Photo courtesy of Courtney J. Boddie.
Last summer, our Executive Director Beth Feldman Brandt served on the selection committee for the 3Arts Awards for Chicago’s artists. While there, we connected with fellow judge Courtney J. Boddie, Director of Education/School Engagement at the New Victory Theater in New York City. Courtney runs her own podcast, Teaching Artistry, where she interviews teaching artists and arts educators nationwide to highlight the impact of teaching artistry in different communities. Read our Q&A with Courtney to learn all about this wonderful resource and her experience creating this podcast.
In season 3 of the podcast, one of Courtney’s guests will be Mindy Early, lead facilitator of Bartol’s trauma-informed training for teaching artists – be on the lookout for this interview in the fall! Be sure to also check out our past blog interview with Mindy about this program if you haven’t read it yet.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in the arts? How did you wind up starting a podcast?
I’m an actor and theater maker, and I have a graduate degree in Educational Theatre from NYU. When I started working at The New Victory Theater, I was charged with growing our new school outreach program. Up until that point, most of our student and teacher programs were held here at the theater, but now we were actually going to have a set group of teaching artists to work in classrooms. Over time, our teaching artist roster has grown larger and larger to be able to serve more schools. Full-time staff at the New Victory were also involved in teaching these programs in classrooms, which really helped cultivate my skill set as a teacher. In my heart of hearts, I’m really a teaching artist, even though I’m a Director of Education.
Since 2011, I’ve also taught a class in NYU’s Educational Theatre program called “The Teaching Artist.” When I first started, most of the information available for teaching artists was theoretical. There wasn’t a whole lot that was praxis and process-based that was geared towards helping teaching artists actually get jobs. Over time, the amount of content and resources has grown, but a lot of teaching artists still feel like they’re in silos and not necessarily part of the broader community. I felt like the podcast could be a place for hearing about other people’s stories and ways of working. There are so many different ways of coming to this work, and the field is so vast that it can feel overwhelming sometimes. The podcast is a place for us to all have a conversation and listen to one another.
What’s the most interesting or surprising thing that you’ve learned about teaching artistry through your podcast?
I started this podcast because I wanted to learn why teaching artists do this work. I’m starting to realize that people do it for a lot of different reasons, but ultimately because we think that art creates hope, and we need to spread hope. For me, the most interesting thing is that the conversation about teaching artistry is constantly evolving. No matter whom I’m talking with or what we’re talking about, the conversations flow into each other in terms of ideas they’re thinking about or questions they’re asking. At the heart of it all, we do this work because we have a great deal of passion for sharing our artistry and our art with others. The arts are inherent to who we are, and there’s something grounding about opening up space and opportunities for others. And I think teaching artists understand that we possess that responsibility—it’s sort of a treasure/burden, but we take it on.
What’s your main goal in producing this podcast? Who’s your audience and what do you hope that they’ll get out of listening?
There are a couple of goals of the podcast. One is to have interesting conversations about teaching artist work that can help the listener better understand different pathways into this work. Another goal is to be a bridge to connect the different teaching artist networks across the nation—for instance, helping larger entities and institutions reach teaching artists that are beyond their own constituents.
The main audience right now is artists and teaching artists, and people who work in the arts and arts education field. What I’ve been told that people are getting out of it is that they really love hearing the personal journeys of each of the guests. I want to vary who the guests are so we’re getting a broader range of experiences. I started out interviewing just my friends and people that I know, and I’m trying to broaden that out. We’re also working on building partnerships with other entities. We have a partnership with Teaching Artists Guild and partnered with the International Teaching Artist Conference and the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable to hold a live podcast event as part of the 2019 global conference.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Season 3 of the podcast is underway, and we would love to hear from people. What do you want to know? What do you want to hear about? Who do you want to be interviewed? It’s something that’s interesting to us, to continue to evolve what this podcast can be for the listeners.
Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.