White woman smiles holding a large hand foam puppet. Long brown hair drapes her shoulder. Other puppets sit in the background.

Virginia TA Heidi Rugg’s puppet leads this one

Because the Virginia State Director position is vacant, we invited Heidi Rugg to help out. She has been present with us regularly attending the TA Cafe since our first session in April 2020. She was the PERFECT candidate to initiate the Virginia thread of the TA Interview Series!

We asked Heidi:

  • Why TAMA?
  • What is the earliest or most prominent childhood memory of using your imagination?
  • What’s next for you that we should be keeping an eye out for?
  • What message do you send your former self (choose a time – 1, 5, 10 or 20+ years ago)? 

Celebrate Heidi Rugg, a Virginia Puppeteer TA

Learn more about Heidi here as part of TAMA’s TA Directory and visit her website. Follow Heidi on FB. And check out the forum for this blog here. Use the forums to connect with Heidi and others between meetings!

We started this post by noting we got to know Heidi through the TA Cafe. If you want to have a good chat with her, she currently drops into the Third Friday sessions. Check out the Events Calendar to learn more and drop by!

From Virginia to New York: We Network

Being in a vacuum is never a good choice. Let’s build our connectivity and networks across each of these states. We’d love to see you at a TA Cafe! Denise Jones refers to the TA Cafe as the “water cooler” conversation. The conversation you never knew you needed will happen. Promise. TAs are choosing to have conversations with colleagues. Did you know a first-ever national conference for TAs is happening the first week of April? Again, check out the Events Calendar.

This afternoon’s Cafe discussion continued last month’s Friday conversation. We unpacked the TA Pay Calculator and brainstormed the hows and whys we must advocate for the listed fees. Folks returned today with questions and thoughts. Attendees challenged each other and examined:

  • How do we distinguish between Independent Contractor v. Employee?
  • What are the ethics of teaching XYZ when or without ABC?
  • How might arts organizations, funders, schools, and local/state arts agencies bring TAs to the table so we might advocate for our interests?

But why and how to network?

Pay equity is a social justice issue that requires everyone’s attention. A whole region conversation! Every decision you make independently impacts your local, state, regional, and national colleagues!

So, how and where do you begin to enter the conversation that you may feel unprepared for, uninterested in having, or no time to have?

First, acknowledge you don’t have to prepare anything. YOU ARE ENOUGH! Next, recognize that showing up and getting you connected is vital because:

You work in this TA movement. 

You have stories to tell about the power and field of teaching artistry.

Your story is a piece of our collective puzzle.  

So, you want to prepare?

First, read “Strategy Sampler: Teaching Artists Relationships with State Art Agencies” authored by Precious Blake in Fall 2021. Blake acknowledges the critical role that State Arts Agencies play in teaching artists’ development, engagement, employment, and empowerment. She explores four ways agencies across the nation work with Teaching Artists: equity/social justice, pay equity/transparency, community building, and credentials/skill-building. This critical conversation needs our voice and our perspective. Check out episode 50 of Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie! Boddie interviews Blake. They begin discussing this document around 38 minutes into the session. Follow the podcast, so you don’t miss Act II of the interview!

Next, follow Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic on Facebook and Instagram, where we drop a #ThursdayTip! We hope to spark conversations within the TAMA community and out to our TA partners. Every tip comes from NOLO.com, a blog authored by legal professionals.

Finally, join us for a regional and national event on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:30 PM! TAMA’s DC Director @uncledevinshow will host Adam Holofcener from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts for a conversation titled Independent Contractor v. Employee. Please send us your questions, thoughts, concerns, and even contracts you want us to share with him! This session will be transformative so we can truly thrive.

When you take a seat at the decision-making table, it’s essential to have the best information to support and advocate for our collective interests. Together, we can seize opportunities to advocate for contract revisions that include higher compensation, benefits, and so much more.

If you are a TA in the mid-Atlantic region, join our TA Directory. Complete your registration in 5 minutes or less. Then take 14 days to make your profile look snazzy!

TAMA needs a Virginia Director and More

Are you a Teaching Artist living in DE, DC, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA, or WV? Do you focus both on growth in your own work and the success of the field of Teaching Artistry? You sound like a TAMA Leader! Explore our openings, and learn more about the Local, State & Regional Board open positions. Email us to inquire and apply for any current open position!

#FollowFriday #TeachingArtist #TANetwork

Know of an event we should include?

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One of the challenges of our profession is that there is very little data about who we are, what we do and where we are working. Without a documentable presence, it’s difficult to advocate for funding and policies that benefit our work. Your profile will both help promote your work individually and it will help us aggregate data for our region. As you fill in the blanks below, you will have a choice as to who is allowed to see some of the information. Please note that the “Just Me” option does allow TAMA administration to see what you’ve entered. For example, when you enter your phone number, you can prevent that from appearing in your profile if you like, but TAMA administration can see it.