We Found Common Ground

This past Wednesday night, TAG co-hosted with  (TASC), , and the  a “Finding Common Ground” gathering, a conversation between credentialed arts specialists and teaching artists, in service of the project. The conversations we had last night will influence the creation of a Blueprint for Arts Education,  advancing an arts and creative education agenda for the State of California. We met at the Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, and TASC’s Sabrina Klein, who is spearheading this particular workgroup and hosting these gatherings around the state, facilitated with Ray Cagan from the Alameda County Office of Education, using

Some remarkable things happened.

First off, it had been suggested by numerous colleagues that putting credentialed arts specialists and teaching artists in the same room could get wild and crazy. These two groups have been known to be at odds! We should be on our toes, ready to use our finest facilitation, de escalation and peaceful communication techniques! As it turned out, however,  we were all quite excited to speak to one another. There is so much common ground already between credentialed specialists and teaching artists, and we can problem solve so much better as a group. The issues we identified were applicable to us all, and the conversation was permeated with a sense of camaraderie and punctuated by laughter and a lot of head nodding.

Secondly, in my list of remarkable things, this happened: I realized again just how important the work is we are doing around field building and pathways to professionalization. These issues came up across the board in last night’s conversations, and they have been resonating with so many of the people I speak with: how do I make this a sustainable career? How can my work be recognized as the vitally important thing it is, so I can get what other, less marginalized professions offer: a living wage and benefits?

To these ends, I want to update you with some of the advances we have been making.  TAG has been developing a system to recognize your achievements in education and the arts. Your pathway to this hybrid profession of a teacher who is an artist, an artist who is a teacher, is unique. There isn’t a set way from A to B in becoming a teaching artist, and for this reason, we come to the hiring table with a whole host of qualifications garnered from different institutions and experiences. This makes us special but it also sometimes makes it more difficult to understand our histories and treat us appropriately in the eyes of larger organizations and hiring institutions.

  • How do we prove our qualifications?
  • How do we present our special skill sets?
  • How are we verifiable?
  • What level are we at in our profession, and what specialties to we possess?
  • How much should we be paid accordingly?

We need recognition and codification, not in a way that will stifle our creative spirits and lessen our opportunities, but rather serve who we are as individual creatives and support us in building a professional career, whichever of the myriad and fabulous paths we take to get there.

I believe we have the answer. TAG is building a system using badges to recognize your accomplishments, education, specialization and experience in your fields, in a way that will be respected, and become the standard for, hiring organizations and other institutions. It will be verifiable, artist-centered, and live happily at the junction of technology, education, arts, and the grassroots notion that your path is unique and valuable.

Look to us soon as we roll this out.



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