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Investing in Teaching Artists

by Patrick Torres, Middle School and High School Program Director

It is no secret to those of us working in arts education that Teaching Artists are an invaluable resource. They are the people working directly with students in classroom all over the Austin area to activate the academic, social and emotional development of our young people. They are professional artists with the minds of educators who believe the arts make a difference in our lives and our community and pass that passion along to their students. The deep impact we have at Theatre Action Project can largely be attributed to their work.

I came across this article the other day about teaching artists, and I found it stirring. First, I have to agree that it is shameful that teaching artistry is absent from professional theatre training in this country. I fully support idea that arts students should be required to work as a teaching artist or teacher’s assistant during their collegiate years. As suggested in the article, I never knew that becoming a Teaching Artist was even an option until I was offered the opportunity. And it was as a Teaching Artist that I finally felt how theatre could be used as a tool for social change. I wish I had known about the field during my time in school!

But, while this article stirred up my frustration at the lack of information and opportunities out there for budding Teaching Artists, it also made me feel very proud to be working for TAP. We have made investment in our Teaching Artists. We conduct intensive, multi-day trainings twice a year, implement monthly trainings to address immediate issues in the classroom, offer them “Skill Shares,” where they learn tools from one another, and celebrate them as an essential part of our company. From my experience, we are on the forefront of Teaching Artist cultivation in this country and are working to answer many of the questions the author brings up.

If you have ever thought of becoming a Teaching Artist, send me an email at patrick@theatreactionproject.org – I would love to talk to you!

P.S. My favorite cupcake is yellow with chocolate frosting because I am a traditionalist! Come join us at Central Market North at the Cupcake-A-Doodle-Do! on October 22nd from 12-3 pm for many crazy, fun and even some traditional cupcakes.

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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