Professional Teaching Artist Principles

for an equitable field and profession in teaching artistry

Creating Solutions to the Problems Teaching Artists Face

The Solution = Equity

Our eight principles are viewed as equitable solutions to address the problems Teaching Artists collectively experience.

The Problem = Exploitation

Members identified eight specific problems Teaching Artists experienced as exploitative.

The Professional Teaching Artist Principles

Achieving an equitable, sustainable, and vibrant arts ecosystem for Teaching Artists requires employees and independent professionals to seek fair and livable wages and compensation consistent with other fields. All stakeholders (Teaching Artists and those that hire, train, and support TAs) must adopt the following principles to advance solidarity and justice in the field.

A Podcast Episode that will inspire you to show up for Professional Teaching Artists!

TAMA Board Members Denise Jones, Jennifer Ridgway, Khaleshia Thorpe-Price, and Devin Walker presented the principles at the Maryland Art Summit 2023, hosted on the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, on Thursday, June 8, 2023. 

Special thanks to Devin Walker and WEE Nation Radio for making this conversation available on the Wee Nation Podcast. Click the button to listen now! 

Professional Teaching Artist Principles Equity vs. Exploitation

Scroll down to learn about each principle.

TAMA Members Only

Use the online forum to identify actions we can take collectively to ensure equity in the profession.

PRINCIPLE 1: Artistic Excellence

The Solution (Equitable View)

Teaching Artistry is an art form, and artists who pursue the Teaching Artist profession strive for excellence.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists are not artists of excellence seen on American stages and exhibited in American museums.

PRINCIPLE 2: Professional Respect

The Solution (Equitable View)

Teaching Artists are professionals and leaders seated at the table where decisions happen.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists are not-yet-capable and are not interested, nor have the time, to be at the decision-making table.

PRINCIPLE 3: Autonomy and Choice

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists seek quality, robust training to master their profession & hone their expertise & skills as artists, teachers, business owners, & leaders.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists require ongoing oversight, support, and training for each project and for organizations to tell them what and how to do the work.

PRINCIPLE 4: Fair Pay*

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists (who regularly seek training) must be valued at their minimum livable wage & recognized as independent businesses.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists are starving artists desperate for work and grateful for the funding crumbs organizations give them.

*TAMA calls on stakeholders to value Teaching Artists as paid professionals. Utilize the Teaching Artists Guilds’ TA Pay Calculator to compensate Teaching Artists minimally at a living wage. Pay should consider taxes, medical insurance, car insurance, liability insurance, sick leave, retirement plans, dental/vision insurance, life insurance, paid family leave, mental health days, and professional development.

PRINCIPLE 5: Self-Worth

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists recognize their self-worth and account for and are respectfully paid for all hours worked.*

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists can work free hours (planning meetings) because as independent contractors Federal law extends the opportunity for profit and loss.

PRINCIPLE 6: Control

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists control their content, ownership, and licenses.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists work for organizations that own and control the intellectual property of Teaching Artists, i.e., lesson plans, videos, etc.

PRINCIPLE 7: Prepared and Responsible

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists take the initiative, with little to no project orientation needed, and are committed and ready to work and able to improvise based on changing circumstances.

To Solve ⬇️

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching Artists are poor communicators, slow to follow up, show up late, and lack commitment requiring additional support before they can work.

The Solution (Equitable View)

Professional Teaching Artists join organizations like TAMA to actively participate in collective action to achieve and equitable, sustainable, and vibrant arts ecosystem for Teaching Artists.

During virtual meetings, we identified the problems Teaching Artists experience.

As a network, we developed our solutions (the 8 principles) to address each problem.

As a region, it is time to collectively recommend actions stakeholders (Teaching Artists and those that hire, train, and support/fund Teaching Artists) take to uphold each principle. 

Together, we advance solidarity and justice in our profession.

The Problem (Exploited View)

Teaching artists feel powerless and are forced to look to an individual or a few people for solutions and answers. We spend a lot of time complaining about the problems. We don’t get to the solutions and the actions we need.

Learn more about Uncle Devin's P.S.A.'s for organizing from Uncle Devin himself!

Problem, Solution, Action

Share TAMA's Principles for Professional Teaching Artists with your network!


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