Saturday, December 26, 2009

Eric Booth: Why I Support ATA

Why I Support ATA

by Eric Booth

I just snail mailed my support check to ATA in thanks for all they do.

A few years ago, I was in a discussion at Harvard Project Zero about whether teaching artists should try to create a non-profit national service organization. We thought about what those service organizations actually do, and what it takes to sustain them, and it kept not adding up as a the right next step for our growing field. We asked ourselves, "What is it that we really need, and how can we provide that without creating another institution that doesn't feel like 'us'?"

The answer that arose was that for now what we needed most was information, ways to communicate with one another, and a responsive lead group that can prompt us as needed. We need time to authentically grow into what we want to become. At that time I realized that the ATA was doing exactly what the field needed, and doing it well. If we can support it well (and we haven't done that well to date--our ATA leaders work heroically without adequate support), we can grow authentically to become what we want to be as a field. Thank you ATA--my check is in the mail.

Eric Booth

Editor's Note:

Contributions to ATA are tax-deductible, and may be made here.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why I Support ATA

Why I Support ATA

By Phil Alexander

The soloist enchants us, while the choir provides us with incomparable depth and richness.

The poem delights us, while the book creates an entirely new universe for us.

The sculpture engages us, while the museum opens us up to brand new understandings.

The lesson teaches us, while the whole course transforms us.

Simply put, collective action reaches us deeper and lasts longer than individual experiences.

ATA is the embodiment of collective action, it's a collective voice, a unified chorus of individuals who often cannot be heard. The incomparable listserve , the ATA website, and the blog are just a few of the most obvious tools in which ATA collects and shares the voices of teaching artists. The
board and staff of ATA are committed to hearing the needs of teaching artists, and sharing your concerns with the world at large. We have plans to provide more opportunities and events for teaching artists in the future, such as the first Teaching Artists conference, but with assorted financial challenges, everything must be reconsidered and no opportunity is secure.

During this period of appeals and gift giving, it's hard to claim that one cause is more worthy than others. So I'm left asking this question: What will be heard, if ATA"s voice is silenced?

Philip A. Alexander, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer
ESP Office of Partnership Support and Research

Editor's Note:

Contributions to ATA are tax-deductible, and may be made here.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Support Group

Sometimes, a teaching artist needs a break, and today is that day. Before it's all over, please consider making a donation to the Association of Teaching Artists.

If you have utilized ATA's treasure trove of resources, including the ATA Listserv and Facebook Page, then making a donation is a spectacular way to help make sure those sites are still around next year.

Your gift celebrates ATA's vital role as a support system for teaching artists just like you. Give an amount that is meaningful and significant for your circumstances. Every dollar helps Executive Director Dale Davis, Glenn McClure and the entire Board of Directors of ATA continue to advocate on behalf of teaching artists everywhere.

Contributions to ATA are tax-deductible, and may be made here.

Thank you.

Memo: Until the new year, postings will occur with less regularity, because all work and no. Thanks for reading ATA Blog!

Our text for the day is from The Pillow book of Sei Sh┼Źnagon, translated by Ivan, I. Morris:


It is delightful when there has been a thin fall of snow; or again when it has piled up very high and in the evening we sit round a brazier at the edge of the veranda with a few congenial friends, chatting till darkness falls. There is no need for the lamp, since the snow itself reflects a clear light. Raking the ashes in the brazier with a pair of fire-tongs, we discuss all sorts of moving and amusing things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Support ATA!

A Note from ATA Board Member Georgia A. Popoff

Support ATA

The messages on the listserve are such a value to the community of teaching artists who are members of this forum. The information that ATA Executive Director Dale Davis provides daily creates a tool for constant professional development and opportunity for us all. The listserve, with the daily comprehensive blogs by Michael Wiggins, the various links to so much to support each of us in pursuit of our careers as artists who teach, all of these aspects of the service that ATA provides to each of us are extremely valuable.

If each member of the listserve donated just $10 to ATA in some way (the Pay-Pal option on line, a check sent via standard mail, etc.), ATA could increase its budget by 50%, leading to greater longevity and more that could be provided.

Please consider ATA as one of the organizations you will include on your list of gifts this season. It is a gift that will offer each of us a daily return.

Georgia A. Popoff

Poet & Teaching Artist
Board Member - Association of Teaching Artists

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Message from ATA

A Message from ATA

I'm writing to you as the Board Chair of ATA.

ATA could not work without you. At the heart of ATA's accomplishments are the ideas and efforts of Teaching Artists across the country. We need your continued help to keep ATA responsive and vital.

I encourage you to visit and check out the comprehensive spectrum of tools for Teaching Artists we offer.

In addition to the website:

The listserv

The blog

ATA on Facebook

ATA's surveys are critical resources for communicating and supporting Teaching Artists.

We rely on you to support our efforts. Please make a donation today.

Happy Holidays!

Glenn McClure

Board Chair, The Association of Teaching Artists

Friday, December 18, 2009

Outside Artists

At CAN, an essay by artist/educator Jerri Allyn examines the "tension between community arts and the academy", posing the hard questions like "Who are the experts?" and "What's good enough?"

The essay segues into a fun interview, in which Ms. Allyn asks her brother Peter McCracken, a musician who dropped out of Tufts and thrived nonetheless, if any colleges have started to offer "a degree in the blues?"

The answer seems to be no, but the notion gets funnier the longer I think about it.

In any case, with or without the imprimatur of colleges and universities, teaching artists are managing to do this work, every day, without fail.

Finally: Chaka Khan - I'm Every Woman.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Behavioral Problems

Classroom management issues can be debilitating. When Monday rolls around, anticipating the arrival of a "difficult class" can rob your entire practice of a sense of joy. Of course, since there is no quality teaching without a sense of joy, the problem is compounded. If there is no colleague in the building to commiserate with, or no time to problem-solve classroom management issues, a bad situation can get worse.

How do we encourage young people to participate? How do we proceed when student behavior is disruptive? How can we transform our relationship to students so that classroom management is not about discipline?

In his book Encouraging Children to Learn, Rudolf Driekurs presents a radical re-thinking of our relationship to the concept of discipline. Instead of reward and punishment, he argues that children should be made aware of logical consequences for their behavior.

A radical idea.

In the news:
Detroit's unemployment rate nears 50%.

The number of people applying for Food Stamps is rising fast.

Uncertainty grows about whether the Imperial Senate will be able to pass a health care bill before 2010.

Goldman Sachs is having the best year ever!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Artists in Communities

The University Settlement's Performance Project cultivates new audiences for live performance by reaching out to those who have little access to the arts, and providing opportunities for community members to engage with working artists.

Teaching artists at the Settlement's relatively new Houston Street building, facilitate arts workshops in a variety of disciplines including visual arts, dance and theater.

The Performance Project also has a Curated Rental Program. Selected productions are marketed as part of the organization's season.

The application process for both the Artist-in-Residence Program and the Curated Rental Program is below:
  • Mail or send an email to the arts program curator, Alison Fleminger at
  • Please include the lead artist(s) bio, resume and one page description of your current project. Highlight how you use the arts to engage with diverse communities.
  • Please provide either links to performance footage or a DVD of a past performance.
  • Please be sure to follow up with a phone call to Ms. Fleminger at 212.453.4532

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How To Do That

Most professional teaching artists are freelancers. If a TA is lucky and has a lot of clients, this can mean a considerable amount of time in the field, and little time to manage the flood of paperwork and emails that are the millstones of success. Over at her excellent blog Minutiae & Flux, professional teaching artist, and colleague, Carla Ching posts on this very topic.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is a book by David Allen, but the GTD Cheat Sheet @ summarizes the book in a page or two, because who has time?

Over at Unlocking the Classroom, professional teaching artist Lizzie Hetzer writes on Freire, bell hooks, Radical Love and Buddhism, all of which can make time management issues seem like background noise.

In the News: The Teaching Artist Union has meetings, and the deadline for proposals to the Common Ground Arts Education Conference is fast approaching, which means it is today.

Unemployment hovers at just above 10%. Make those dollars before the winter break! Luckily, many jobs are posted on the Yahoo Listserv, courtesy of ATA Executive Director, Dale Davis.

Finally: Consider Disco. KC & the Sunshine Band - I'm Your Boogie Man

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our America

Thanks to El Machete, I have had my awareness raised about an issue that is undoubtedly affecting young people we work with in New York City schools--deportation.

Did you know that some of our young people are considered "undocumented", and that these children face deportation the minute they turn eighteen? Teens who have spent their entire lives in the United States are subject to arrest and criminal proceedings--the purpose being to send them "home" to countries they might not even remember.

A related article in the New York Times notes that immigrant students have recently taken high profile advocacy roles around this issue, risking much.

A group of young filmmakers responding to this issue have produced a CD of topical songs, sales of which will benefit the production of their issue-oriented movie "Papers".

Finally, A recently issued report from a New York State review panel says our system of juvenile prisons is broken, with "young people battling mental illness or addiction held alongside violent offenders in abysmal facilities where they receive little counseling, can be physically abused and rarely get even a basic education..."

Friday, December 11, 2009

What To Do

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has so many exciting programs and offerings, a person could literally hang out all day. Really, I bet they wouldn't mind. For example, the schedule for Saturday, December 12th basically invites patrons to have fun from 1pm onward.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recommended Reading


A reminder that ATA features a growing list of blogs by Teaching Artists, Arts In Education Professionals, and Grantmakers.

Recently posted and definitely worth reading:

Michael Wiggins' ATA Blog (December 7) on the Teaching Artist Resource Guide developed by Teaching Artist Phoebe Zinman Winters

Richard Kessler's Dewey21C (December 7) "Did You Miss David Brooks on Arts Education???" David Brooks' "The Other Education" was published in the New York Times on Thanksgiving Day and was featured in an ATA listserv

Janet Brown's Grantmakers In The Arts (November 17) on Building Infrastructures for Artists and Arts Organizations

Lizzie Hetzer's Unlocking The Classroom (November 22) "I walk, I fall down, I get up, Meanwhile, I keep dancing." Rabbi Hillel

Carla Ching's Minutiae and Flux (November 17)
"The Nature of Professional Development"

Please let me know if you have a Teaching Artist blog that we can include on ATA's homepage.


Dale Davis
Executive Director
The Association of Teaching Artists

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Art Is Work

Art Work A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics is a web page, a newspaper, and an exhibition.

The forty page newspaper features writing and images by artists, art workers, curators, interns, volunteers, writers, and activists who have been invited to examine how the current economic crisis impacts artists' creativity and earnings.

Produced by Temporary Services, the newspaper is freely distributed in places like Brooklyn.

You can also visit the project's website and download a copy of the newspaper here.

The exhibition at Spaces Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio is scheduled to close on January 15th, 2010.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good Company

Common Ground, the annually exciting New York State arts-in-education conference will take place on March 24-26th, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, NY.

The website of the NYS Alliance for Arts Education promises "three days of policy setting, planning, exchange of skills and inspirational speakers." Teaching artists who are interested in things like "fresh curriculum design, school reform and new models for classroom learning" should definitely plan to attend.

Aside from the NYS Alliance for Arts Education, Common Ground is co-organized by a "who's who" of allies in the field, including Partners for Arts Education, the Empire State Partnerships, the NYS Department of Education, the BOCES Arts in Education Network, Capital Region BOCES, and the Association of Teaching Artists!

Common Ground is currently seeking workshop proposals in three areas:




Deadline for Submission - December 15, 2009

Presenters will receive a free single-day conference registration, which means you can totally afford it.

To read the RFP visit the NYSAAE website.

For information, contact:

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Light On

Teaching Art in Alternative Settings in N.Y. is a teaching artist resource guide developed by professional teaching artist Phoebe Zinman Winters. I have read it, and I can honestly state that this might be the most thrilling Power Point presentation I'm going to experience for awhile.

In 18 brisk slides, Ms. Zinman Winters nimbly manages to describe just what you've gotten yourself into, and provides skillful insights on a wide range of important topics, like:

What kinds of jobs exist?

• How to find jobs?

• What to do with your jobs?

• Creating a Teaching Artist Community

Ms. Zinman Winters' presentation is posted here. It is accompanied by a useful handout, and the sense that working as a teaching artist is awesome, fun and only occasionally difficult.

A must read.

Also: The Book of Right On - Joanna Newsom and her magic harp.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Amazing Stories

Over at Glitter & Razz--anecdotes about the company's recent theater camps are a lovely way to end the week. Founder Lynn Johnson has been posting updates about her company's teaching artist work. I am reading a good post now about the team of professional teaching artists working around issues of leadership and identity with a group of girls and boys:

Love ‘Em & Lead ‘Em | Tales from Veteran’s Day Play in a Day Camp I'll Lead The Way...Follow Me!

The mood was calm and excited. One of these special Play in a Day Camps where each and every 4 year old makes it all the way through the long day and no one says “I don’t wanna do the play.”

Read the rest...
Plus: The New York Times profiles a group of kindergartners who are getting their early childhood education by spending three hours each school day in a forest. It's kind of amazing.

Also: It's Friday, which means all your cool friends and colleagues are hanging out on Yahoo and Facebook and Twitter exchanging messages and sharing all that information that you didn't even know you needed when you started out, but gosh wouldn't it have been useful?

Also, places:

Association of Teaching Artists
Teaching Artist Union
Dennis Baker

Carla Ching's Minutiae and Flux
Teaching Artist Judith Tannenbaum
Lizzie Hetzer's Unlocking The Classroom
NYC AIE Roundtable
Empire State Partnerships
Prison Arts Coalition
Urban Arts Resources

Finally, Joanna Newsom - Sprout and the Bean

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Results

The Teaching Artist Research Project (TARP) is perhaps the most significant ongoing study of its kind ever conducted, and it's all about us.

At a recent gathering hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, a few early pieces of data were presented by project director Nick Rabkin, including these:

  • 69% of the respondents were women
  • The Median age is 44
  • Mean income from teaching is about $17,850
  • Mean total personal income is about $36,200
The rest of the presentation is posted here.

In the news: President Barack Obama gives a speech announcing that he has decided that more soldiers must be deployed to Afghanistan.

Also: Shirley Bassey - Don't Cry Out Loud

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cultural Findings

The exciting mission of the Mediamatic Travel Agency is "to stimulate international collaboration."

If you visit their website, you will find a quirky set of online City Guides, along with contact information for artists in a city you may wish to visit. For a fee of 45 €, a local artist can be contracted to act as a travel agent--providing information about the "unseen or underground culture in their city."

If you would rather be one of the travel agents, or if you just have something to share, the site has multiple ways for artists to join and communicate.

Cultural workers are invited to create a profile, and post images and text.

Information is here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Charter For Compassion

In 2008, writer Karen Armstrong won the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) Prize. During her speech, she wished for something she called a "Charter for Compassion." The Charter, which was drafted by a "multi-national council of thinkers", was unveiled on November 12th of this year.

The full text is below:

The Charter For Compassion

24903 have affirmed so far. A call to bring the world together…

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Individuals may choose to affirm the Charter by signing their name.