TAs Thriving: Tip #3 Use the Teaching Artists Guild’s TA Pay Calculator to set your rates

This tip would be on a Jeopardy Championship Game for Teaching Artists!

The category is The Business of Teaching Artistry:

This platform is widely used to set pay rates, ensuring pay equity and sustainability.


What is the Teaching Artists Guild’s TA Pay Calculator?

3. Use the Teaching Artists Guild’s TA Pay Calculator to set your rates.

It’s not widely used yet. I’m confident it will be.

First, we must agree to stop creating our individual makeshift pay rate tables in excel. We must look at the hourly rates and salary fees listed on the Teaching Artists Guild’s TA Pay Calculator. Discuss them in our accountability circles and other local networks. Make collective agreements on how those rates should be applied in our local community.

We need to get better practiced as a collective and stop acting as if we are independent. Every decision you make and every contract you willingly sign has implications on the entire field for decades to come! We need some collective agreements.

Excerpt from Tip 2

I will forewarn you that you’ll get pushback when using the calculator. Organizations, funders, other TAs, and even yourself will work against you and your network. For some reason, they and we (and me) don’t think Teaching Artists deserve the fees listed.

Recently a TAMA TA Cafe attendee stated the figures were unrealistic. Admittedly, I agreed with the comment.

The fees are unreasonably high.

By traditional standards.

For decades, we have accepted wages that undervalue our contributions. We must work collectively to change this cultural norm in our field. Perhaps you can live sustainably at the rates we are currently receiving. Most cannot. A few of you are paid well. Most are not. Pay inequity has been a barrier to building TA networks and organizing. Talking about contracts is a no-no and discussing our pay is a faux-pas. Without networking, we cannot grow loyalty, trust, and commitment to each other. We cannot build credibility and morale as collaborators and paid professionals without coalitions. Without organizing, we don’t stand with each other and demand higher wages for all.

This is a paradox in our field, as much of our collective work aims to further social justice and equity. Yet, we must resolve the social inequities in our own house first – the home of the field. Without doing so, we are complicit in social evils. A sad, hard truth to face.

Imagine a doctor or lawyer. Would they ever suggest their fees were too high? I doubt it. Even the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts had expectations and costs for their session last week with the Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic. They understand their value. They recognize their worth.

My dear colleagues, what the heck is wrong with us?

Our collectives are growing places that will advance our profession. I should refer to these tips as steps. I should also note this isn’t always a linear, forward marching process. More on that later this week.

For now, start with step one. Build loyalty, trust, and commitment to each other. Collaborate on art. Discuss the business of teaching artistry and what is needed in your local community. At some point, move to step two. Meet with local organizations, councils and other entities who hire, train, and support teaching artists and ask questions. Build your credibility and morale as a team working towards professionalism that promotes social justice and equity. The collective’s gut will almost seamlessly move you into using the TA Pay Calculator. It’s like a growing garden. Sometimes you have to wait for the fruits of your labors.

You must do the prep and the work.

But don’t give up hope.

While our self-esteem may wax and wane as we move along in our professional journey, our financial health should continually grow. All should thrive in this field; we must advocate collectively for our field and profession to expect living wages.

Use the calculator.

You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.

Brené Brown

Published by Jennifer Ridgway | Yard Dramas

Theatre Teaching Artist | activating artistry and moving the collective soul

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