Tag: Arts Education

Roundtable Welcomes Interim Managing Director

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s Managing Director, Kyla Searle, will be transitioning out of her role this month. She has been awarded a fellowship with Harvard University, while also completing her MFA in Playwriting at Brown University. We are very proud of her and wish her the best of luck! As we begin the search for a new Managing Director, Kimberly Olsen, will step in as our Interim Managing Director and can be reached at kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org

My Full Experience at the International Teaching Artist Conference

By Heleya de Barros

It’s been two weeks since I walked out of Carnegie Hall, after three jam-packed days at the 4th International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC). I walked out a bit dazed, very tired, invigorated, and incredibly—amazingly—full. I ambled towards the subway with a colleague I’d met, but couldn’t quite bring myself to get on the train and just “go home.” It seemed crazy to follow my typical pattern after an experience like ITAC.

Instead, I walked passed the 59th Street subway and into Central Park. I needed to digest. Two weeks later, after more time contemplating, sorting through notes, listening to recordings, and many conversations with colleagues both at the conference and not, it is still hard to put this experience into words. I keep coming back to that fullness I felt as I walked into the park.

Over the 3 day conference I attended 9 break-out sessions representing 7 countries on 5 continents (Australia, Cambodia, Columbia, Guatemala, UK, USA), 3 keynote addresses (by a dancer, photographer, and theatre artist), 1 site-visit, 1 live performance, and 1 live podcast recording. And I met a lot of teaching artists. Sure, the name of the conference might suggest this, but my past conference experiences have taught me to expect to be one of few TAs in a sea of administrators. There was something very special about walking into a room of 300 people who do what you do. These were my people. I immediately felt seen and understood at ITAC. The conference’s final report quoted nearly 300 attendees (whom they call delegates) representing 28 countries.

I spoke with many others who expressed the same feeling of belonging, and the power that can come from that. One visual artist teaching artist (TA) from Vermont, Alexandra Turner, told me it had been empowering for her to claim the title of Teaching Artist, “I’ve been putting together part-time jobs for so many years and I didn’t know there was a name for it, or a community of people doing it. When I owned this title of Teaching Artist it changed my whole perception of myself and my work to someone who belongs to a community of amazing and impactful people.” Others wondered if they were missing out on finding a larger community in their field at home because different titles were used across the field. Is a teaching artist the same as a community artist or a participatory artist? Many were impressed with New York for having a very clear community around the single title of TA.

It isn’t surprising to me that the feeling of belonging was so desired and celebrated. Much of what we do as TAs can be solitary and we can often lose sight of the fact that we do belong to a community of artists who—do what we do. One conference organizer Eric Booth (who jovially refers to himself as the oldest living TA) kept referring to the delegates as leaves on a tree. This analogy was referenced frequently throughout the conference. We leaves sometimes forget (or lose sight) that we are rooted on a branch with other leaves, which is rooted on the trunk of a tree with many other branches. To that end, one of the collaborative projects launched at the conference was the Global History Timeline an online record of the history of teaching artistry. There is power in naming your history as well as your title. This is a living document. You can submit entries here.

I wondered before the conference if my experience as a TA in New York City was comparable to others in the US or around the world; or did we live in our own microcosm here? I almost feel silly for questioning this now. Of course there were similarities, particularly in the approaches to, and the challenges of, the work. The specifics of the settings or social, cultural, and institutional challenges in the 28 countries represented may be different, but our strategies were not. Active listening. How to enter a community as an outsider? How to leave a community? Recognition of the links of systemic oppression and working towards dismantling them through our art. How to fund the work? How to sustain the work? How to tell another’s story? Should you tell another’s story? How to communicate what we do?

In his keynote address photojournalist Aaron Huey spoke of his many years working in the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota, “When you leave a community like Pine Ridge they are left wondering not IF, but HOW you will misrepresent them.” Dancer and choreographer Liz Lerman posed, “I’m curious how we listen. I’m wondering how we listen with our whole artist self,” in her keynote. James Miles, Executive Director of ArtsCorps in Seattle, WA seemed to answer during the live-recorded podcast of Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie when he said, “Artists must listen to other people’s stories with love.”

Edie Demas, Sobha Kavanakudiyil, Penelope McCourty, James Miles and Courtney Boddie at the live podcast recording of Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie. Photo credit Christopher Totten.

In my last session, facilitated by Santiago Gonzalez from Corporacion Otra Escuela in Colombia, we were handed a handful of coffee beans. After each exercise exploring conflict Santiago had us take out the coffee beans, smell them, and bring ourselves back into the room and into our own bodies through the smell. He ended the session by saying, “You don’t HAVE a body, you ARE a body.”

I am a body. I am an artist. And we are a body of teaching artists in NYC, in the Northeast, in the US, and around the world. Although, I was left wondering if the question was not that we forget we are leaves that make up a tree, but that many of us don’t know we are part of a tree to begin with. While we seem to have the nomenclature of teaching artist settled in NYC (if you disagree, let me know), we still struggle to see, and actively engage, the entire tree of our teaching artist community.

While at the conference a NYC TA colleague mentioned she’d just come from a training for an arts education organization and was surprised when very few TAs in the room were aware of the Roundtable or the Teaching Artist Affairs Committee. TAs were discussing the complications of signing up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act as a freelancer and my colleague mentioned our bi-annual workshop on this very topic. No one knew what she was talking about. (Open enrollment starts Nov. 1st you can watch the video of our tutorial with The Actor’s Fund from last year here, or go to an in person workshop here).

I had a similar conversation on this struggle with the staff from the National Arts Council Singapore. They are looking at creating a Teaching Artist Handbook for their artists with opportunities for professional development, healthcare and legal aid, resources for artists, and work and funding opportunities. I thought that was an interesting idea, so I brought it back to TA Affairs.

If you come to our “Sip & Create” TA Meet-Up on November 2nd 5pm-7pm we’ll have a plethora of TA resources. Our committee is compiling them now. Do you have an idea of something that should be on the list? Do you have an idea of how to reach more NYC TAs? Hit us up.

I also had questions about how to sustain global connectivity after this conference and between the next one in 2020. ITAC answered this for me on the first day when they launched the ITAC Collaborative. I’ve already submitted the Roundtable’s TA Affairs Committee as an ITAC Collaborative Catalyst to help disseminate global information to our NYC TA community. ITAC Collaborative will also have small funding opportunities for projects between nations. Do you have an idea for a project? Hit me up.  

So, what was ITAC like? It felt like home. It felt like recognition. It felt like being full. The theme of the conference was “Artist as Instigator.” I’m instigated to create this feeling for the NYC TA community. Wanna help me?

 

Heleya de Barros is an actor and teaching artist in New York City. She is a Board Member of the Roundtable and Co-Chair of the Teaching Artist Affairs Committee. @Heleya_deBarros

*(TopPhoto credit DreamYard Media Interns.

 

New Report on Foundation Funding for Arts Education

Grantmakers in the Arts and Foundation Center’s April 2015 report, Foundation Funding for Arts Education, updates the analysis of foundation arts education funding contained in its original 2005 report. The report illustrates how support for arts education has evolved during a period  of pronounced economic volatility and dramatic political and technological change, exploring trends in arts education funding 1999 through 2012.

The report shows that funding for arts education rose 57 percent from 1999 – 2012, from $193.7 million to $304.4 million, although growth was not consistent throughout the period. The report describes steady growth between 1999 and 2005, accelerated growth from 2006- 1008, a decline of 28 percent in the year of the Great Recession, a further slip in 2011, and strong growth in 2012, when grant dollars increased 18 percent.

Some stand-out data includes:

– 44 percent of grants are $25,000 or less (compared to 39 percent of foundation grants overall)

– Arts education giving overwhelmingly targets arts organizations, with 80 percent of grant support going to arts organizations in 2012

– More than half of arts education grant dollars go to the performing arts, with music education receiving the biggest share (34 percent)

– Funding for multidisciplinary arts education, which includes broad arts in education centers and programs, multidisciplinary arts schools, and ethnic arts education programs, also doubled between 1999 and 2012.

– Within the field of multidisciplinary arts education, support for broad ethnic arts education programs increased significantly.

– Visual arts education, which includes multipurpose visual arts programs and centers and those with a single focus, such as photography or sculpture, received 14 percent, while funding for broad-based museum arts education declined between 1999 and 2012, with its share of arts education dollars falling from 20 percent to 6.9 percent.

– Funding for literary arts education accounted for 2.6 percent of arts education support in 2012, down slightly from the 3.1 percent share in 1999.

Within their arts education giving, some foundations direct support to vulnerable or underserved populations, such as to specific ethnic or racial groups or communities of color in general and to the economically disadvantaged.

The report concludes by saying that a bright future for foundation funding of arts in education depends on our ability to engage new funders, allowing them to see how their priority of addressing specific populations can be served by supporting arts education and that arts education is a powerful resource for ensuring greater equity in society.

Note that the report is a national survey and includes program of higher and graduate educational institutions, along with elementary & secondary schools.

Click here to read the full report.

 

Ten Tips for a STABLE Teaching Artist

By Justin Daniel, Teaching Artist and member of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Teaching Artists Affairs Committee.

Teaching Artists are the ultimate multi-taskers!  Not only do we bring our artistry into classrooms around the country, we are also our own advocates, agents, researchers, and administrative assistants.  While giving ourselves a well-earned pat on the back, let’s admit this often leads to an unbalanced, sometimes chaotic work-life.

We reached out to teaching artists currently in the field, and have compiled ten ways to bring more stability and sustainability to your teaching artist practice.  If you think something is missing from this list, we encourage you to respond in the comments and add to the dialogue!

1.  SYSTEMS

Finding an organized system that aggregates your various employers, keeps you on-task and on-time, and allows you to access your various pay-rates and income sources is essential for a stable work-life.  For those of you digitally minded, web apps such as Evernote (for staying organized), Invoice2Go (for payments), and Mint (for finances) are a fantastic start.

2.  THE ART OF SAYING “NO”

This may seem counterintuitive, since many of us equate stability with meeting financial goals.  However, it’s incredibly important to consider the value of your time.  If an organization is taking up too much of your time (and not properly compensating you for it), it may be time to reconsider your options.

3.  SET A TEACHING / ARTIST RATIO

Every Teaching Artist’s work/art balance is different, but be mindful of what you need to feel successful.  For some, the goal may be to devote 50% to their teaching and 50% to their art-making, for others it’s heavily weighted towards one or the other.  Whatever it is, check in with yourself periodically to assess whether you are meeting your ideal balance, or if it’s time to adjust.

4.  FIND THE JOY IN TEACHING

Is this one obvious?  Perhaps, but ask yourself if you are finding joy when you are trudging through a blizzard to get to a school three boroughs away (a common NYC predicament!).  Some suggest keeping a journal of funny/sweet classroom experiences to remind themselves of the magical moments.  Regardless, what we do should ultimately be a positive and joyful experience (at least most of the time!).

5.  FIND AND UTILIZE OUR COMMUNITY

Take advantage of the larger teaching artist community wherever you are based. From the Roundtable events, to educational conferences, to more informal get-togethers, find a way to share your experiences and gain insight from others.

6.  THINK AHEAD

Strive to book your teaching artist work as far ahead as possible.  While every organization is different, the more advance notice you get, the better chance you have at organizing the logistics and feeling wholly prepared.

7.  BE PASSIONATE FOR YOUR ARTS ORGANIZATIONS

Most organizations have distinct mission statements.  Make sure the mission statement aligns with your core values, and ensure that the mission is reflected in the operations of the organization.  If the mission doesn’t align with reality, perhaps this isn’t the organization for you.

8.  KEEP IT FRESH

Don’t get stagnant in your teaching practice.  Continue to mine for new methods, new points of view, and new activities to innovate your teaching artistry and to keep yourself inspired.

9.  BUT… DON’T CONSTANTLY REINVENT THE WHEEL

While we continue to expand as teaching artists, it’s also important to trust in the methods that have taken you this far.  Always keep your prior lesson plans saved (I use Evernote for this) so you can quickly pull activities for the future, yet be willing to set ones aside that no longer feel fresh or inspiring.

10.  ASK FOR HELP

Most arts organization have dedicated administrations who are passionate about enabling their teaching artist to fully succeed.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes, reach out to the organization for guidance and perspective.  They can help you see the forest from the trees.

Click here to find out more about Roundtable events.

Justin Daniel, Teaching Artist

Reused Materials for Creativity and Learning

This morning, I was looking at images of last night’s Halloween parade in the Village, marveling at the creativity of costumes, puppets, banners, and art on display. It seems as if Halloween brings out our passion for creating an altered persona and world, weaving together creative imagination and a variety of repurposed materials.

These images led me to thinking about the greatest NYC resource in our field for repurposed materials of every conceivable kind, and that is Materials for the Arts (MFTA). If your organization is not registered and you haven’t engaged in MFTA programs or visited the warehouse in Queens, a review of programs and services is highly recommended.

The MFTA warehouse is operated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education. MFTA collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and makes these donations available for free to its recipients: nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies, and public schools.

On any visit, you can expect to find stacks and stacks of useful supplies – bolts of fabric, every kind of paper and card, buckets full of buttons, boxes of feathers, paint, wood, furniture, equipment, and almost anything you can think of.

Friends of Materials for the Arts is the nonprofit partner that guides and supports educational programming, warehouse operations, programmatic initiatives and other goals of MFTA. Visit the Friends website to find out more about classes, p-credit courses, and useful resources such as sample lesson plans.

MTFA’s educational programming focuses on creative reuse: making art with readily available materials and the ever-changing MFTA warehouse inventory. The Center hosts programs in two studios, organizes exhibitions of recipient artwork at MFTA Gallery, and sends teaching artists into the community to share the art of reuse. Some examples of programs:

♦ Professional development for teachers workshops help educators learn engaging projects for lessons in all content areas.

♦ Field Trips:  Tour the MFTA warehouse.

♦ In-school residencies: Bring Materials for the Arts to your school or site to enhance and reinforce curricula in math, science, social studies, and language arts.

♦ Art booths and Family Engagement Nights: Creative reuse program or art booth designed for a large audience, or a series of in-class art workshops linked to your curriculum

♦ Public Programs: Exhibitions, open studio nights, and workshops open to the public

♦ Teambuilding Workshops: Volunteer and then work together to create large-scale collaborative art pieces such as quilts, sculptures, or mosaics

There is an application process and applicants need to meet eligibility requirements. Visitors need to make an appointment prior to shopping at the warehouse. Click here for eligibility and application information.

Materials for the Arts is located at 33-00 Northern Boulevard, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101. Click here for hours and directions

For teachers, teaching artists, schools and non-profit arts organizations, the MFTA warehouse is a treasure trove! Enjoy your visit!

The warehouse