is kind of like a marriage between theatre and poetry. I also have a professional background in public relations and business. I did a lot of “starving artist” things and did my art on the side of my full-time job, even though I wanted to do more. I realized just how challenging it was to be an artist on many different levels, whether it was finding opportunities or being able to expand my skills beyond just performance. I didn’t understand why my peers and I were having such a difficult time—we had talent and skills, but we were always struggling to find the next opportunity. I felt that it shouldn’t be this difficult for artists to thrive, knowing how important the arts are to the community, education, and the creative economy.

Around this same time, a friend suggested I apply for a grant to fund ideas. I pitched three of my ideas, and one was selected—to provide artists with smaller funds during a critical time window. When I was working on my album, I had the experience of being short about $500-1,000 to finish the technical production of the project. I had done the bulk of the work and just needed a little bit of funding so that I wouldn’t have to stop. I pitched this idea to small firms and got awarded a challenge grant, and that’s what brought me to start Small But Mighty Arts.

 

What is most meaningful to you about SBMA’s work in the community?

The ability to make connections, especially connections that turn into real, tangible opportunities. For me, that’s the whole point of SBMA. Even though we started with micro-grant programs, the purpose is to shorten the distance between an artist and their next career-enhancing opportunity, whether that’s professional development, funding, or marketing and promotion.

Our partnerships with other organizations and programs have also been very valuable. We would not be able to thrive without our partnerships. Many of the artists that we fund through micro-grants we’ve also connected to our partner organizations and other paid opportunities. We always think about what it means to be able to share mission and goals when we partner with organizations in a way that’s powerful for both of us. I think the fact that people are willing to partner with us, even though we’re small, continues to help us expand what we’re able to give back to artists.

 

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your work with SBMA?

It changes, but right now it’s getting emails from artists that we’ve worked with or funded and hearing that our work with them led them to another opportunity or kept their momentum going. We got an email from one of our 2017 grantees, Irina Varina, who worked on a film that premiered at a film festival in New York, and part of the micro-grant funding that we gave her allowed her to finish that project. Another grantee from 2017 is Amy Schofield, who’s a flamenco dancer. We were able to book her for a performance at the Barnes Foundation, and then the Barnes reached out and wanted to book her again. It’s those types of moments that are really powerful for me. Sometimes we also hear that an SBMA grant is the first one an artist has received, and that grant gives them inspiration to apply for other opportunities. That’s the whole point—that they don’t give up and they’re able to persist, and we make it possible for artists to do that right here in Philadelphia.

 

SBMA recently partnered with the Bartol Foundation to award micro-grants to teaching artists and to share a staff Artist Engagement Fellow. What drew you to this collaboration with Bartol?

It started with us first supporting each other’s work and sharing information with our networks. We realized that we have very similar missions and goals. We also saw the value in being able to inform our artists, who are not teaching artists, of the opportunity to develop that skill. Bartol was reimagining their focus, and when they reached out to us it made a lot of sense to work together toward a shared mission goal. Through sharing an Artist Engagement Fellow, we’re able to highlight the artists that we’ve funded, and to make sure that there’s shared information between the two organizations about other opportunities for artists.

This partnership has been five years in the making. Not every partnership takes that long, but I will say that our best partnerships have been the ones that we’ve built over time. That’s encouragement to others who are thinking about building partnerships. You are probably already starting by the relationships you are creating. It’s worth building all levels of partnerships—they get very valuable work done for the communities that we serve.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Program Assessment 101—Interview with Dr. Samantha Matlin, Scattergood Foundation

Photo courtesy of ArtWell.

 

This fall, the Bartol Foundation will be piloting a new series of trauma-informed training workshops for teaching artists. We’ve partnered with our co-working neighbors at the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation to plan assessment tools for this program. Read our Q&A with Dr. Samantha Matlin, Director of Evaluation and Community Impact at the Scattergood Foundation, to learn about the considerations involved in planning a program assessment.

In case you missed it, be sure to also check out this interview with Mindy A. Early, lead facilitator of our upcoming trauma training pilot series.

 

Tell us a little bit about the Scattergood Foundation. How did you come to work with the Bartol Foundation to plan assessment of the pilot on traumainformed practice for teaching artists?

The Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation has been a health conversion foundation since 2005. We’ve had a long-term commitment around behavioral health and the moral treatment of individuals. Really since the beginning of the Foundation, we’ve had a focus on trauma, and later specifically more on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Over the last few years, we’ve been doing more of this work as more people have become aware of the significant prevalence and impact of ACEs and trauma. We have also been part of the Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experience Task Force and other community coalitions.

A few years ago, we worked with Bartol on some smaller trauma-informed training workshops for artists. Since that time, we have been an advisor and partner around these conversations. In terms of this specific pilot project, it’s really an extension of that history of working together in this area. With my role around evaluation and program planning, through conversations between the leaders of Bartol and Scattergood we talked about how we could support this pilot.

 

When thinking about how to assess a pilot program, what are the first questions you ask?

Pilot programs should be thought of as a learning opportunity, first and foremost. The focus should include the initial impact that you are hoping the program will achieve, but more about understanding what you are working to implement, and how that can be documented and understood so it can be improved upon in the future.

It’s also very important to consider who your participants are, especially when you’re implementing a program for the first time. You consider who are the participants, what is the contact going to look like, what methods will you be using to track any information—but more initially on the implementation side than on the outcomes. Some people talk about that as more of a formative evaluation, really asking questions and figuring out what kind of information you need to be able to understand how to improve the program and then track outcomes.

 

What are some ways to incorporate assessment into a pilot program that are not too cumbersome for a small organization?

I think assessment has to do with both the size of the organization and the size of the program. Sometimes pilots are smaller in scale even at large organizations, so it may not make sense to do something that’s too cumbersome then either.

Understanding who your program participants are is critical, but it doesn’t have to mean doing large-scale surveys. Assessment could take the form of asking questions in the beginning to understand participants’ baseline knowledge: How familiar are they with the topic? What kind of training have they experienced in the past? Or, in the case of teaching artists, how many students do they potentially reach through their teaching, or do they already have exposure to these kinds of concepts? This type of information can really shape what a program can look like and help you understand what kinds of changes to anticipate, that then can be measured.

In determining what type of data will be most useful, it’s important to consider how you plan to use the information. It’s often good to have some measurements and scales on quantitative surveys so that you can look at averages and even change over time, but I think that has to depend on the culture of the program participants and the organization. Qualitative data and narrative is really important, and this may be sufficient with a smaller group and even help inform learning with a larger program.

 

When can an organization do its own assessment of a pilot program, and when/for what purposes should they hire outside assistance?

That’s a great question, and I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer. A lot of it depends on why an organization is doing an assessment, and what kind of capacity they have to it themselves. If an organization has staff that are able to do an assessment, then that could make a lot of sense. It is important for an organization to be able to assess their programs as part of their work. But if the goal of the assessment of the program involves more rigorous evaluation research, that could be a reason to hire externally. There are still benefits of having someone do assessment that is part of that organization and closer to a program, because they can really understand that program in a different way.

 

Anything else youd like to add?

We’re really excited to be involved. It’s fantastic that Bartol is using the available information and training around trauma and ACEs to think about the benefit that can bring to teaching artists and students. Our role in helping to support learning around that is a pleasure to do.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Becoming trauma-informed is a journey”—Interview with Teaching Artist Mindy A. Early

In the fall of 2018, the Bartol Foundation will be piloting a new series of trauma-informed training workshops for teaching artists. Mindy A. Early is the lead designer and facilitator for this series. She is also Director for Education and Program Services at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, where she manages in-class residences, out-of-school programs and special projects, and productions.

To learn more about Bartol’s upcoming trauma workshops, read our Q&A with Mindy.

 

How did you become aware of the impact of trauma on the students you were working with?

There’s a twofold answer to that question. The first, which may be the more obvious one, is that my teaching artists and myself would go into classrooms and use playwriting and monologue writing as a vehicle to encourage students to use and express their voices. As an organization, Young Playwrights never censors students, so they are allowed to write about whatever they would like, from completely fictional all the way through biographical. So, as you can imagine, many of our students take that opportunity to write about things that touch their lives directly, and some of those topics suggested that they had intersected with some trauma in their lives.

The secondary reason is that, for a long time, my teaching artists and I have believed that some of the behaviors encountered in classrooms that would be labeled as “unwanted” or “challenging” aren’t coming from a place of the students rebelling against the artist who’s in the classroom. A lot of these responses are coming from a different place. We were looking towards trying to find a model that could reframe our views of that behavior, and also equip us better to meet students where they were and to help them rather than discipline them.

 

What does it mean for teaching artists to be trauma-informed, and how were you trained in these practices?

The majority of my training comes through the Lakeside Global Institute. They have a three-part, 72-hour training for people who work with potentially trauma-impacted populations. I took those three courses in addition to some other readings and professional development sessions that I’ve attended.

Being a trauma-informed teaching artist is a process. The first step is realizing what trauma is, its causes, and its effect on the brain, body, and behavior. And then what its potential impact is on a person’s ability to forge positive relationships, to trust, or to be able to comfortably learn because of where they’re at in their brain state.

The second part is being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma based on exhibited behaviors. This involves looking at how they interact, how they forge relationships, and how they’re responding physically, emotionally, and socially.

The final part is responding by fully applying knowledge about trauma into workshop practices and student encounters and, by so doing, seeking to actively resist re-traumatization. In other words, choosing responses that, rather than discipline or punish the individual, actually help to calm them and give them tools to heal, to build resiliency, and to learn how to develop positive relationships and other things that can help them through the impact of their trauma.

 

As the lead facilitator for the Bartol Foundation’s new training in trauma-informed practice for teaching artists, can you tell us about this training and what you hope it will achieve?

This training is interdisciplinary—artists of any art form can take this training and find the information valuable and directly applicable to their work.

The training will start in trauma theory—looking at what causes trauma and how it affects the brain, behavior, and ability to learn. You can’t talk about trauma without talking about the theories and getting a little scientific, so you really understand what it’s doing to the brain and body.

The training will then segue into how we can shift our practices as teaching artists. So, looking at what the considerations are as we plan our lessons, give directions, facilitate the classroom and transitions, and give students assignments and guideposts. As we’re teaching this portion of the workshop, we’re also teaching class facilitation practices—how to deal with students one-on-one and as a group.

We’re hoping to close out the sessions by looking at vicarious trauma and how to integrate self-care even in your busiest moments. Teaching artists who are working with trauma-impacted students on a daily basis are having a lot of heavy conversations, which can be a lot to take on. This has been coming up frequently as I’m in trauma-informed spaces as a teaching artist.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

The act of becoming trauma-informed is definitely a journey and a process. In order to be truly trauma-informed, you have to be willing to dig into a lot of theory and reading. And then as you apply it to your practices, you have to be willing to dig into yourself—your biases, habits,strengths, and weaknesses—and really commit yourself to a bit of a paradigm shift and maybe letting some things go that have been part of your practice for many years. So, it is hard work and rigorous work, but it’s really important work. And it’s really rewarding when you have a workshop or a one-on-one interaction when you see that these principles make a huge difference and impact.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Creative and Engaging”—Interview with Bartol/SBMA Artist Engagement Fellow Tezarah Wilkins

As part of the Bartol Foundation’s new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts, we recently brought on board Tezarah Wilkins as Artist Engagement Fellow. Tezarah will be working jointly with Bartol and SBMA to profile the work of teaching artists in the community through video interviews, assist with networking events, and raise awareness of the resources provided by these two organizations. Be sure to follow Bartol’s Facebook page to stay updated as this exciting new partnership unfolds!

Meet Tezarah in today’s Q&A!

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work as an artist?

I’ve always been an artist, and I’ve transitioned through different genres of art at different stages in my life. I started out as a visual artist doing illustration, and then I trained as a theatre actor for a while. In college, I started doing spoken word, pairing my theatre background with poetry to give it that performance element. Now I’ve transitioned into photography and film, which I’ve been doing for the longest—for about the last eight years or so.

What do you focus on when creating a short film to profile an artist’s work in the community? What techniques do you use visually and in the interviews to tell their story?

I try to think about everyone as a character, showcasing the emotion through the interactions between the teaching artist and their community. I like to include aspects of fun as well, because a lot of what we do as artists is creative and engaging and relatable. So, if an artist is at a school, I focus on getting the ambiance, seeing what their community looks like, and creating imagery that showcases their interactions with students—smiles, laughter—and how they engage with their community.

You will be out in all kinds of places that bring artists together, telling them more about resources through Bartol and SBMA (e.g. grants, professional development, networking). What do you think is the most important thing you can tell artists about why they should connect with these resources?

I think artists are always going to benefit from organizations that are trying to cultivate their skills and provide additional opportunities for them. Organizations like the Bartol Foundation provide a lot of professional development opportunities where artists can hone certain skills. Granting organizations are always wonderful to be attached to for the financial support as well, just so that artists can continue to grow their work and have the resources to reach out to a greater audience.

What are you hoping to learn from this fellowship?

I’m looking for the same things, honestly. I’m definitely looking forward to this fellowship and using it as a way to grow myself as an artist—getting feedback from other people who are working as artists every day, being around their energy, and being motivated by the work that they do. Ultimately, I want to use the fellowship as a platform for networking with other organizations and individuals that I can partner with to grow the arts in Philadelphia.

 

To view Tezarah’s work as a photographer, visit https://www.instagram.com/tezarah/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Are You Covered? Insurance 101 for Teaching Artists – Interview with Holly Fisher

As a teaching artist, you are also your own small business manager. It’s important to think through the responsibilities and liabilities you take on when going into the community to do work—or even in your own studio.

Today on the Bartol blog, we bring you an interview with Holly Fisher. Holly is Program Lead for Insurance and Visas at Fractured Atlas, a New York-based nonprofit that works with artists, arts organizations, and cultural stakeholders nationwide to provide affordable and accessible insurance coverage.

 

What kinds of insurance are most essential for teaching artists?

It varies based on what each individual teaching artist is doing and where they are in their career. The most common type of insurance we see by far is liability insurance, usually with abuse and molestation coverage. Sometimes we’ll have teaching artists request student accident coverage, or inland marine or property insurance for expensive materials or equipments. Workers’ compensation we see a lot, and then there’s volunteer accident coverage if an artist works with volunteers who need to be covered.

When does it make sense for a teaching artist to get insurance?

We don’t, by default, say “yes, you need coverage.” But if you’re working with entities—like granting organizations, the city, schools, or a landlord—that require you to have insurance, obviously that’s a reason to get coverage. It’s going to give you access to more opportunities. Another reason to get coverage is if you are looking to lend credibility to your organization or yourself as a teaching artist. Parents are going to feel more secure, for instance, if you have coverage for abuse and molestation, knowing that you’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted your i’s. Ask if it financially makes sense for you. Sometimes insurance is expensive, so it doesn’t make financial sense. If it’s going to be super expensive and you don’t really have anyone requiring you to have insurance, it may not yet be the time.

What are some strategies for teaching artists to secure insurance?

With somebody starting out looking for insurance, I would recommend that they first do some research on insurance providers that specialize in the arts and apply to as many as possible. It’s a really good idea to get quotes to compare. I would also say that it’s a good idea to have any insurance requirements or contracts for the coming year at the ready to give to a broker or agent so they can make sure that the artist is really getting the insurance that they need.

What are the specific concerns teaching artists should be aware of when purchasing insurance? What questions should they ask?

If you’re looking at different companies and wondering where to start, a good idea is to make sure that the insurance companies are A-rated by A.M. Best—that just means that they’re reputable companies that are financially secure. And that’s going to be important. It’s something that a lot of different institutions might require. If you’re working with a landlord or with a granting organization, they may want you to have insurance with a reputable company.

Another thing to look for is that the limits of the coverage are going to match what you need for requirements to your landlord or from a grant. For liability insurance, best practice is usually that your policy has a minimum of a million dollars per occurrence and two million dollars aggregate. Something that is less than that is going to be lower than the requirements for a lot of different institutions.

I would also make sure that the artists are going through their third party contracts to see if there are any special requirements. It can be tough if you’re about to start a really cool opportunity and find out that your insurance doesn’t meet a certain tiny little requirement, which would prevent you from getting that grant or working with this school, for instance.

Checking the quote itself is important to see what exclusions are on the policy. That’s something that you definitely want to ask a broker or agent—for example, if there’s a deductible. For most liability policies, that’s not going to be the case, but certainly for an equipment insurance policy, or if you’re covering your materials, that would be something that might come up.

Additional insured coverage is important if you’re working with other entities. If possible, it’s great to get blanket additional insured coverage so that anybody who needs a certificate of insurance or proof of your coverage can get it.

 

To learn more about insurance opportunities for teaching artists, visit https://fracturedatlasinsurance.org.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Feedback that makes you want to go back to work, rather than go back to bed” – Interview with Elizabeth “EJ” Johnson

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Elizabeth “EJ” Johnson is Associate Artistic Director/Partnerships at Dance Exchange. She is a choreographer, dancer, and educator with a focus in socially engaged dance practices.

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, EJ will be leading a Bartol workshop, Feedback that Nurtures: Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. Register for this workshop here: http://bit.ly/2EabXw4.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work at Dance Exchange?

I have been a part of the company since 1998, so going into my 20th anniversary season. I was the Associate Artistic Director when Liz Lerman, our founding Artistic Director, was here—I was with her for 12 years dancing in the company, directing the Teen Exchange program, and facilitating workshops. And then as she was departing, I left my full-time post to go work at Arizona State University to develop a new program for socially engaged practice and to get my Master of Fine Arts. And then I came back to work more fully with the organization in 2015. Basically, I’ve been at Dance Exchange for a long, long time, with a brief stint in the desert.

 

Why was Critical Response Process developed and what are its key elements?

The key elements of Critical Response is that it’s feedback that makes you want to go back to work, rather than go back to bed. When defensiveness starts, listening stops. And so, this is a structured way of being able to give and receive helpful feedback that is about the artist making their best work for their own vision, rather than us as outside responders imposing our vision on the artist’s work.

Critical Response Process was developed by Liz Lerman when a few key things were happening in her life and at the Dance Exchange. One, she was teaching university students, and she was wondering on what grounds she was evaluating their choreography. And she recognized that she could not do that without a dialogue being a key point of the process. She was also, as an artist, creating very political work and work that was with performers across generations that didn’t necessarily look like a lot of the work that was already out there. And she found that she really dreaded those post-show backstage conversations with people, and also the critics—she felt like she, as an artist, needed a voice in how her work was being critiqued.

She recognizes, too—and this is something that I completely relate to—that there’s a cultural narrative that artists should just toughen up and get a thicker skin to be able to “take brutally honest feedback.” Her question is, why does honesty have to be brutal? Is there a better way? Can you be honest, and can you give feedback, in a way that doesn’t make you just want to give up? So, this is a system that has helped her to maintain her own thin skin. Because as artists who work in communities, the capacity to have thin skin is an asset—to be able to feel, to be able to connect. We don’t want to get rid of our thin skin, we just want to be able to work in a way that we don’t have to “toughen up” to take it. That there is a more productive and humane way to be in a dialogue about work in progress.

 

How can Critical Response Process be used by teaching artists in their work in the community?

I think that there are multiple ways. There are certain values that underpin the Critical Response Process that can be used in the teaching practice. It’s about generosity, about curiosity, about being invested in somebody else’s success in the ways that the process can be used for peer-to-peer feedback—that the teacher doesn’t have to be the only person in the room with the knowledge and power. It provides a structure where many, many people can have the capacity to help grow each other’s work.

In the formal process, there are some elements that are really important. There are four key steps.

Step 1: Statements of Meaning. What was valuable, meaningful, evocative, surprising, curious, memorable, exciting, effective about the work that was created? Being able to have that spirit of working from what’s working is an incredible asset to bring to any learning environment.

Step 2: Artist as Questioner. In a learning environment for somebody who is creating, to have the opportunity to articulate what are their struggles and desires. It allows a person to really create their own vision and voice.

Step 3: Neutral Questions. These are questions that have no opinion embedded inside. So, instead of saying “Why is your lighting so dark?” we’d ask something like “What informed your lighting choices?” This allows people, without defensiveness, to be able to explore why they’re making the choices that they are.

Step 4: Opinion Time. These permissioned opinions. For instance, “I have an opinion about your lighting choices, would you like to hear it?” If somebody has gone through the process of creating, people usually want to know those opinions. But it just allows us to prepare for the opinions, to allow ourselves to receive it.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that the Critical Response Process has so much to offer people of different fields and domains. We’ve done it with people who do marketing, people who do grant proposals, people who do lesson plans. Although this grew out of a dance organization, it’s been used very widely in the visual arts, in theatre arts, and then also with business. So, I think it has a broad range of applicability.

I also think that you don’t need to be an expert to be able to have something of value to contribute. When I’ve done Critical Response with faculty and students, it kind of democratizes the playing field—that somebody’s response to somebody’s work can be about the chord progression, but it can also be a comment like “it reminds me of being outside in my grandmother’s yard.” And that those both have value in the room. So, I think that there’s a usefulness to it, but then there’s also a process about it that can help cultivate community as we invest in each other’s success.

 

To learn more about EJ’s work, visit http://danceexchange.org/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“When we’re writing a letter to our father, we’re really writing a letter to ourselves.” An Interview with Teaching Artist Tina Smith-Brown

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Tina Smith-Brown is a Philadelphia-based writer and teaching artist. For over a decade, she has presented her Letter to My Father workshop to audiences of all ages, which explores the impact of one’s relationship (or lack of a relationship) with their father.

Can you tell me a bit about your work as a writer and teaching artist?

Anytime I write, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, it’s very important to me that I’m always trying to share something new or teach something to the reader that they might not have known.My purpose in doing that is to teach African-American history subjects that people have long forgotten about or kids may not have known about. For example, Atlantic City was segregated in the 1950s and 60s, and one section was nicknamed by Caucasians as “Chicken Bone Beach.” All the African-Americans would come to the beach, and since they couldn’t buy food they would all pack fried chicken in baskets, so at the end of the day there would be all these bones left on the beach. I think that’s a great piece of history that our kids don’t know anything about, so that’s one of these short stories. So, I always try to write to entertain, but also to teach.

I always say God lets you do some things, and some things you’re just meant to do—it’s your job. And Letter to My Father is my job. I consider it something that I was supposed to do, I was placed here to do. And that started simply with doing workshops for women, giving them opportunities to write a letter to their father and to express some stuff. I realized that we carry things around that we never got off our chest, whether it’s positive or negative. When we’re writing a letter to our father, we’re really writing a letter to ourselves about where we’re at, why we’re at this place in time. And then I realized by talking to so many women who were older—30, 40, 50, 60—that a lot of women were still living their life by situations that had occurred or didn’t occur in that relationship with their father. So, I considered what if we could start doing this earlier, if kids started addressing some of this stuff? And you find out that it’s okay to talk about this relationship. It’s okay to feel good about it, feel bad about it. It’s okay to express how you feel in your life, if you’re happy, if you’re sad. It’s okay to open that door. And so, then I developed Letter to My Father for kids, and I started doing workshops for kids,

What attracted you to becoming involved with the Bartol Foundation as a workshop leader?

Bartol is just a fabulous organization for teaching artists, especially teaching artists that are just starting out. When you’re just starting out, you don’t really know how do I go about this, or what should I charge, or who is my workshop really for? And they help you to narrow down those very important essentials. I take a lot of their courses that have taught me how to market my workshop, how you should set up for your workshop, how to figure out who your audience is, how much to charge for a workshop. I love having Bartol in my life personally, but I also love that they are opening the door to help so many other people. You can come in for advice if you need it, you can come in for conversation—they really lift up the teaching artists. And I am extremely grateful for that.

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your time working with the Bartol Foundation?

Learning how to make my marketing package [for Letter to My Father]. Because in order to do that, you have to narrow down who you’re advertising to, your audience. And once you’re able to do that, that’s half of the battle. Every workshop is not for everybody. I offer Letter to My Father to adults and kids, but I have a specific workshop for each one. So, when they helped me narrow it down, I realized that I needed two separate workshops, that I needed to look at it in two different ways. I think that was the most powerful workshop I ever attended with them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that it’s important that teaching artists apply for grant money, not just for the monetary help, but for the shot in the arm that it gives you. Once I received those grants [from the Leeway Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts], I felt like I was truly recognized. I felt like I was legitimate—like somebody believes enough in me to put money behind me. That just made a huge difference in my life. So, I always like to encourage teaching artists not to give up. If there’s a grant and they think that they can qualify for it, apply for it.

To learn more about Tina’s work, visit https://tsmithbrown.com/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity

 

In Praise of Teaching Artists

Bartol’s 2017 TA Survey (Part I)

I am grateful every day for teaching artists.

At the Bartol Foundation, our mission is to get the best arts education to as many people in Philadelphia as possible. In schools. At senior centers. In prisons or shelters. Art, everywhere.

The only way we can accomplish this is through teaching artists—those of you who work for cultural organizations and those who are making their own opportunities to share their talents as artists, teachers, activists, neighbors and citizens.  Teaching artists who engage with people and make art in every form imaginable. Every day.

Each year, we survey teaching artists to find out who you are, where you work and what you need from us to do your work better.  Thanks to the 150+ Philadelphia-area teaching artists who participated. From this survey, we design our free professional development programs.

 The Five Top Things We Learned About Teaching Artists This Summer

  1. You teach people of all ages. While the vast majority (75%) of you are teaching K-12, a smaller group is teaching everyone from pre-schoolers ((27%) to seniors (23%.)
  2. You teach in all kinds of places. While 65% of you are doing multiple-visit programs at schools, 40% are doing multiple-visit programs at cultural organizations and another 40% are doing multi-visit programs at other nonprofits that are not cultural organizations.
  3. You are entrepreneurs. More than half of you are securing work on your own. You also work for cultural organizations as an employee (36%) and as a contractor (51%).
  4. You want to keep learning. Three-quarters of you participated in professional development opportunities in the past year (about 40% through Bartol’s Teaching Artists Workshops).
  5. You connect! Of the approximately 50 survey respondents who painstakingly told us where they worked last year, you worked for almost 100 organizations and in 80+ schools from Adair to West Philadelphia High School.  Multiply that by almost 2000 people on our teaching artist list and your impact is extraordinary!

We are in praise of teaching artists. We want to help you do your work better and smarter.  Stay tuned for our fall workshops, which are coming soon!

 

 

Meet Your Students Where They Are: Youth Development Tips for Teaching Artists

Rebecca Fabiano, Bartol Board Member and Co-Founder of PopUpPlay, shares her insights on how to engage youth of all ages. PopUpPlay believes that all people learn best through interactive, hands-on playful experiences. In this entry, Rebecca shares her thoughts and tips on how to best engage youth in elementary, middle, and high school.

Elementary school

Children in elementary school learn through play, storytelling and songs, so engagement with them should be playful. Their imagination can be very vivid and “untainted,” so you can encourage creative thinking by asking open-ended questions and creating opportunities for them to move their bodies! Then, you can provide time for them to rest and regroup. Providing routines and rituals which the children can count on signals to them what they can expect. Also, knowing how to transition from one activity to the next can help create physical and emotional safety and help manage expectations.

Keeping children engaged can reduce undesired behaviors. At this age, they will do a lot of mimicking, so how can you utilize this as a strategy to engage them? If you’re willing to be playful, they are more likely to as well. When you show them the wiggles, they’ll do it! To get them to regroup, consider holding up one hand and counting down from five, while keeping the other hand over your lips, signaling quiet. Ask them to copy you every time they see you do it. Also, sing the “clean-up song” (clean up, clean up everybody cleans up!) as a way for everyone to clean up. You can also tell them to get back to their circle by tip-toeing without talking by the time you count to five, and you can do this with them.

Middle school

For middle-schoolers, harness the power of the group! Peers are of utmost importance to pre-teens. Middle-schoolers are going to be really concerned with being judged and what their peers think of them, so you may have to show them how to recover from making mistakes. Their interests are constantly shifting, which is exciting, though it can also be frustrating because adults often interpret that behavior as being unfocused. Instead, you can see it as an opportunity to introduce youth to a variety of techniques, instruments, etc. You can also consider rotating the offerings every three weeks or offer a flexible menu from which they can choose each day, allowing them to select options depending where their friends are going that day. Lastly, keep it concrete. Children and youth at this age/stage are still thinking in terms of right and wrong or fair and unfair, without much room for nuance or abstraction unlike older teens who are more able to see shades of gray in a given situation.

High school

At this age, youth are often able to spend more time going deeper into a topic or artistic pursuit. Most youth are able to explore abstract concepts with more skill as opposed to middle-schoolers, who typically still need concrete directions and projects. You can keep expectations high when it comes to participation and outcomes (whether it is a project or product), and also make connections to their near future, such as summer jobs or college. Identify with them—and name for them—the skills and qualities they are learning and using, and explain how these skills and qualities are useful in particular careers, or as a responsible citizen or stellar student. You can also think about bringing in guest speakers, who can discuss their careers and their journey as artists

Knowing where your students are developmentally will make your work together more successful.  Watch Rebecca talk more about this at the Bartol National Teaching Artist Video Library of TA Tips here.

Supporting Teaching Artists (and Their Students) in the Current Climate-You Can Help

grantee-gathering-november

Supporting Teaching Artists (and Their Students) in the Current  Climate—You Can Help

Regardless of your politics, it is clear that this election marks the end of a particularly divisive time and a heightened climate for the people that Bartol grantees serve. Immigrants who fear deportation or detention, people of color, Muslims, women and girls, and those who live in communities that are already traumatized and marginalized, all have new reason to be concerned for their futures.

After hearing from our grantees who are trying to navigate this new reality, we invited our grantees (above) to join us to share what they are experiencing in their classrooms and see how we can all support each other going forward. While the teaching artists and staff who came together have not seen particular acts that threaten the safety of their students, they all feel that there is a pervasive climate of fear, especially for those community members who are immigrants (undocumented and otherwise) who fear that family members may be deported or detained. Many feel that this climate has brought into the open feelings of racism that have long been under the surface.

We all agreed that it is the job of teaching artists and the organizations that support them to be vigilant in maintaining a safe space for all respectful and compassionate dialogue. There was also agreement that making art provides a space in which to process feelings and also take action in whatever way each organization feels aligns with their mission.

As we all process our feelings about what might happen in the next four years, some want to talk about it. Some don’t. The group felt it was important to be mindful of how we influence those we interact with and the risks/benefits of self-disclosure. Our first responsibility is to have our participants feel as though we are a consistent, reliable, trusted teacher to them.

Many of our colleagues offered specific resources to share with each other. Others expressed a recognition that we need to build ties within our communities and also seek opportunities for strength across communities through collaborations and networking.

What You Can Do

In response to the conversation, we decided to create a system for sharing existing resources, which Bartol will post on a shared Google drive. Resources could include:

  • Trauma-informed practices for the classroom
  • Curriculum to engage students in discussion; writing prompts; activities
  • Community resources that focus on immigrant rights; reporting hate crimes; addressing incidents of discrimination and racism.

If you have resources to share or would like access to the shared resources, email us here. You can also:

  • Send ideas for workshops or resources that you would like us to offer this winter or spring and we will do our best to respond as our own resources allow.
  • Reach out directly to your colleagues (and copy us if you would) when you see opportunities to collaborate across communities.
  • Let us know in the future if you want to meet again to discuss specific topics or in a less structured setting with an open agenda.

Onward.

Got a minute? Watch a teaching artist tip!

Bartol Foundation launches National Teaching Artist Video Library

Imagine this: You are waiting for the bus on the way to teaching a residency, wracking your brain for a new icebreaker or wondering what exactly is that “common core” that everyone keeps talking about. The answers are a minute away (which is much quicker than a Philly bus these days!).

As part of the Bartol Foundation’s work to support teaching artists, we are creating the National Teaching Artist Video Library of one-minute teaching artist tips, a crowd-sourced resource by teaching artists for teaching artists.  Our videos include:

  • “How-to” videos: One-minute tips you can use in your classroom now
  • “What is…” videos:  A glossary of common phrases in education, child development, and other areas that teaching artists should know

This month’s videos:

Watch one now!

NOW WE NEED YOU! There are more videos to come but we need yours. Do you have quick, helpful gems for your fellow teaching artists?  What is your best teaching artist tip?

Join the movement! Share your knowledge. Learn practical tips in return. SUBMIT YOUR VIDEO HERE.

Want to make sure you get all of Bartol’s resources?  Be sure to join us on social media. You can find us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and at our blog.

Eric Booth: What is your TA purpose thread?

Eric Booth PhotoWhen asked to describe the field of teaching artistry, those of us in or connected to it usually pause—it’s an unfamiliar question, and an uncertain feeling about how to define this amorphous workforce. As we answer (IF we answer), we usually default to describing where TAs work, or who hires TAs. It doesn’t make much of an impression—I can tell you from having talked about this field a lot over the decades.

In the last five years, I have changed the way I conceive of the field of teaching artistry; and this fresh perspective has had an impact when I share it. It’s more inclusive—now, practitioners with different titles like “teaching artist” and “community artist” and “artist in healthcare” can see their natural connections; new partnerships become evident; and we focus on the value that teaching artists create (which is what everyone cares about) more than the locations that employ them (really, who outside the field cares about that?). I call this view the Six Purpose Threads, and the attached article lays out this landscape. It identifies the six main goals teaching artists (and others with different titles but similar skills and approaches) are hired to achieve. These are the main purposes TAs strive to accomplish in their work.  In brief:

  • Work of art: To enhance the encounter with art works.
  • Art skills development: To deepen the development of art-making skills,
  • Arts integration: To catalyze the learning of non-arts content.
  • Community quality of life: To increase the livability of communities.
  • Social/personal development: To develop personal or social capacities.
  • Other instrumental goals: To achieve non-arts goals important to institutions
  • + Digital: To activate personal artistry in digital media.

It has been adopted by Lincoln Center Education for their Teaching Artist Development Lab as a founding for their intensive, multi-level training. It is prompting teaching artists to rethink their contributions and expertise in the context of a wide and expanding field. As you will read, the six threads are pretty inclusive, and you may find your work has fallen into several, and that you have an interest in learning more about another. As TAs grapple with this vision of the field in workshops or in the luxury of two weeks at Lincoln Center, we recognize a core set of skills that applies in all those threads, as well as the distinct skills, practices, and habits of mind that lead to excellence in the different threads. It is illuminating, often exhilarating to clarify what you know and don’t know, what you want to learn more about, and what areas of special expertise you want to share with colleagues. That is a healthy set of discrimination to bring to a growing field.

At a recent day-long forum hosted by Grantmakers for the Arts, I was convinced it is time to add a seventh thread that is not adequately housed in the original six—arts activism: to foster political change. So, you will read a living inquiry not a set theory.

What do you think?

Read about the Six (Plus) Purpose Threads:.EricBooth.Teaching Artist Purpose Threads-essay

Learn more about Eric Booth’s work here.

News from the (TA) Field: Pay Rates For Teaching Artists

Josh RobinsonMeet Josh Robinson, another Bartol Teaching Artist Ambassador, writing on the conversation around pay rates for teaching artists:

I grew up around the music business, playing pots, pans, and eventually drums in the basement in my hometown of Woodstock, NY. Early musical influences include hanging around the Woodstock Recording Studio for sessions, sitting in on “Blues Break”, my father’s weekly radio show, and getting to sound check Levon Helm’s drum set while my father worked as a sound engineer for “The Band” with whom he toured the U.S and Japan.  My music is filled with the instruments and rhythms of Latin, Brazilian, and Afro-Caribbean music.

I am currently a member of “Alo Brasil”, a 14 piece Philadelphia based Samba group, and “ The Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra” a group that blends drumming traditions from Cuba, Brazil, Africa, and India. I have worked with a variety of populations of children and adults as a teaching artist using percussion as a tool for teaching aspects of communication,self-expression, teamwork, creativity, leadership, discipline, and cultural awareness through music and instrument making. I am devoted to my work with grieving children through organizations like T.A.P.S. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), The Moyer Foundation, and NAGC (National Alliance For Grieving Children).

At the National Conference for Community Art Education, I attended the working group exploring teaching artist pay which addressed the realities of teaching artist pay rates from both the organization and teaching artist perspective. We had a candid and transparent discussion about pay rates, amount of hours, cost of living, sustainability, expectations, and possibilities for regulating or generating a model or guide that could be a universal reference for all working in the field. We talked about the amount of hours/programs required to make a decent living as a teaching artist. We discussed the trends around the country based on data and research provided form several sources and did comparisons. I was impressed by both “sides” arriving at an agreement for the need/value of consistency and setting up a guide or guidelines for organizations and teaching artists around the country to utilize.

Note: This working group has been hard at work developing a prototype for the TA Payrate Calculator. Stay tuned for updates.

You can learn more about teaching artist pay rates in Philadelphia here.

News from the (TA) Field: Funding the Teaching Artist Field

AlvarezMy name is Belle Alvarez and I am a Philly-based dance artist. I love changing lives through dance and facilitating meaningful experiences with movement that instill confidence, foster artistry, and build community. I am an Education Outreach Program Coordinator and Teaching Artist at BalletX and I am also a Teaching Artist for Dancing Classrooms Philly. I have performed for independent choreographers and companies such as Sean Thomas Boyt, JDY | dance, and Jessica Warchal-King/The Embodiment Project. I do what I love and I love what I do.

I was thrilled this past November when the Bartol Foundation awarded me a scholarship to attend the National Guild Teaching Artist Pre-Conference. I was proud to represent Teaching Artists from Philadelphia!I was especially energized by meeting people who were like me yet diverse in their cultural and artistic backgrounds from around the country who share similar convictions about the mission of artist citizens. We align with Eric Booth’s definition: “A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities and habits of mind of an educator, who can effectively engage a wide range of people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.”  We bonded over humor, passion for what the arts can do in society, and an eagerness for our work to make a greater impact. I got to connect with peers that I want to collaborate with.

At the conference, I chose to convene with the working group: Funding the Teaching Artist Field. After starting an initial conversation at the conference, we  continue meet through a monthly conference call. In our meetings, we are discussing the role of the entities which fund our programs. So far we have raised questions such as:

  • What is the role of the artist who teaches in the program that gets funded?
  • Do funders look at student impact versus impact on the artist who teaches?

In advocating for the livelihood of artist citizens in the field of Teaching Artistry, we want to explore how funders consider the role of a teaching artist vs. the impact of a program. When the livelihood of a Teaching Artist is ensured, their work has a greater impact. I hope our research contributes to a teaching artist field that thrives. We’re excited for this process to unfold.

When I’m not working with youth, rehearsing, or performing, I lead recreational modern dance classes for adults at the Performance Garage. I am choreographing a new work that will be presented by Birds on a Wire Dance Theatre this June and I am in the process of developing other projects that will be revealed soon. Want to learn more about my work? Visit www.bellealvarez.com

Notes from the Field: Bartol TA Ambassadors

TA AmbassadorsHow do you build a field?  At the Bartol Foundation, we are part of a national conversation on the best ways to build the field of teaching artistry.  Last November, we brought 8 teaching artists with us to attend the National Conference on Community Arts Education.  Here are Bartol TA Ambassadors with TA guru Eric Booth: Jacob Winterstein (poet); Josh Robinson (musician); Monay Washington (visual artist); Beth Feldman Brandt (Bartol/poet); Dana Velazquez (visual artist), Jan Michener (theatre artist): Greg Corbin (poet); Eric Booth;  Belle Alvarez (dancer); and Gabrielle Sanchez (theatre artist).  A fine looking group! Each of them participated in planning session to generate a national movement to build and support teaching artists.  They will be writing in this space from time to time with their updates.  Stay tuned!

 

Are you a mandated reporter?

If you are a teaching artist or program administrator who interacts with young people, you are likely a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse. Access this online training (it takes 1-2 hours to complete) that provides an overview of mandated reporting obligations and when you have completed the entire training, you will receive a certification of completion. You can use this in your organization to show your staff and artists have received their required training. The training is free but you need to register when you log on.

Mandated Reporter Training: http://www.reportabusepa.pitt.edu

Fair pay for teaching artists

In 2014, almost 400 teaching artists responded to a survey to share information about pay rates in order to benchmark themselves against others to determine fair pay. These reports show the raw data for all the teaching artists who replied, as well as reports compiled by artistic discipline. This is only a small portion of the full teaching artist community so use this only as a guideline. It should not be taken as a definitive, scientific sample. Stay tuned for new resources percolating in the TA community to determine fair pay based on your location.

Pay Rate Survey 2014 All Responses

Pay Rate Survey2014 Dance

Pay Rate survey 2014 Literary Arts

Pay Rate Survey 2014 Media Arts

Pay Rate Survey 2014 Music

Pay Rate Survey 2014 Theatre

Pay Rate Survey 2014 Visual Arts

Pay Rate Survey 2014 Other

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