Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am a professional Teaching Artist. I work in a variety of contexts. Like most veteran TAs, I've taught all over: universities, public schools, private schools, classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, basketball courts, mobile “temporary” classrooms, hallways, stairwells, lobbies, amphitheaters, black-box theaters, outdoor theaters, dance studios, art galleries, offices, prisons, women’s shelters, community centers, storefronts, churches, church basements, regular basements, parking lots, sidewalks and in the street, among other places. 
I still don't know how this thing works.
I have facilitated classes for everyone from infants to seniors. I've taught in English and Spanglish, and something that felt like charades. I dutifully went to school, and I have an MFA that cost too much money. Over the past few years, perusing Craigslist, I’ve seen TA jobs that offered anywhere from $10 per workshop, to $15 per workshop, to $20 per workshop and less. Over the last ten years, I’ve had gigs that paid me something like the following range of fees: zero dollars, $30 per workshop, $45 per workshop, $80 per workshop, $150 per workshop, $175 per workshop and hundreds of dollars per day, all to do what I consider to be, basically, the same kind of intellectual and physical labor.  
I have been a volunteer, begrudgingly, and only for people, and causes, and organizations that I really trust, care about, and admire. I rationalize this by reminding myself that people rarely ask a plumber to volunteer. We have too much respect for a plumber's training and expertise, and expect to pay for it. I would like to think I’m in a profession that as valuable and respected, but I’m pretty sure I’m not because plumbers usually get paid up front.
I think that Teaching Artists will achieve the status of plumbers only after we can manage to do two big things. 
I'll talk about those tomorrow, or like, whenever I can get to it.
In the meantime, give a donation to ATA before the end of the year, please. Give an amount that's significant and meaningful to you.

No comments: