One of the many ways you can build partnerships and cultivate a culture of artistic learning is through an artist in residence. These are practicing artisans who come into the school for a period of time to work on a specific project or unit. It is a unique collaborative opportunity! Here is a resource list that you can reference when seeking out these individuals or groups.
WHY AN ARTIST IN RESIDENCE?
Teachings artists bring practical knowledge, experience and artistic skills directly into the classroom. These opportunities can be a wonderful way to jumpstart your arts integration and STEAM efforts, as well as expand what you’re already doing in your curriculum. Residencies can vary widely – some are for a single day and others can last for a week or more. It truly depends on the goal for the residency and the artist that you’re bringing in.
FINDING AN ARTIST
There are so many directories available to find a teaching artist for your school or district. Here’s a list of places to get you started:
1. Local and State Arts Councils. Check your state, county or city websites for the link to your arts council. Many of these organizations have a list of working teaching artists that have been vetted and good track records.
2. Young Audiences. This organization has been around for 65 years, is a trusted source, and a huge part of their mission is to connect schools with teaching artists.
3. Res Artis. If you are looking for an international option for your artist in residence (this is great for schools worldwide or for colleges and universities), this worldwide repository is a great place to start.
4. Alliance of Artist Communities. This organization provides resources for teaching artists looking to connect with schools, training workshops and a free directory of artists worldwide.
TIPS TO CONSIDER
Bringing an artist in residence into your school or classroom can be a truly meaningful experience. It’s also all about what you make of it. Here are some things to think about BEFORE you commit to a teaching artist:
๏ Be sure to interview from a selection of artists before committing to a residency. We have included a list of questions below.
๏ Be sure to investigate alternatives. Many artists-in-residences are listed in state and local arts council directories and on the websites provided above. However, there are also many more who are excellent artists-in- residences and are not affiliated with these lists due to the fees the organizations charge the artist. A quick internet search with your area and artist-in-residence will help.
๏ Some artists are fantastic at their craft, but not so good at helping teachers learn how to continue to use this after they leave. It’s important that you check their previous experience and ask them what training they have had in pedagogy.
๏ An artist-in-residence requires careful planning and support. Never just bring in an artist and then let them “do their thing” while you sit in the back and catch up on work. Check in frequently, get their feedback and make them feel like a part of the school team for the duration that they are with you.
Once you find a teaching artist, you need to interview them to be sure this is a good fit. These are questions that are important to consider since you’ll be spending money to bring them into your classroom.
Each artist in residence is different – some include an opening assembly while others only work in individual classrooms. We’ve created a helpful handout that members of our Accelerator Program can print and use for free during their next Artist in Residence project.
One last bit of insider knowledge about teaching artist residencies: be sure to look for grant opportunities! Many times, you can get matching funds from local arts councils and state and business-funded grants. You can also often save if you host the teaching artist for a combined set of grade levels or programs that they offer. Be up front with your budget and ask if those kinds of options exist.
As you continue through the school year, be sure to consider hosting an artist in residence. It can truly deepen any connective curriculum experience!
Are you a teaching artist or have you hosted a teaching artist? What other tips would you offer? Let us know in the comments below.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.