Artist Bursary 2018
I was recently awarded a bursary from a-n to attend the 4th International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4) in New York City. A 4 day conference unlike any other, ITAC4 was full of energy, optimism, radical thinking, questions, inclusivity, belonging, powerful speeches, performances, workshops, brave spaces, talks, laughter and networking. As a young inclusive arts* practitioner this was an invaluable opportunity to learn from international pioneers in the teaching artist field, make connections, take away best practice and share ideas for how art can truly be used as a tool for positive social change.
But what is a Teaching Artist? A term I hadn’t previously come across here in the UK, I spent my time at the conference trying to decipher the term and learn more about the global semantics of how community based artists define themselves. Since touching back down on home soil, I spoke to four international attendees that I met during my time at the conference to try and sum up what they think the term means. In the words of Eric Booth (the man who coined the term and one of the first teaching artists) “The term is narrow but the work is wide, lets not let the business of a label keep us apart any longer.”
“A teaching artist is somebody who is working with art and teaching art at the same time. They are somebody who is convincing their students that life is more giving and interesting if they can appreciate and express themselves through art.” -Henriette Harboitz- (Norway) Assistant Professor in Drama- Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
“They are artists who share willingly their wealth of skills and knowledge. With a mission of instigating and art-making and facilitating creative journeys, teaching artist’s involvement will take many forms and involve a range of participants.” Lada Wilson (Scotland), Visual Artist and Lecturer in Contemporary Art and Contextualised Practice at the University of Highlands and Islands.
“I am a happy person. and this is because I met people and teachers on my way who took me by the hand and showed me an unexpected beauty. This made me grow. and I didn’t do that alone. In the same way I feel the responsibility to take other people’s hands and discover beauty together. That’s the main reason I call myself a teaching artist.” Franziska Guggenbichler (Italy), Opera Director.
“I define a teaching artist as individual who brings a vital connection between community and the classroom. They work with students in a classroom setting, and they remain an active artist in the community at large.” Ashley Shabankareh (U.S.A), Director of Programs for the Preservation Hall Foundation in New Orleans.
A bit about the author; I am a northern soul but currently based in Brighton, I am an inclusive artist* and an arts venue manager for the wonderful arts organisation- ONCA, I facilitate art workshops with a variety of community groups from adults affected by cancer to teenagers who are homeless. My own practice focuses on art and health and blurring boundaries between performance and visual arts.
*an inclusive artist is defined by art access as; ‘a flexible, creative process that ensures equal access to the arts for all marginalised groups’