Are you listening?

Dear Friends,

Recently, National Guild for Community Arts Education published My Dearest Arts Organization, Are You Listening? (GuildNotes, Issue 1, 2021),a letter created by teaching artists to reflect on some of the challenges that they’ve faced during the multiple pandemics which have stricken the world.  The letter has been called a “breakup letter” because while teaching artists love the work, they often feel caught in a toxic relationship. In a time when equity and inclusion have become paramount, what does it mean when teaching artists want out of the field, when they are at the heart of the work?

A screenshot of the PDF version of the "My Dearest Arts Organization" letter.
(You can click the image to open the letter.)

We invite you to read the letter and consider:

  • What do I hear being said in the letter?
  • What resonates with me?
  • What can I do to change the power dynamic expressed?
  • Are teaching artists a priority in my organization?
  • Does my organization allow for honest critical feedback from TAs?
  • Does my organization have an accountability plan for feedback?
  • What do I want to know more about?

There is a follow-up checklist derived from the perspective of teaching artists as a guide to create a vibrant arts ecosystem that is equitable for all. We invite you to fill out the checklist and consider:

  • Which boxes can my organization check? Why/Why not?
  • What does my organization need to check every box?
  • What do I want to know more about?

We invite you to join a conversation where you can discuss your individual and organizational response to this article.  Together we can work to reimagine and rebuild this arts ecosystem so that it holds everyone.   

In the fall leaders from multiple agencies* will collaborate on a series to address specific ways to carry out the checklist recommendations. 

In solidarity,

Your colleagues at *Teaching Artists Guild, Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic, National Guild for Community Arts Education, Lincoln Center Education, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, New 42, and Community Word Project

CHECKLIST

A guide to strengthen your relationship with your teaching artists and sustain the entire arts ecosystem.

Enlist TAs, staff and board who reflect the identities of your constituents and embody values of racial and social justice.
Hire BIPOC leaders (board, administrators, and TAs)
Add your organization to the TAG Asset Map to show you are part of the support network for teaching artists and promote the TAG Asset Map to your TA rosters
Utilize the TAG Pay Rate Calculator to set your pay scale (if you aren’t able to meet the fee, provide a rationale and alternative compensation)
Bring TAs to the table and pay them for their expertise, time and energy:
  • Add TAs to your board (sans financial responsibility)
  • Include TAs in program development and assessment
Write a TA job description that honors TA professionalism, promotes TA sustainability, and outlines expectations, including:
  • how to deal with any potential conflicts
  • how program assessment and 360 staff/TA evaluation will be conducted
  • what materials are provided by the organization and supplied by the TA for the assignment (artistic tools and/or equipment for online teaching)
  • how intellectual property will be handled to acknowledge and benefit TA creator (especially in regard to digital assets)
  • how the TA is credited for program and curriculum development
  • what professional benefits will be granted to TAs
Make a donation to the TA associations/networks in your area

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