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