During a regular quarter, I have about 85 teaching artists who work at the Studio School. Some have taught at the center for decades; others are building a following one small group at a time. I am trying to find ways to add value for these talented folks at a time when I can’t offer much in the way of pay raises or other perks. I have started what I am calling the Teaching Artist Institute, a series of free lectures for current instructors on topics related to portfolio creation, career development, and general skill sharing.
This week, we had short talks on Social Media Strategy for all takers each day. It was a great chance to talk with instructors I had never gotten a chance to know. They had questions I had not anticipated and excellent feedback which I am using to fine tune the offerings to come. Once a few series take hold, I want to encourage the instructors to volunteer to train each other. When resources are scares, we can band together and build community.
I geared the lectures this week to helping the artists learn more about how to promote not only their offerings and work but that of others at the Art Center. We have to look out for each other, plain and simple. I have seen how much more efficient the Center’s posts are when the artists share and contribute. I for one need to make a positive contribution to the careers of others to know I am enriching my overall mission. This attitude is not about manipulating others, but changing the pH balance of the relationships around me so that I become a reliable resource as well as an active peer. Although I did have to hustle a bit to make it all happen, I see the artists who came are posting and sharing the work of others on the roster. If I can cultivate that into a sustained attitude of community in my faculty for each other, we can begin to develop the registrations and followings for which we hope.
I need to assess the success of these lectures in a few months. I am sending out a small survey to the group of artists who came this week so I can capture some data to use. If I do this after each group of presentations, I should be able to see how the attitudes of the instructors have changed. If I conflate that with the registrations and student survey, maybe I can find ways to trace the impact overall.