Creating a Local Tribe of Teaching Artists

Image of Dave Fry

By Dave Fry

I’ve been a Teaching Artist for many years in NJ, PA and CT and have attended and benefited from some powerful TA seminars on the state level and have always left charged with a sense of empowerment, enthusiasm and skills that shape my profession. At one of these workshops, I was challenged to take that energy and invest it in my home region and share it with my fellow TA’s in the Lehigh Valley. We now meet bi-monthly and share our activities, as well as participate in a creative activity together and dissect that process.

The process is simple. We have developed a mailing list of fellow TA’s and created a Facebook page. We meet regularly every other month on the first Monday. We meet at the local folk club but have also met at various other arts organizations and schools. We assign one of our members to conduct a workshop with our members.

First, we share what each of us as artists are doing in the field: residencies, concerts, book and CD releases, etc. We then are led by the guest artist in an hour’s workshop. We’ve had, movement, music, poetry, puppets and more, often integrating several forms into the exercise. We then regroup and reflect on what we did, what jumped out at us, and how we can adapt what we learned and apply it to our own work.

Beyond the intellectual stimulus, we come away with very strong friendships, and that is the glue that makes this group a tribe. It is delicious.

Reach out to me by email to brainstorm starting your Network.

TAMA’s Value to Dave, as a Teaching Artist

I was challenged by TAMA at regional seminar to become involved. Here I am, a board member and secretary.  I’ve become aware now of TAMA’s unique focus on the power of these artist-to-artist relationships, which is quite different from the state council-to-artist connection. That’s where the excitement begins for me: sharing person-to-person artistic connections among a wide diversity of genres. We can hone our skills together and become advocates for Teaching Artists in our own community.

TAMA has the potential to link these community artists into regional, state and Mid-Atlantic communication centers: sharing ideas, techniques, and collaborations while advocating for the Teaching Arts on many levels.

2 thoughts on “Creating a Local Tribe of Teaching Artists

  1. Test out a local network group this Sunday, January 5, 2020 | 4-5PM with Eric Booth as a guest artist with “Advocacy – It’s a TA’s Responsibility!” Learn more about your role as a Teaching Artist advocate and discover the value of connecting and collaborating with other TAs for our individual benefit and for our professional community.

    Individuals and NETWORK GROUPS are invited to participate in these webinars. Imagine a gathering of 3-10 people listening together online, and continuing the conversation in person after the session ends. If you aren’t able to meet up in person to listen, we strongly encourage you bring a friend to the online session and debrief with your friend at a latter date.

    Please join us! We grow together! RSVP at

  2. The Lehigh Valley group discussed how to incorporate and do a better job to advocate and be more inclusive in their Network group, as a followup to Eric Booth’s best practices for advocacy in our month long webinar series. Dave has a personal blog, where you can check out what Dave said about the Lehigh Valley’s Monday night meeting:

    What ideas do you have for Dave and our Lehigh TA colleagues?

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