Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Meaning of ATA

What does the Association of Teaching Artists mean to our field?

A few years ago my colleagues and I were in the midst of a sensitive and somewhat drawn-out negotiation of a teaching artist union contract. I needed some outside perspective, and when I came upon the Association of Teaching Artists, I called Dale Davis. We had a long conversation about issues surrounding intellectual property, similar situations that other teaching artists had faced, and ramifications of parallel contracts in higher education contexts. We didn't necessarily nail down the answers, but Dale took the time to help me ask the right questions. And if there's one thing that we as teaching artists are called to do – in our ongoing quest to find balance in art-making and educating – it's ask the right questions. 

I am grateful that I could make that call, and like other colleagues who have written this week, I am thankful that ATA provides a mechanism for sharing best practices – for encouraging emerging teaching artists – and for asking the right questions that continue to deepen the professionalism of our field. 

Please consider joining me in donating today!

You can make a check payable to ATA and mailed to:The Association of Teaching Artists155 South Main Street Fairport, New York 14450-2517

Sonya RobinsonDirector, Artist Corps New Orleans

Monday, December 13, 2010

ATA Provides A Forum

This is my first year as an ATA Board Member. When asked to join the ATA Board, I said "yes" for several reasons. I have been a teaching artist, continue to work with teaching artists and have the greatest respect for the profession and the myriad of creative skills that teaching artists share with the students they work with.

ATA provides a forum to share information and advocate for the profession. Especially in these difficult economic times, we need a place where our voices can come together. Because I want to make that voice a little stronger, I will be contributing to the ATA appeal and encourage you to do the same.

Sharon Vatsky, ATA Board Member

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Who Speaks For Teaching Artists?

Who speaks for teaching artists?

Artists don't generally have a problem expressing themselves. After all, art is about the expression of an idea.

Teaching artists generally don't have a problem communicating, since teaching is one of the most fundamental forms of communication.

However, when teaching artists gather and share tales of charming students, grateful parents and helpful administrators, eventually other stories emerge: the frustrations of legal limitations, poor pay rates, and absent medical benefits. A collective sigh is often heard, "Can't someone do something about this? Who can we talk to, who might know what to do?"

Does anyone hear these lamentations? Do these notes from a bitter song find an audience? Who listens to teaching artists?

ATA does.

But who shares these stories, both the charming ones and the frustrating ones? Who lets teaching artists know that they are not, in fact, alone?

ATA does.

How does ATA do it? Despite being a tiny organization with a miniscule budget (with our entire budget, we couldn't afford to buy even half of a 2004 Toyota Prius) ATA is dedicated to helping teaching artists communicate with one another, with potential employers, and with the world at large.

Our website, our listserve, our Facebook page, and our blog are all devoted to presenting the many points of view teaching artists possess. And in 2011, we're engaging in our most ambitious project yet: a Teaching Artists Congress, which will gather key figures from across the nation to address the state of teaching artistry, and hopefully, generate some momentum that will empower teaching artists and strengthen their positions within organizations and community groups.

ATA needs your help to maintain its current projects and to take things forward. Yes, the recession makes donating even more difficult-- but financial challenges are something teaching artists contend with, even during a stable economy. Please consider contributing to the advancement of teaching artists by supporting ATA, with whatever amount you can.

Who speaks for teaching artists?

ATA does.

In everything we do, we try to give a voice to those talented people who help others find expression in their lives.

Who helps ATA?

Now that's a question only YOU can answer


Phil Alexander
Board Chair, Association of Teaching Artists

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ATA Appeal

From the desk of Stephen Yaffe, ATA Board Member:

Every Thanksgiving I send greetings to teaching artists. Some I have worked with. Some I am working with. On the surface it seems like a simple holiday wish. But it's actually a practice for me, a way of expressing gratitude for knowing these gifted people and knowing the good work they do is reaching students across the country.

This Thanksgiving I have one more thing to be grateful for; being on the board of ATA and having the opportunity of serving greater numbers of teaching artists. Help us serve you better, address your needs, support your work, stand behind you, stand with you and, where we can, stand for you.

Send a contribution $5, $10, $20, what you can. It all adds up. We'll put it to good use.

This holiday let's be grateful for what we have, grateful for what we do and grateful to those who support our efforts.

Thank you and happy holidays,

Stephen Yaffe, ATA Board Member

Please make your check payable to The Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) and mail it to:

The Association of Teaching Artists
155 South Main Street
Fairport, New York 14450-2517