Category: Arts Education

Can’t Stop the Hustle: 4+ Ways for Teaching Artists to get Financial Relief

By Michelle Cole
Published on October 28, 2020

Covid-19 is messing with the Teaching Artist hustle.

Our profession thrives on togetherness and community. But right now, traveling artist-educators are considered safety risks solely because of the ubiquitous nature of our work. How are we supposed to do what we do during a time when separation is mandated? How can we hustle when it feels like our whole profession is on pause? It makes me wonder, are other Teaching Artists doing ok? Because I’m not. How will we survive this financially? I have suggestions.

Teaching Artists in all disciplines have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The range of pandemic adjustments varies for each artist, from reduced hours to course conversion to furloughs. Teaching Artists have had to find ways to pivot to make ends meet. For some, this may have amounted to a career change. For others, it may look like a reconfiguration of teaching practice to remain relevant and adapt to this changing world. No matter the situation, we must remember who we are. We are adaptable, flexible, resilient, and creative in more ways than one. Knowing to pivot when necessary is a part of our job description. Despite the many challenges, teaching artistry is still alive and it is even more vital than ever. What we provide for communities is invaluable. Now, more than ever, it is time to utilize this virtual realm to take advantage of the available financial resources to supplement reduced or lost income so we can continue to provide for our communities.

Money isn’t the only way we’re being affected. Our physical, mental, and emotional health are also negatively impacted. I lost over 75% of my income. I work out – I’ll say – less (does walking back and forth from the kitchen in my pajamas count?). And I am feeling much more isolated- as many people can attest to experiencing. Teaching Artists know how isolating this profession can be, so having gatherings halted, reduced, or completely shut down can be that much more of a strain on both our mental and emotional well-being. We’re going through national ongoing extended trauma that has seen people slipping in and out of depressions and experiencing both anxiety and rising stress levels. Couple that with financial strain to get a recipe for a full breakdown.

But, before the spiral begins, there are solutions! I know the struggle; I experienced it firsthand. If you’re like me and happen to be an artist parent, then your pockets are probably quickly depleting from ravenous children incessantly eating/snacking at home. Times are hard with kids in the house 24/7, curing their boredom with food. So, I asked for help, I sought assistance, and I looked through so many websites to find solutions. These kids have to eat. I am allowing myself to be more vulnerable than I have ever been because this is not the time for pride and ego trips.

Allow me to share what I gathered and please take advantage. There are many funds, grants, and microgrants out there to provide financial relief for artists to help us navigate this unprecedented time. Below you will find a compiled list of the most current and applicable opportunities for teaching artists. This list is not comprehensive of all available emergency funds, nor is this a cure-all. But this may be able to hold us over until we can figure out how to recreate some semblance of stability.

 

Financial Resources for Teaching Artists

(October 2020: List reflects resources available as of October 28, 2020)

Artist Relief Fund

This fund has gone through seven (7) cycles of funding for artists. Two cycles remain. See the dates below.

One time, $5000 unrestricted grant for artists in need of financial assistance due to Covid-19’s impact.
There are two more rounds of applications in 2020:
Cycle VIII: October 22 – November 18 (closes 11:59pm ET)
Cycle IX: November 19 – December 10 (closes 11:59pm ET)
Apply Here
Tip: During the application process, be sure to provide as much detail as possible regarding the impact of Covid-19 on your financial struggles. Save your answers to the questions in a separate document or an e-mail so you can apply again for the next round, in case you don’t get it.

Arts Administrators of Color Network (AAC)

This microgrant is ongoing. No specified end date.

$200 microgrant for US-based BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists and administrators

Apply Here
Tip: If you have a website, update it. If not, be sure to have a web link for your CV/résumé or a contract to show artistic engagement.

Red Bull Arts Microgrant

This application is open on a rolling basis. No specified end date.

$1000 microgrant for artists (and groups) 18+
Award is given to two (2) individuals each month.

Apply Here
Tip: Be detailed about both your ‘artist statement’ and ‘statement of purpose.’ Why do you need this grant money? How will you use it? Distinguish yourself from others. NYC is jam-packed with dope struggling artists.

Max’s Emergency Relief & Resource Fund

This application is open on a rolling basis. No specified end date.

A one-time grant of between $500-$1000 for a specific bill (housing, legal, medical)
Applicants should be self-employed artists who have a steady work history but experiencing a temporary financial setback.
Money is sent directly to the third party, not the individual.

Apply Here (Download Application)
Tip: Be specific about how you will use the awarded money. It is a requirement to send applications by snail mail. This application process is extensive.

Other Resources

The Arts in Education Roundtable has plenty of resources for artists such as financial assistance, professional development, emotional and mental well-being, and more. Click here to find out more about it on their resource page.

Also, check out the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), and Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) for additional resources and other compiled lists.

I hope this helps to alleviate some of the financial stress. We may be experiencing financial hardship, but we’ll get through this together. Hopefully, this will further ignite Teaching Artists to advocacy so we can establish a union and better protect ourselves in the future. In the meantime, apply for what you can and share this with an artist friend-in-need. Many of these funds are also accepting donations, so if you are someone or know someone that has the means, please consider donating to a fund that supports Teaching Artists right now. We can really use it. Take care of yourself and remember who we are. The hustle will return.

Michelle smiles with reddish short sleeve shirt, close-cropped hair

Michelle Cole, is an educator, choreographer, and dancer. She received her Master’s degree in Dance Education from New York University, Steinhardt and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University’s Honors College. In 2019, she began her own dance teaching company, Dance Culture LLC, to conduct independent dance residencies at universities, public, private, and independent schools throughout NYC. Michelle became an adjunct faculty member of NYU in 2015, she currently teaches Afro-Caribbean and Hip-Hop Dance. As a choreographer and performer, Michelle has presented and performed in New York, Chicago, Miami, Martha’s Vineyard, Kampala, Uganda and more. She is a member of the Teaching Artist Affairs committee through the Arts in Education Roundtable and an advocate for dance education, social justice, dances of the African diaspora and culturally integrated dance pedagogy.

 

NYC School Reentry Questions from Arts Organizations and Artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2020
CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen, kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org

Published on September 23, 2020

Inspired by the Council for School Supervisors and Administrators’ 141 questions the NYC Department of Education must answer before reopening schools, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Advocacy Committee has put together a list of 48 questions our members should consider as they plan and prepare for the delivery of arts in education services in the 2020-2021 school year. We know these are tough questions, but we hope in sharing that they can be used as a resource. In addition, please review the education resources following these questions and share with your networks.


Defining Legalities around pre-recorded materials:

  • What and how will you pay teaching artists for creating pre-recorded videos? How does this rate differ from in-person teaching?
  • How will you charge schools for their use (one time fee or pay per use)?
  • What rights do teaching artists have to use or share the videos?
  • Given the intended purpose, should pre-recorded materials only include royalty free music and photos?
  • Do you have a policy on the use and/or citation of music, photos and videos used in pre-recorded content? 
  • What responsibility do arts organizations have in citing the teaching artist when sharing videos/clips or screencaps in published or publicly-facing materials?
  • What measures can you take to ensure content isn’t downloaded, stolen, or shared without permission?
  • Have you communicated with teaching artists/staff about intellectual property? Have teaching artists been given a platform to discuss this topic with staff? 
  • How is intellectual property/copyright addressed in a teaching artist’s contract, and what are your action steps if a teaching artist would like to negotiate the terms?
  • Can teaching artists share their own content with other organizations or as portfolio pieces?


Safe reentry guidelines: 

  • How do you plan to deliver arts in education programs for the beginning of the school year (synchronous or asynchronous)? Will this be an organization-wide policy or will it vary by program or school? When do you plan to revisit this decision, and who will be involved in the conversation?
  • If offering remote learning, do you plan to use one or both styles of service delivery (synchronous or asynchronous)?  Will teaching artists and staff receive training in this area prior to teaching in the style? 
  • Do you plan to deliver arts in education programs using a hybrid or blended teaching model (online and in-person)? Will teaching artists and staff receive training in this area prior to teaching in the style? 
  • What does “onsite” mean for teaching artists and/or staff who are not comfortable working in-person or who are immunocompromised? Will this impact their employment? 
  • Will your organization provide health insurance or a health insurance stipend if in-person work is the only available option to part-time staff or independent contractors?
  • How are you assessing teaching artist/staff safety and comfort with returning to in-person work? 
  • How are you preparing teaching artists to re-enter the classroom being mindful of the trauma experienced by all parties (including students, teachers, and teaching artists themselves)?
  • How are you addressing social-emotional learning with your teaching artists and staff?
  • What actions are you, your organization, and your teaching artists taking to intentionally support Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in your work?
  • What procedures are in if a teaching artist working in-person is exposed to COVID-19? What procedures are in place if a teaching artist gets COVID-19? How will you communicate this to those who may have been exposed through your programming.
  • Are you requiring teaching artists and/or staff to get tested for COVID-19 at the start of an in-person residency? If yes, how frequently are they being tested? If a fee is incurred, will it be reimbursed by the organization or is it the responsibility of the individual?

 

DOE and School specific on-site guidelines:  

  • Have you read the NYC Department of Education and NYS reopening guidelines as it relates to arts education and visitors? Has this information been shared with your teaching artists and staff?
  • What happens if your visiting teaching artist or staff member witnesses a school not adhering to city/state guidelines? Is there a procedure already in place? Has the procedure been shared with your teaching artists and staff members? 
  • What do teaching artists need in order to be given entry in a school building (i.e. temperature checks, PPE equipment)?
  • Will you provide your teaching artists and/or staff with PPE or other safety equipment (i.e. hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, face shield)?
  • What are the protocols when staff, teaching artists, in-school teachers, and/or children refuse to abide by the safety rules (i.e. wearing a mask, social distancing)?
  • How will you train teaching artists to properly clean or store materials?
  • How will you adapt your services and programs so that students/participants do not share materials?
  • How can teaching artists creatively maintain 6+ feet between students during low-level activity? How can teaching artists creatively maintain 12+ feet between students during moderate-level activity (such as singing or dancing)?


Working remotely:

  • Will your school require you to use DOE Zoom and Google Classroom accounts? How will you support teaching artists in gaining access to these systems, specifically an external email address? 
  • What will you do if a school does not allow your teaching artists or organization to use their DOE Google Classroom account because they’re unable or unwilling to create separate email accounts for vendors?
  • Are you tracking external DOE email addresses for your organization? Is there a system to place to support your teaching artist in tracking log-in information for different schools and/or classes?
  • How will you assess student access to technology without drawing attention to specific students?
  • How will you assess student access to technology without drawing attention to specific students?
  • How will you assess teaching artists’ access to technology? If additional technology is needed to support delivery of services (i.e. camera, laptop, tripod, ring light), will you provide those materials?
  • How can your organization support digital access needs (i.e. captions on videos, language access [multilingual educators, translations, co-teaching in different languages], sensory items & objects that could be delivered to someone’s living space to support focus)?
  • If videos are pre-recorded and then posted on a Google Classroom, how are you tracking if the content is used?
  • How are asynchronous videos delivered to students? Are teachers assigning it as “homework” or do teaching artists/organizations have direct contact with the students and their families? 
  • How should teaching artists return materials that they still have from the 2019-2020 school year? How will you retrieve materials left at schools during the 2019-2020 school year?
  • What should your teaching artist or staff member do if they are alone in a virtual room with students?
  • What supplies or materials will teaching artists and staff need to teach from home?
  • If discipline-specific materials are needed to teach a remote class, how will those supplies be distributed to students?
  • What happens if a teaching artist is unable to work (i.e. attend a scheduled class or deliver a video on-time)? Will that work be rescheduled, cancelled, or will you call in a substitute?
  • Are you/your teaching artists prepared with language on how to address student comfort levels with turning on their camera? How are you modifying curriculum to ensure other access points for students to share work and collaborate?

 

Communication:

  • If each school has a standard COVID-19 procedure for staff to follow, how will this be shared with teaching artists in advance to safely enter a school and a classroom?
  • What channels are available for teaching artists and staff to connect with their colleagues, share ideas, and voice concerns? 
  • Have you communicated with your teaching artists since last school year? How frequently and through what methods do teaching artists receive information about their organization of employment (regardless of whether they have work confirmed)?
  • Are teaching artists included in company-wide emails?
  • What methods are you using to get feedback from parents and students that allow teaching artists to be agile and nimble as changes emerge?
  • What methods are you using to get feedback from teaching artists and staff? Are there channels for teaching artists and staff to share information/feedback anonymously?

 


 

Additional Resources

NYC DOE Arts Education Resources:

 

General Education Resources:

  • NYC Principals’ Union lists Questions on School reopening: click here 
  • NYC Safety Guidelines for reopening: click here 
  • Cuomo announces decision on reopening NY State schools: click here 
  • DOE accounts for CBO Partners: click here
  • CDC Strategies for Protecting K-12 School staff from Covid-19: click here

 

Out-of-State Arts Education Guidelines:

  • NJ Arts Education Reentry Guidelines: click here
  • Arizona Arts Education Reopening Guidelines: click here 

 

Legal Resources:

A Tribute to Paul King

Paul King with slight smile wearing glasses, brown blazer and blue collared shirt against a black background

Published September 24, 2020
(Originally shared September 16, 2020)

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable presents a remembrance to a great friend to the Roundtable, Paul King, former Executive Director of the Office of Arts and Special Projects. This video was originally shared at The Roundtable’s Kickoff event, “Bridging the Divide: Making Connections Between Personal Impact and Communal Change.”

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Elects Six New Board Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                             

July 10, 2019

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is pleased to announce the election of six new members to the Roundtable’s Board of Directors: Ronald Alexander, Traci Lester, Toya Lillard, Ayodele Oti, Karen Sam, and Mi Ryung Song.

“The Roundtable is thrilled to have this wonderful class of experienced and talented leaders join our Board of Directors this year,” said Jennifer DiBella, Board Co-Chair, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. “We know that their demonstrated commitment to arts and community education will advance the work of our vibrant community. We look forward to their long-term impact on the Roundtable and field at large.”

Please click here for a complete list of the Roundtable’s Board of Directors.

 

Meet Our New Board Members

Ronald K. Alexander is an independent arts consultant, dance educator, and choreographer. He has performed with companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, the Iranian National Ballet, the Frankfurt and Hamburg Ballet Companies, and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City. He has choreographed for numerous schools, colleges and dance companies including the Hamburg Ballet, Clark Center for the Performing Arts, The Ailey School, the Harlem School of the Arts, Boys and Girls Harbor Conservatory, the Alpha- Omega Theatrical Dance Company, and the Nanette Bearden Dance Company.

From 1994-2002, Ronald K. was a certified dance instructor with the NY Department of Education. He has held administrative and artistic positions in the following public, private and not-for-profit venues: Chairman of the Dance Department of the Harlem School of the Arts, New York (1987-92) under Betty Allen; Principal of the High School for Contemporary Arts, Bronx, NY (2003-05); and School Administrator at the Dance Theatre of Harlem,New York (2005-07) under Arthur Mitchell. He has studied the American Ballet Theatre School Training Curriculum (Primary to Level Five) under Franco DeVita and Raymond Lukens, the Vaganova Ballet Training Method (Primary to Level Three) under John White, and the New York City Ballet Workout.

Mr. Alexander has an MFA in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a certificate in School Supervision and Administration from the City College of New York. He has served as the Academic Principal of the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts (2008-2011) as well as a faculty member. His choreography credits include A Chorus Line (2009) and Titanic (2011) at New England’s Warner Theatre. Mr. Alexander was the subject of Five Teachers, Five Venues, a 2011 article in Dance Teacher Magazine. He is currently the Director of Education at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Youth Arts Academy in Brooklyn, NY and teaches ballet the Ailey School, the Joffrey School New York, the French Academie of Ballet and Peridance Capezio Center.

 

Traci Lester is Executive Director of National Dance Institute (NDI) an arts education organization founded by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children and motivate them toward excellence. Prior to NDI, Ms. Lester served as the Chief Executive Officer of LSA Family Health Service (LSA), an East Harlem-based human services agency. Before joining LSA, she was the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, an early literacy, school readiness program, where she served for over a decade making waves in the field of early childhood development.

Most recently, Ms. Lester was recognized by the Manhattan Borough President as a Cultural Leader in New York City (2018). She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women’s Selected Professions Fellowship (1998), the National Association of Health Service Executive’s Community Service Award (2004), and was named to TheGrio’s 100 List as an African-American history maker and industry leader in the field of education (2012). She is also a member of the Greater New York Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Society for Public Administrators Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society.

She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, a Master of Public Administration from California State University and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. (Photo credit: Eduardo Patino.nyc)

 

Toya Lillard is Executive Director of viBe Theater Experience. A native Houstonian, Toya graduated from Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts. She has directed plays, developed curricula, led advocacy efforts and implemented innovative teaching artist training programs both in and out of our city’s schools. Prior to joining viBe, Toya served as Director of School Programs for The New York Philharmonic’s Education Department, where she helped to develop its nationally recognized School Partnership Program. In addition to leading viBe Theater Experience, Toya is also part-time faculty at The New School, where she teaches Global Dramatic Literature, Devised Theatre, and Portfolio 1. Toya is also an adjunct professor at CUNY CityTech, where she teaches Black Theater. Toya holds a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Toya serves on the Board of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, and is an Affiliate Representative on the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance.

 

Ayo Oti, SHRM-CP is a certified human resources professional who enjoys creating impact through strategy and operations. Her experience spans from working in startup environments to establish key processes around data management and human resource operations, to working within more established programs to bring entrepreneurial insights to the management of existing projects. She has worked in a variety of sectors and across different functional areas.

In 2016, Ayo was part of the launch team for the CUNY Cultural Corps initiative that provided paid internship experiences for CUNY students and alumni at various cultural institutions, thanks to the Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation.  While not currently working in the cultural sector, Ayo is a patron of museums and performing arts organizations. She is currently an Apollo Young Patron and part of the Alvin Ailey Young Patrons Circle. She is excited to learn from, and contribute to, NYCAiER as an At-large board member.

 

Karen Sam, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, has worked at several international firms. Currently, she writes on the law of taxation. She is also an accomplished amateur musician.

 

 

 

 

As Executive Director of Decoda since 2017, Mi Ryung Song leads structural growth strategies to expand the NYC-based chamber music collective’s performance, civic engagement, and artist training initiatives around the world. Her previous roles included fundraising at the San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, artistic planning at New York City Opera, strategic planning at the League of American Orchestras, and special projects at The Cleveland Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and School, among others. Motivated early on by the unique role of artists to broaden community access to the arts, her first job supported a range of programs managed by the Office of Educational Outreach at The Juilliard School. Prior to a career in arts management, she earned her B.M. in flute performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Born in South Korea, she grew up on the US west coast and currently lives in Lower Manhattan in New York City.

 

About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. We are a community of organizations and individuals that shares information, provides professional development, and communicates with the public to promote our work in schools and beyond. Founded in 1992, the Roundtable produces a major annual conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs; a destination website; and other activities, in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for over 1,000 individuals and member organizations.

For more information please visit: www.nycaieroundtable.org.

NYSCA Face to Face 2019 Regrant Program

A group of people talking in the Great Hall at City College. They are seated in purple chairs.
  • Conference Dates: Wednesday, April 24 & Thursday, April 25, 2019
  • Time: Full-Day
  • Location: THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK – SHEPARD HALL (160 CONVENT AVENUE NEW YORK, NY 10031)
  • Application Deadline: Extended to Monday, March 11, 2019 at 11:59 EST

The only event of its kind in NYC and the largest in the state, Face to Face is a professional development conference for arts administrators, teaching artists, and others interested in the field of arts in education. The conference strives to demonstrate effective teaching and learning strategies for practitioners in the field of arts in education, as well as to provide forums for discussion of other critical issues such as policy and advocacy, assessment, fundraising, and organizational management. The conference encompasses approximately 45 break-out sessions, keynotes, a plenary session, and two networking events.

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is currently accepting applications to the NYSCA Face to Face Upstate (& Long Island) Arts Educator & NYC Unaffiliated Teaching Artists Subsidy Programs in conjunction with our upcoming Face to Face Conference on April 24-25. In order to be considered for either subsidy program, applications must be submitted by 11:59PM EST on March 11, 2019 via the online form below.

Please email all supplemental materials and questions to F2FNYSCAapplications@nycaieroundtable.org

 

NYSCA Face to Face Upstate (& Long Island) Arts Educator Subsidy Program

Qualified applicants from upstate New York and Long Island are invited to submit an application for funds toward the cost of travel and accommodation to attend the conference. With the support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable is offering 25 subsidies to qualified upstate and Long Island arts educators to attend Face to Face 2019.

Each subsidy includes the following:

  • $175 travel subsidy from a New York State location to NYC
  • $200 accommodation subsidy
  • $75 registration subsidy

Recipients must commit to attending the entire two-day conference.

CLICK HERE to see guidelines for Upstate NY Arts Educators Program.

 

NYSCA Face to Face NYC Unaffiliated Teaching Artist Subsidy Program

Up to 20 unaffiliated teaching artists based in New York City will receive a registration subsidy to attend the conference.

With the support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable is offering up to 20 subsidies to unaffiliated NYC teaching artists to attend Face to Face 2019. Each subsidy includes the following:

  • $75 registration subsidy

CLICK HERE to see guidelines for the NYC Unaffiliated Teaching Artists Program.

Recipients must commit to attending the entire two-day conference.

 

About the Roundtable: The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable is a member-driven organization for arts in education professionals who collaboratively provide and participate in high quality professional development programs for the arts in education community. The Roundtable is the only organization exclusively dedicated to provided networking, skills building, and best practice sharing for arts educators in New York. Currently, there are over 970 members, including 163 organizations. The Roundtable’s programs are rooted in the need for high quality arts education programs. Our goal is to assist arts educators to do their best work, helping students succeed in and through the arts. The Roundtable’s primary activities include our annual two-day Face to Face arts in education conference and monthly professional development programs. 

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.

 

Instrument Drive Changes Students Lives

Two years ago, WQXR held their first Instrument Drive with the goal of reaching 1,000 donated instruments to refurbish and distribute to music programs throughout NYC public schools. Little did they know, their goal would be surpassed by more than twice that, ending with over 2,500 donations within 10 days. Graham Parker, WQXR’s general manager, said he was surprised by the level of excitement behind the program. “I have been humbled by the personal stories that have accompanied many of the donations,” he said. “It becomes very real for people to think of their once-used instrument making its way into the hands of a student who can create new memories.” (1) This year, WQXR is launching its second drive from April 8-17, 2016, with the goal of collecting 6,000 instruments.

Many NYC public schools lack music programs, and the ones with them are often lacking in instruments or are in need of repair. The 2014 NYC State of the Arts reported that “from 2006 to 2013, there has been a 47 percent decline in arts programming funding and an even steeper decline in dedicated support for supplies such as musical instruments and other equipment, according to the comptroller’s report.” (2) Even though music and other arts have been proven to improve academics, they are always in danger of being lost due to budget cuts. “Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.” (3)

With the help of WQXR and thousands of generous donors, these instruments will be refurbished and distributed to students in NYC and Newark under-resourced music programs beginning in the fall of 2016. Teachers and administrators can also submit an application for their school to be considered to receive instruments.

Donate your used instrument and change a student’s life! Vsit giveinstruments.org/about to learn more and spread the word using #GiveMusicNYC.

 

Sources:
1. http://www.wqxr.org/#!/series/wqxr-musical-instrument-drive/
2. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/04/07/report-finds-state-of-the-arts-at-nyc-public-schools-lacking-in-lower-income-neighborhoods/
3. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-music-education

Confessions of a Teaching Artist Parent By Justin Daniel

When I received the news that twins were on the way, my thoughts went from “Oh my god, that’s amazing!” to “Oh my god, how do you take care of twins??!”, with every other thought in between.  After six months of twin daddy hood behind me, I can confidently say it is a joy to raise two amazing little humans, and as I continue to figure out the balance between raising children and maintaining a career as a teaching artist, I thought I would share with you some takeaways I’ve picked up along the way.

I AM TIRED… all the time! And to be specific, I am more tired than teaching five movement workshops in a row to incredulous 6th graders after taking two trains, a bus, with a walk. Honestly, I did that for an entire school year, and that doesn’t even begin to compare to the exhaustion I feel after a full day with infants! But somehow I find a way to give my all to my infants AND to my students. Who knew?

I am lucky to have the FLEXIBILITY OF TIME. Because the organizations I work for are so incredibly parent friendly, I have been able to find a great balance between my work life and home life. For the first three months, I taught very little in order to stay at home, but as I slowly eased my way back into my teaching I’ve been able to control the amount of hours I’m away from home and the general days I work. This makes childcare easier to book, and allows me to find the right balance for my family.

I am a NYC SCHOOL SLEUTH! I have always been interested in the inner workings of the DOE, but now that my kids will be part of it in just a few short years, I’m keenly aware of the inner workings of the schools I visit. I feel like a teaching artist detective, figuring out what makes a positive school culture, student engagement, and how parents are best involved.

PARENTING MAKES ME A BETTER TEACHING ARTIST, and vice versa. Even though my kids are still in the infant stage, I am becoming more attuned to how to engage their innate creativity, how to best use non-verbal communication, and tuning in to their subtle (and not so subtle) cues. I find myself using these same techniques in the classroom, and I’m constantly bringing my experience into the nursery as well. That being said, if you ever see me rocking back in forth for no particular reason, please tell me!

Teaching Artists are an INSTANT SUPPORT SYSTEM. I often find myself reaching out to my colleagues for parenting advice and to swap stories. It is an invaluable resource, and truly makes me feel like I’m part of a community, even when I’m on my own.

It’s much HARDER TO ACCEPT WORK as a parent. When I receive an offer for work, I have to weigh a slew of pros and cons to determine whether it’s a YES. Obviously, the financial reward needs to meet my childcare costs, but even then, is it worth spending time away from the babies? Sometimes, the answer is a definite yes, but sometimes even if it makes sense financially, it doesn’t make sense as a new parent. And I haven’t even begun to figure out the balance of new artistic pursuits beyond my teaching artistry!

Teaching Artistry is an extremely rewarding career for me, and I’m finding this even more true as a parent.  It’s not without its challenges, but I’m always inspired by the many teaching artist parents who consistently make it work.

For anyone expecting, or expecting to be expecting, here are some online resources I’ve found useful as a new parent!

p.s. If you have any tips for other teaching artist parents, please share them in the comments below!

Mommy Poppins – Great resources and articles!
www.mommypoppins.com

NYC Dads Group – While most blogs tend to skew female, here is an awesome resources for dads of all walks of life.  And they schedule great meetups!
http://citydadsgroup.com/nyc/

A Child Grows (parenting blog with an emphasis on my home Borough of Brooklyn.
http://achildgrows.com/

Park Slope Parents (even if you don’t live anywhere close to this parental enclave, there’s great advice here!)
www.parkslopeparents.com

Baby Bargains Book (thanks to fellow teaching artist Jamie Kalama-Wood for this recommendation.  Great deals can be found in this book!)
Link to Amazon

How do I explain what I do? By Yusef Miller for the Roundtable Teaching Artists Affairs Committee

  

            Um, I teach.

            Um, I’m a teacher. But not really?

            I’m an Actor. I work for Arts Education Organizations….What do I DO?

            Um, I’m called a Teaching Artist. A Theatre Teaching Artist.

Okay, I’ll give you the CV one-sentence summary.

I am an advocate for programming that utilizes theatre arts to help achieve literacy and educational objectives within youth populations.

But, that doesn’t really explain what I do. The truth is – I am finding my way. From this finding-my-way place, I have found myself in a system. This system claims to educate young people. This education is supposed to give them direction – school to college to career. But from street to class – they are harassed – presumed to be criminally minded – as they are bagged-checked and body frisked and in some case, manhandled by security – this is their entry to learning. Meanwhile, their Black and Latino families are stretched so far and so thin on a nation’s apathy. To come to school and be mishandled and unheard, students are like,

“Let me express myself, Ms. Let me take the whole class time for you to explore why I walk in late, why I’m eating in class, why I’m yelling back, why I’m speaking without raising my hand, why I need to take a break – to get out of your face, Ms. because you don’t understand that I don’t care what you know; I want to know if you CARE.”

I….I teach theatre as a tool of expression. I’m finding a way to connect to their content and modes of expression. It’s listening without judgment; it’s avoiding the urge to culturally critique. I’m finding a way to apply a theatrical lens to who they are and where they come from, FIRST. It’s like pulling teeth to ask them to tell a non-violent story or to imagine a delivery beyond the World Star videos. But, I’m finding a way to facilitate as community member, ally. Some times who I am appears to be an affront. I’m Black. Male. Educated. An Artist. I have expectations. AND I CARE. I’m never afraid to let them know I care. I’m never afraid to show them I care. I’m never afraid to speak to them frankly, familiarly, like nieces and nephews. I’m never afraid to buck the generational distance. I’m finding my way to impact using the skills I have. They reject what I know on some days. I’m finding varied ways to model the imagination at work. I want them to see the freedom one could gain from developing a character, a world, or rearticulating their circumstances for whatever purpose THEY choose.

I take a breath before delivering a monologue – I give them a thumb – one, two, three, the young audience is in no one’s syncopation. But I get it. I get them. I swallow. I begin my monologue. I hope I’m free enough to quell the side chatter – to ignite their risk taking. I am finding my way, knowing there is a way.

As flawed as that, I am a Theatre Teaching Artist and this is what I do. What do you do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Learners: What makes Ang Misyon so special?

Theodore Wiprud, July 23, 2015

Last week, I was in Manila with two New York Philharmonic teaching artists to explore the work of Ang Misyon – Tagalog for “the mission.” Ang Misyon, just three years old, aspires to be an El Sistema for the Philippines, modeled in a general way on Venezuela’s famous system of youth orchestras for impoverished children.   We spent time with the flagship ensemble, the Orchestra of Filipino Youth, and also out at nine satellites, some several hours’ drive from Manila.  Student ranged from true beginners, to quite accomplished teens.  Their neighborhoods ranged from what passes for middle class in Manila, to appalling poverty.  Our violinist Katie Kresek led group classes with up to 50 string players at a clip; our trombonist Stephen Dunn worked with anything from four brass players to a full-scale symphonic wind ensemble.  They both employed methods deriving from esthetic education, to improve both technique and musical understanding.

We went as teachers and resources, but there were many lessons for us to learn there.  What I keep thinking about is how well and how fast these students learn – really, virtually all 300 of them we saw.  Ang Misyon’s reach well exceeds its grasp: there are not remotely enough teachers, and most have little educational training.  There aren’t enough instruments, especially things like contrabasses and double reeds.  Yet somehow, we found students very well “set up” on their instruments.  And even more: focused, eager, and learning by leaps and bounds in the hour or so we had with each group. The changes in technique and sound were staggering.

Of course I attribute a lot of this to our fine teaching artists.  Great work, Steve and Katie!

But is there something special about these students and their circumstance?  One wants to say, they have so little; compared to most students in the US, they have less to distract and more incentive to expand their world.  But this sounds glib to me; it presumes more knowledge of their actual mid-set and environment than we could pick up in our brief encounters.  To the contrary, distracting smart phones are surprisingly common among these poor families: turns out they get “myphone” knockoffs for $15.  Seemingly every one of these kids is on Facebook.

One might also want to say that Filipinos are naturally musical.  That may be true, but again, it’s too easy, it avoids examining what’s going on here.

Without getting to know the students better, I can only speculate about their spongelike learning capacity.  But some of it surely has to do with their teachers.  However various their backgrounds, the teachers all really own “the mission” – giving kids the chance they had with music, developing discipline and compassion, creating beauty, opening new doors, improving lives.  Despite difficult teaching situations, lack of instruments and sheet music, uncertainty of attendance, all the challenges of working with impoverished families, these teachers bring a passion to their work that I think inspires the same in their students.

Then there’s a sense of purpose, of a goal: the Orchestra of Filipino Youth.  It may seem a small thing, but I was impressed that at every satellite, students wore a uniform polo or T-shirt with the name of their site, and always in the format “Orchestra of Bata’an Youth,”  “Orchestra of TayTay Youth,” etc.  They may be beginners, but they are in orchestras, and they are on their way up to the Orchestra of Filipino Youth, the flagship.  The goal is clear.  And when satellite students hear the OFY rehearse?  Their admiration is heart-rending.  They are imprinted with ambition to progress.

Finally, compassion.  There is a hefty social work aspect to any program focusing on poor kids.  Jovianney and Tinky Cruz – the husband/wife founders and Artistic Director and General Manager, respectively – make it a point to know every child and every family in every satellite.  When a child isn’t turning up, they find out what’s going on with the family and look for ways to help. No child is left behind –for real.  It isn’t only the kids at the Caloocan satellite, located in a girls’ orphanage, who look to the Cruz’s and Ang Misyon as surrogate parents.

All of which makes me wonder: how can we back in New York so inspire our teachers and teaching artists, that their students all become inspired learners?

Can we set goals, provide a payoff, even in non-skills based esthetic work, that motivate kids to exceed their own expectations?

Can we show so much care and commitment for each student, that they commit themselves as fully to learning?

And we thought we went to Manila to teach.