What can the Teaching Artists Guild do for you? In this video, Co-Executive Director Heleya de Barros breaks down the various tools found on teachingartists.com that can help you navigate your teaching artist career.

Our Mission

Teaching Artists Guild (TAG), is a practitioner-led community which raises the visibility and development of artists who teach.

Our Vision

We imagine a world where to be human is to be an artist. Where every person has access to culturally relevant arts expression. Where artists are honored and equitably paid. We work towards this vision through:


We work with partners at the regional, state, national, and international levels to advocate for the work of teaching artists and to forge pathways that will strengthen, develop, and evolve our field both within and outside of the sector.


We honor the skill, passion, and experience of teaching artists by celebrating and amplifying their impact.


We provide teaching artists with the tools to grow and thrive.


We bring teaching artists together to connect, collaborate, create, and learn from one another.


We imagine new pathways to create work, new connections to strengthen the field, and new opportunities to create a stronger ecosystem in support of teaching artistry.

Strategic Planning Process Executive Summary Report to Date

Phases I & II, Submitted by Studio Pathways, LLC, Feb 1, 2021

“The Banyan Tree”: The Story of TAG Strategic Planning Process as Podcast


Using a creative inquiry-based process, Studio Pathways (SP) met with the Teaching Artists Guild (TAG), now the lead organization in merger with the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA), to identify a future vision for its work and impact, including considerations of growth in size and scope of services, as well as its organizational structure. Our goal was to outline strategic priorities and develop an action plan to guide what will combine to be TAG’s work over the next three years, while strengthening the relationships and integration of key stakeholders.


Strategic planning is the practice of looking beyond the immediate future in order to reach a particular set of goals and developing the step-by-step actions of how the org is going to get there.  Transformative strategic planning is not only about reaching a final destination, but developing internal capacities and processes for reflection on the origins, strengths, and present moment needs at the heart of any community-based programs and endeavors. 

Our approach has strengthened continuous growth (internal and external) and emphasized culturally responsive strategies to support racial and social justice. Our methods for transformative strategic planning integrated elements of participatory decision making, facilitative leadership, restorative story circles, and experiential learning. In addition, we used a “studio” structure/ design that allows participants to fully absorb needed information, diligently explore that information in artistic ways, and gainfully act and reflect on the connections, ideas, and lessons learned.


Phase I: Assessment - Where Are We?

In Phase One, we assisted TAG and ATA in the transitional process of combining organizations and restructuring. We worked together to assess the current situation and identify the factors and decisions that led to this moment.  Data collection and environmental scanning were conducted through survey responses and key stakeholder interviews to better understand current operations and to identify strategic issues to address. 

Inquiries included: 

  • Programming: “What programs have you engaged with and/or would like to see go forward?”
  • Teaching Artist Equity: “What are current primary needs and/or disparities facing the Teaching Artist community, from your perspective?”
  • Communications: “What TAG (ATA) communications have been or could be most useful?”
  • Organizational Culture: “What is your experience of the culture of TAG/ATA”
  • Strengths/Challenges: “What are some potential strengths and/or challenges for TAG/ATA? Please name any below (i.e. funding, raising awareness, engagement, recruitment, etc.)”
  • Priorities: “What future issue areas do you see as priorities for the org?” and…“What do you love, observe, value or see evolving in TAG/ATA?”

The following Emergent Values, Themes and Issues informed the Strategic Planning Process.

“What do you love, observe, value or see evolving in TAG/ATA?” (Distilled Sample Responses)

  • Connecting national, diverse groups.
  • Many perspectives, resources, professional development, advocacy and representation for teaching artistry.
  • Collaborative nature/collective passion for supporting teaching artists and community-based arts.
  • Explicit social justice stance this year including focusing on BIPOC teaching artists’ stories and practices and diversification of the field
  • TAG: Hard resources (TA Pay Calculator, TA Asset Map, Quarterly Magazine)
  • ATA: Community Spaces (ATA awards, use of social media)
  • Focus on serving a segment of workers that don’t have a lot of protection, voice a field where employers have a significant voice.
  • Focus on creating tools.
  • Maximizing impact with modest resources.
  • Promote the value of artist partnerships, and to help empower artists who wish to do the work by providing the support they need.

“I’ve always seen creativity as being about thinking, feeling, and doing differently. I think this is one of the big gifts teaching artists share with others — and I think the potentially radical imagination that teaching artists can nurture in others is especially needed in this political moment. I also believe teaching artists are the heart of community arts programming, yet they are too often excluded from decision-making about the arts programs and organizations that they make possible and that are their livelihood. I think it’s important that an organization exists that puts teaching artists first, celebrates them, broadcasts their value, lifts up their voices, and advocates for them to be treated well — equitably and justly.”

Phase II: Vision & Goal Setting - Where do we want to go? How will we get there?

Phase two was clearly developed on the ideal desired outcome for the organization. SP engaged with current leadership in facilitated strategic planning sessions to set a new vision and to clarify mission, values and ethics. The session focused on explorations of the following inquiries as a community: What is the core organizational structure? How does the current climate impact decisions? What will TAG look like 3-5 years from now? What is the “Brightest Story” Seven generations from now? How will TAG define success?

Together we considered core concepts from building a collective “Brightest Story”, analyzing culture, programs, equity, communications, culture, commitments, strengths, challenges & issues coming to the forefront for the group. From the Brightest Story, we engaged in a backwards mapping process, naming the org’s primary long-term vision and intentions including:

  • Connecting to the conditions that are necessary to achieve this vision.
  • Identifying current understanding of the present context, centering culture & connection to the people most impacted.
  • Identifying the actions that the collective performed to create the desired change.
  • Developing authentic and iterative measures and assessments of progress.
  • Writing/creating a narrative to explain the logic of this journey.

An implementation plan in consideration of the needs, strengths, and resources of the organization will continue into Phase III.

We then collectively looked at the “Attributes of Cultural Strategy” out of the U.C. Berkeley Othering and Belonging Institute and the work of john a. powell & Gerald Lenoir & Evan Bissell as a way of assessing resonance and ethical stance.


Ongoing Consideration of Vision/Mission/Ethics: Otherwise known as “Radical Love” a deliberate renaming and intention set to lead for Equity at core and throughout TAG’s work. These in-progress inquiries will draw upon language from Brightest Stories, current Mission/Vision and/or statements currently in use such as the Teaching Artist Manifesto to be completed over time as the organization merges and coalesces: 

  • What does advocacy look like on a national scale? 
  • What is outside of the community but benefits the community? 
  • What unifies “us” as members of TAG? Is it our job? Our artistry? Our practice? 
  • Who is our constituency? What binds us, and where do we differ? 
  • What are the values that aren’t negotiable, and where are the ones we will be continually navigating through the process of building community? 
  • Participant-centered and challenging hierarchies/right vs wrong thinking, culturally responsive pedagogy – are there core values that transcend pedagogy/artform/worksite/audience? Are shared values always shared? 
  • Can we all value community-building/space-holding in process/art-making?
  • Can we work in a commitment to taking risks that matter on behalf of teaching artists? Can we speak boldly, not being afraid to ruffle feathers or name the elephant in the room? 

Emerging Strategic Action Plan Focus: 

Need to advocate for things that make teaching artistry a sustainable career for individuals, including but not limited to wages, skill-building, joy, community-building and connection. 

Additionally, initial artistic “Theory of Change” drafts were developed.

“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”—James Baldwin

TAG’s Collective Brightest Story,
Seven Generations into the Future:
“The world is engaged in collective art making.
People are supporting and honoring one another.
Small communities are engaged in collective art making,
food making,
Nature making.
But not all parts of the collective are the same.
Caretaking happens using many skills.
Relics of the past exist.
Reclaiming what was, what is possible.
Centering the Radical Imagination, Radical Love.”

Further Resources: 

Upcoming: 2022

Phase III: Organizational Development—What structures and strategies will best serve TAG in the years ahead? 

Our History

Teaching Artists Guild (TAG)

2004 – TAG began as Teaching Artists Organized (TAO) led by a group of passionate Teaching Artists and arts educators.

2008 – TAO became a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.

2010 – Sabrina Klein became the first Executive Director. With the help of Belinda Taylor she established a leadership Executive Committee, including Miko Lee, Jess Mele, Lynn Johnson, Mary Sutton and Dave Maier.

2011 – The Executive Committee took over the leadership and re-envisioned the organization to build a broader coalition and structure.

2013 – We rebranded the organization as Teaching Artists Guild and hired staff.

2014 – Executive Director Jean Johnstone established a National Advisory Committee, and TAG grew to provide services, tools, and community for Teaching Artists across the US.

2020 – TAG and Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) merged into one nonprofit organization by and for teaching artists. With this merger, TAG established a shared leadership model led by Co-Executive Directors Miko Lee and Heleya de Barros.

2021 – Miko Lee stepped down as Co-ED and rejoined the NAC, replaced by NAC member Katie Rainey. 

2022 – Heleya de Barros stepped down as Co-ED and rejoined the NAC, replaced by NAC member Kerry Warren. 

Association of Teaching Artists (ATA)

The Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) was founded at a summit in Poughkeepsie, New York in April 1998. New York State teaching artists, arts administrators, and leaders in statewide arts funding came together at the request of The New York State Council on the Arts to consider the need and feasibility of forming a statewide organization for teaching artists. ATA was incorporated in September 1998 and officially introduced to the NYS Arts Education field at the annual Arts Education conference in October 1998.

Founding Board of Directors, September 1998:
Dale Davis
Diane Gallo
Chris Holder
Naaz Hosseini
Julie Kabat
Alan Lynes
David Marquis
Katy Nyerlin-Colletti
Almeta Whitis

In 2002, ATA created the ATA Distinguished Service to the Field Award, the first award in New York State in the Arts in Education field. Dale Davis, one of the founding teaching artists at the 1998 summit and former Board President of ATA, became ATA’s first Executive Director in 2006. In 2011, ATA convened the first National Teaching Artists Forum in New York City. In 2012, ATA introduced Teaching Artist Appreciation Week (the third week in May) to celebrate the work of individual teaching artists. In 2018, ATA expanded their awards to recognize innovation and allies in the teaching artistry fields as well. In 2019, ATA launched the Digital Professional Development Series in order to provide low-cost, accessible PD for TAs across the country.

Throughout its history ATA was and is a common space to share resources and jobs for teaching artists through their online forums. Many people in the field fondly remember the Yahoo listserv that was started as an open forum where anyone could ask questions, post jobs and trainings across the New York region (that’s evolved into TAG’s new slack!). In 2020 ATA joined forces with TAG in order to serve more TAs on a national scale.,

Our Funders

and Panta Rhea Foundation, Fenwick Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and Lauren Dudley.

TAG’s nonprofit Tax ID: 14-1808163