Come home, teaching artist!

There have always been times where I, as a teaching artist, have felt disconnected from colleagues and separated from policies. I accepted it as the quirks of the business of teaching artistry.

I remained hopeful and employed my imagination – true to the nature of an artist. And so, I sought out teaching artist networks and eventually cofounded TAMA, the Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic.

And then 2020’s two historic crises: public health and racial justice hit and my thinking shifted, and continues to shift.

The quirks of the business aren’t things I can privately or in small groups imagine change around. I must actively seek out and instigate change.

Earlier in the year, I asked you to put yourself on the Teaching Artists Guild’s Asset Map. (Did you do that? If not, do that now. Then continue reading!)

Then last month you may have seen the “Break Up letter” that Miko Lee of the Teaching Artists Guild and I wrote. Published in the National Guild for Community Arts Education’s GuildNotes, this letter was a collage of the stories teaching artists had shared with us about their experience during this challenging year. The Guild gave Miko and I an opportunity to present a checklist that offered suggestions to arts organizations to improve their connection with teaching artists.


A step in the right direction.

But only a step.

Hidden in the article was a sentence that moves me to sing:

TAs need these private spaces to build unity and cohesion in a growing worldwide field, reaching across all artistic mediums and its many and varied sectors.

That sentence I think is overlooked and I want to share what inspired it for me. Since the top of the pandemic, TAMA has regularly hosted Monday morning zoom meetings. The TA Cafe is a place for teaching artists to support each other and work through the challenges we faced individually and collectively.

In one of those initial weeks, I began developing a pitch or story about the importance of teaching artist networks. That summer, the talented entrepreneur Kayla Harley hosted me for a FB live session to raise awareness about TAMA’s meetings. I pulled out props so that I could visually tell the story. I told my TA colleagues who have become friends during this year that I was going to record it and share it on social media.

For a year, I procrastinated on recording this video.

The time was never right.

The video always needed revisions.

Well, guess what, perfection isn’t real. Besides this blog is supposed to be about process. I sincerely want to process all that has happened, is happening and can happen with you, colleagues.

So here it is…. Consider my invitation to “Find Your TA Home.”

I do believe there is value in networks that are by, for and about Teaching Artists.

But what about you, dearest colleague? I want to hear from you.

Do you have a teaching artist home? Why or why not? If you do, where?

Can we take a moment to shine a spotlight on all the teaching artist collectives across the nation? By doing so we increase our connectivity and continue to make ourselves visible!

Share a story about your colleagueship, and how it has given you strength, power and wisdom.

Let me hear from Teaching Artists from all of the States and the District!

Send me stories from the most curious, wondrous, delightful gatherings out there. Hearing from you will inspire and ignite us all.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right,

for you’ll be criticized anyway.

Eleanor roosevelt

Published by Jennifer Ridgway | Yard Dramas

Theatre Teaching Artist | activating artistry and moving the collective soul

4 thoughts on “Come home, teaching artist!

  1. Just reading, getting inspired. Was close to the “cliff” of defeat in the arts. DE artist residencies are starting to resume!

    1. I feel the cliff of defeat too, so often. By standing together and nurturing teaching artistry colleagueship, we can more aptly move through hard times.

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