Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art is Change

“How and when does art release, create, and sustain transforming power for social change?”

That's the easy question asked by eight community-arts leaders who took part in a cooperative inquiry process* which brought them together to explore a self- devised question:

The results of the process are contained in a useful report titled Can the Arts Change the World? (PDF)

I want to say I know the answer already.

* According to the report: "Cooperative inquiry (CI) is a participatory research technique in which a small group of participants use their own experience to generate insights around an issue that is of burning concern to all of them."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Get Insured

While they talk and talk about it in Washington, you might feel like it would be cool to have insurance now, or soon, instead of never. NYC Health Insurance Link online tool will help you scour the universe for health insurance that meets your needs and your budget, right now.

Learn more at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Play by the Rules

Did you know that more than 5,000 children are expelled from pre-K programs each year because classroom teachers can't control them? I had no idea.

In a lengthy Sunday Magazine Article, the New York Times reports on that, and on researchers who are trying to prove that "imaginary play" can help young children learn how to exercise self control. More precisely, researchers are looking at something called "executive function."

From the article:
Originally a neuroscience term, it (executive function) refers to the ability to think straight: to order your thoughts, to process information in a coherent way, to hold relevant details in your short-term memory, to avoid distractions and mental traps and focus on the task in front of you. And recently, cognitive psychologists have come to believe that executive function, and specifically the skill of self-regulation, might hold the answers to some of the most vexing questions in education today.
If this research turns out to be significant, maybe adults could be offered remedial work on the college level.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Message from Dale Davis

From ATA Executive Director, Dale Davis:

Our numbers on the listserv continue to grow!

(There are also 524 ATA members on Facebook.)

The Survey

Thank you to Fractured Atlas, Teaching Artists Organized (Bay Area California), Chicago Teaching Artists Collective, and Young Audiences of Western New York for helping ATA spread the word about our national Teaching Artists and Their Work Survey accessed at

If you have not completed the survey yet, please! We, also, continue to need your help with distribution of the survey. We would like to see it distributed nationally to reach as many Teaching Artists as possible. ATA's focus in this survey is Teaching Artists' experiential knowledge. We ask you to share your knowledge, your stories, and what your experience as a Teaching Artist has taught you. Thank you.

National Arts and Humanities Month

October is National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM), a coast-to- coast collective celebration of culture in America. It is held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts. It is the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the nation. From arts center open houses to mayoral proclamations to banners and media coverage, communities across the United States join together to recognize the importance of arts and culture in our daily lives. New York State Senator José M. Serrano recently introduced a resolution in the New York State Senate designating October as Arts Education Month.

And as part of the Arts and Humanities Month and October as Arts Education Month, ATA is celebrating those New York State and national arts and culture organizations who provide Teaching Artists with good incomes from steady work, who always put the Teaching Artist first, who honor Teaching Artists' schedules and skills, who offer competitive wages, who are always looking for new opportunities for work for Teaching Artists, and who provide professional development. ATA is asking Teaching Artists to help us celebrate the importance of arts and cultural organizations in our lives!

We will be posting the arts and cultural organizations you want to celebrate on during October!

Please e-mail me the arts and cultural organization you want to celebrate. Please include the name of the organization, location, a bit about the organization, your reasons, the url, and a photo of the Executive Director or an organizational photo you would like to have included.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, help us get the survey out, and recognize the wonderful organizations who make the world a better place for Teaching Artists!


Dale Davis
Executive Director
The Association of Teaching Artists

Reading Rainbow

I know you are a busy person, but have you noticed that, all this week, Americans for the Arts has been launching its new arts education blog with a blogging marathon? About 30 "bloggers" have set out to deliver posts on a wide range of sometimes surprising topics, such as increasing access to the arts for special needs students (no surprise here) and jail(?!).

Among the many excellent, Laura Reeder of Partners for Arts Education posts on the Qualities of Quality, and Arnold Aprill of Chicago Arts Partnership in Education introduces readers to Building Curriculum, Community and Leadership through the Arts (BCCLA) as a project model for innovative and rewarding ways to support local arts teachers.

I read about it on Twitter. Which, at 140 characters, is basically the future in a nutshell.

Next week: It's All Happening at the Zoo.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let's Start

Last night, in Tribeca, Urban Arts Partnership hosted an event called The Promise of Arts Education, a panel featuring Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Arnold Aprill of CAPE, High School Principals Scott Conti of New Design, and Gillian Smith of Facing History, along with Paul King of DOE---who apparently has our back. The event addressed questions on how the arts can drive innovation in public education, and did I mention the snacks? Below, I have posted what I can decipher from my notes.

These are the things I heard panelists say in response to questions--"quotes." I should tell you that I scribbled these notes in the dark, while using my phone as a flashlight, and devouring canapes.

"Call to action."




"Art is the fabric..."





"...different curriculum organizers..."

" paradigm..."

"Good art programs are, first of all, good for kids."


"...students have made choices, and can talk about them."

'...traditional education doesn't work for many kids...."

"...redefining our relationship to the local community..."

"We have to start developing different metrics for testing the arts..."


"Space race"



"Disconnected youth..."

"What does art do to ameliorate...?"

"...arts integration?"

" instruction?"


"...student engagement..."

"Thank you."

Also: Fela Kuti - Let's Start

*That was me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vissi D'arte

The Metropolitan Opera opened its new season, and the New York Times says they have already been forced to defend their new tradition-busting production of Tosca.

I recently learned about the world-renowned opera's Score Desk ticket program, which was created "for music students of all ages and for the visually impaired." Score desk seats are located somewhere inside the Metropolitan Opera House, but they offer "no view of the stage." Patrons are assured that the acoustics are "excellent from this location." Tickets are $16 for regular people and $14 for Guild Members.

Or: Tosca Act II - Leontyne Price

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Bite

Hey, there's this cool panel on Wednesday, and I think we should all go.

The Promise of Arts Education:
A Panel on How the Arts Can Drive Innovation in Public Education

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
92Y Tribeca
200 Hudson, NY, NY

6:30: Cocktails & Networking

7:15: Panel and Q&A

This event is free, by invitation.

RSVP required.

Get more information:

I have heard from good authority that there will be decent snacks--which either means the recession is over, or the funders are coming.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quiet Riot

When I am in need of thoughts on meaning-making education, the arts and/or social change, I visit Unlocking the Classroom, because it is written by a teaching artist who does just that.

This week, the third post in a series on love, and a Zora Neal Hurston qoute introduces a documentary on dance.

Most wonderful.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ground Control

At least the pre-Copernican mind was sure of its place in the universe. What is a teaching artist? How to define a community that represents such a wide range of disciplines? How do you advocate for teaching artists, when some of them don't even know what they are yet? How do you train teaching artists in the first place? What do we need to know? Should all teaching artists have the same pedagogical foundation, or are we still just using whatever works for us?

What's on your mind?

Please complete the latest ATA survey and join all your "friends" on Facebook.

Also: Dionne Warwick - Don't Make Me Over

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twenty One

Sometimes, I have twenty questions. For instance, how is a TA supposed to live on 5 part-time after-school gigs in 3 different boroughs that each pay $50/hour twice a week when the train costs $90 month and the average one bedroom is $2500, and you can't be in two places at once? What do you think when you hear the phrase "planning time is included?" If we're supposed to be both good artists and effective teachers, do we need two advanced degrees? If so, shouldn't the hourly rate be higher? Whose lesson plan is this? Which ones are the solid earning years for a TA? Where are the mentoring programs? What happens to all the older TAs? I know you are there, but weren't there more of you? Did your colleagues all become administrators, advocates and philosophers in residence? Or, did they just all quit and get real jobs? Are they eating? Can they pay their bills? Can you? Why does everyone keep asking me to volunteer?

Also: Alice Russell - Seven Nation Army

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The New School

The New York Times says a free, unaccredited, art school has opened in Manhattan.

It may be true, but what does it mean?

I really couldn't tell you.

All I can decipher is that the Bruce High Quality Foundation is starting their own school and you are invited. They say interesting things on their website, such as: "we aspire to invest the experience of public space with wonder..."

Right on.

Also: Jay-Z w/ Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (MTV)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Supply Side

The Music National Service Corps is piloting a “music volunteerism” network called MusicianMentors that they say will expand access to music education and improve youth achievement in underserved public schools and communities.

Someone will have to explain to me why recruiting new volunteers in the middle of the worst unemployment in recent American history is a priority.

Shouldn't we be talking about real job creation for Teaching Artists?

Also: Dennis Baker examines the myth of the starving artist.

Plus: Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone (1966)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Reasons That We Live

It's going to be quite a week around here. It's all about professionalization, again, because we are focused on it. We seek improvement in the situation.

Please, complete the newest ATA survey.

Also, two versions of the same song, by the magnificent, and late, Minnie Ripperton.

Reasons (Live on Soul Train w/ an interview.)

Reasons (album)

Developing the Professional Identity of the Teaching Artist

I wonder if you wonder what teaching artists are thinking?

I do.

Here is a 3-minute trailer for Developing the Professional Identity of the Teaching Artist; an interactive workshop and performance piece, created by colleagues Annie Montgomery, Courtney Boddie, Sharon Counts, Edie Demas, David Montgomery, Sobha Kavanakudiyil Paredes, Heidi Stallings and me.


In 2007, Judith Tannenbaum posted an excellent entry on Arts Blog about the ongoing professionalization of the Teaching Artist:

That’s the question I’d like now to ponder: What do we teaching artists, students, program administrators, site partners, community activists cherish about the work of art in other places, as Bill Cleveland calls it, as it has been practiced over the decades? What do we want not to lose as teaching artistry becomes a more formal field?

If you ever feel like you need to talk about these things, ATA is on Facebook, and everyone is on Twitter:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Survey Says

From ATA Executive Director, Dale Davis:

In response to your concerns, discussions with Teaching Artists, and with input from beginning, mid-career, and experienced Teaching Artists, ATA announces a new ATA survey on

Teaching Artists and Their WorkAn ATA Survey:
What are Meaningful, Supportive, and Sustainable Employment Environments for the Work of a Teaching Artist?

ATA's focus in this survey is Teaching Artists' experiential knowledge. We ask you to share your knowledge, your stories, and what your experience has taught you.
Please complete the survey and help us to distribute the survey as widely as possible, to as many Teaching Artists as possible. ATA's focus in this survey is Teaching Artists' experiential knowledge. We ask you to share your knowledge, your stories, and what your experience has taught you.
Thank you,

Dale Davis
Executive Director
The Association of Teaching Artists

Star Maps, a multimedia project of NASA, encourages cosmic sightseeing.

Tonight's Sky.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Radio, Radio

I've been thinking, if we're all going to get certified, we'll probably need to know how to talk traditional educator-speak about our standards of quality and what not.

The spectacular Jane Remer thinks we should devise our own tests, before they do it to us:

What Can We Do to Make the Arts Count As Education?

My argument is a version of the old saw, what gets tested gets taught, and if we are smart, we will begin to devise the fair and challenging "tests" ourselves before someone else starts forcing standardized or inappropriate tests on us. We need to sift through our vast collective experience and figure out how to carefully blend quantitative and qualitative methods that will capture the essence of art learning. I believe we have ample, field-tested examples of productive methods using, perhaps, a version of collaborative practitioner research, that we can draw on to design more complex research, assessments and evaluations that won't break the bank.

Over at Education Week, Diane Ravitch, needs no introduction:
So, I grant the good intentions of the groups that hope to create national standards. I know why they want to do it, and I wish them well. At the same time, I am cautious, perhaps even wary, because I see how many terrible state standards already exist and fear that the same dumbed-down, vague blather might be foisted upon the nation and called “standards.”

Also: Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio

Wednesday, September 9, 2009



"From Plato to Playdough"
with Arlene Shmaeff (Museum of Children's Art)
September 14
What TAs need to know about what teachers are taught

An overview of the key education theories that inform classroom teacher training. This is an information-packed workshop, hands-on & interactive.

This grounding in education theories workshop is an excellent companion to the September 12 Teaching Artist Institute exploration of arts learning pedagogies.
Cost: $12 donation, sliding scale; free to those who attend the
Sept. 12 Teaching Artists Institute
Register now for both workshops on the TAO Website.

MoCHA (Museum of Children's Art) is located at 538 Ninth Street, Oakland. Classes are 6 to 8:00 pm.

Also: Jetblue

Plus: Betty Hutton - Orange Colored Sky

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There is a big conversation about Teaching Artists and certification taking place at Dewey21C.

This issue raises so many questions.

Most of mine are about money.

I read that Studio in a School has this training program where you can get credentialed through Pratt.

The Long Term Program has a credential component that visual artists can take part in. It is an intensive art teacher certification program designed to establish well-trained, licensed art teachers in New York City public schools. STUDIO IN A SCHOOL (STUDIO) selects professional artists, who are committed to teaching children, to participate in this partially-sponsored certification program. Artists accepted into this component fulfill all of the employment requirements of the Long Term Program during the two-year full-time Phase One, PLUS complete all certification requirements through Pratt Institute’s graduate Program in Art & Design.

What you will receive:

• Full-time salaried employment with health insurance

• All training and a portion of the tuition for education credits required for certification (as per Pratt Institute) will be paid for by STUDIO IN A SCHOOL

Mentoring and training for the art teaching residency by established STUDIO IN A

SCHOOL artists

• Two full years to work side-by-side in the art studio with classroom teachers;

planning together to ensure that a strong art program is integrated with other

curricular goals, and gradually developing the classroom management skills

required for teaching independently

Also: Barbra - Everybody Says Don't

Back to School

Summer is over.

Get back to work.

Also, President Barack Obama has released the text of his back to school speech.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How Things Work

Professional TAs who are eagerly awaiting a new government-sponsored health care plan, should read the New York Times to find out how things actually work.

A White House compromise, being discussed by people who all have excellent doctors, would have government offering its own health plan only if private insurers failed to provide "affordable" coverage. This reasonable sounding alternative is similar to a plan that was instituted in 2003 for prescription drug benefits. In that case, says the Times, "private insurers, seeing a lucrative business opportunity, rushed into the market, and...the Medicare drug benefit is thus delivered entirely by private insurers under contract with the federal government."

If this plan works, people who own insurance companies are going to get so much more rich!

Happy Labor Day.

Also: Capitalism! @ Youtube

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Want To Go To There

I was surfing over at Partners for Arts Education, and I followed a link to read about one of their school partnership initiatives called Arts In Mind.

The mission statement:

"The mission of Arts in Mind is to increase potential for student achievement through more equitable access, alignment, integration, and professional development of cultural resources into whole-school planning."

Sometimes, I recognize words, but the full meaning eludes me. I usually just keep reading.

Then, this:

"Professional Development - Teachers and teaching artists train and plan together to develop best practices for their classrooms."


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Job Description

What is the role of the Teaching Artist in the classroom?

There may be no simple answer, but it's a question worth considering before you arrive.

In June, in a symposium broadcast on the web, Teaching Artists gathered together at the Seattle Art Museum to chat about these important issues. This worthy event was hosted by the Dana Foundation ( and it is available online.

With all this new technology, it's just like being there. Only, you don't get to go to Seattle.

Watch streaming video of the event.

This video is also available on the ATA Homepage through a special agreement with the Dana Foundation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Feed Your Head

There are so many professional TAs trying to make a living in the freewheeling Bay Area that they've organized. Starting in September, Teaching Artists Organized (TAO), a new local service organization, will offer a three-part professional development series in Berkeley, California.

Teaching Artists Organized.

I love the name.

It’s like a wish.

@ Cal Shakes' rehearsal hall 701 Heinz in Berkeley (off Seventh and San Pablo) -- get directions.

* Saturday, Sept 12: PEDAGOGY SPEED DATING: Overviews and Introductions From Key Teaching Artist Schools of Practice for the TA in the know. * Keith Terry, of CrossPulse, opens the day with an interactive workshop on body music and kinesthetic movement. Presenters include: Arlene Schmaeff (Museum of Children's Art); Rica Anderson (Cal Performances); Sabrina Klein (creative education consulting); Dave Maier (Berkeley Rep School of Theatre); Tana Johnson (Alameda County Office of Education); Sarah Lenoue (Visual Thinking Strategies); Jill Randall (Shawl-Anderson Dance Studio).

For some reason, these sessions are not free. In fact, they cost money.

Also: Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit