National Guild Conference


The 78th National Guild for Community Arts Education Annual Conference was held in Philadelphia this year and started with a full day of pre-conference activities and workshops.

Community-Word Project staff attended the session “Teaching Artist Development: A Collective Action Approach”, which introduced eight new Teaching Artist initiatives:

  1. Sharing Innovation
  2. Creating a Video Library of Teaching Artist Tips
  3. Funding the Teaching Artist Field
  4. Centering the Work-Social Justice and Teaching Artistry
  5. The Teaching Artist Philosophy Project
  6. National Teaching Artists in Creative Aging
  7. Teaching Artist Compensation
  8. Collaboratively Imagining the Future

Each initiative began at the conference and will continue on throughout the year in service to the field of Teaching Artistry. Community-Word Project Deputy Director, Megan Morrison selected to work on the Innovation Initiative while Patti Chilsen, Program Director for Training and Internships elected to work on the Video Library Initiative. 

It is an essential goal of these initiatives to enhance and expand the visibility of Teaching Artist work. Each participant broke into their “project groups” to work on devising steps and strategies, and to design plans for rolling out these new initiatives. We closed the day by reporting back to the large group, sharing ideas, discoveries and next steps. The Innovation group revealed the launch of the Teaching Artists Fail Facebook page. The page encourages Teaching Artists to ‘share stories so that we can collectively fail forward!’ Eric Booth was the first to post his story of failure to get the conversation rolling. The Video Library group showed a one-minute “how to” video featuring Patti talking about a glossary term: informal assessment. The idea is to build a “library” of one minute videos on subjects Teaching Artists deal with, from classroom management solutions to defining terms we use in the field. And with that the conference was off and running!

Thursday was the first official day of the conference and kicked off with the keynote speaker Rich Harwood, who spoke about Reclaiming Main Street by connecting with our communities more.

That afternoon, Community-Word Project presented at Five Effective Models of TA Professional Development. There were a series of ten-minute TED talk style presentations on each of the models. Each organization had ten minutes to present their approach. Eric Booth framed the event, asking participants to watch for similarities and differences between the various approaches. 

Patti was first up to present on the development of Community-Word Project’s Teaching Artist Training & Internship Program (TATIP) Focus Group Cohort, a cross-organizational collaboration on Teaching Artist professional development in NYC. She spoke about how fifteen years ago Michele Kotler formed the “Island of TATIP” by starting the program. 

Four years ago, Michele founded the TATIP Focus Group Cohort. The Cohort has expanded paths for working together by exploring ways to share best practices training for the field by collaborating on professional development. This year, the Cohort is collaborating to offer twelve elective seminars to the TATIP trainees and Teaching Artists from partnering organization around NYC. This approach is saving money for all participating organinzations and develops a stronger community of artists, teachers and administrators. Currently the Cohort includes: 

Brooklyn Arts Council
Center for Arts Education
Dreamyard Project
FreeArts NYC
MagicBox Productions
Marquis Studios
Maxine Greene Center
National Dance Insititute
New Victory Theatre
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
Wingspan Arts
Voices Unbroken
92nd Street Y

Subsequent to Patti’s presentation on the TATIP Cohort, there were presentations by The Joan Mitchell FoundationLincoln Center EducationDreamYard Project and The Mural Project of Philly. In closing, Eric Booth facilitated a reflection on the information, common threads, and takeaways from each model. Community-Word Project’s TATIP Focus Group Cohort model received many positive comments.

Special support for the Community-Word Project presentation was provided by CWP Focus Group Cohort organization, Wingspan Arts. Education Director, Brooke Rogers assisted with the projections and filmed the presentation.

“It was really exciting to be in a room with so many organizations that are leading the field with thoughtful, sustainable practices that will help to develop and nourish Teaching Artistry and Teaching Artists, and we are proud to be a partner in this endeavor.”

– Brooke Rogers, Education Director, Wingspan Arts 

On Friday, Plenary Keynote speaker, Shawn Ginwright gave a passionate presentation: A Love Note to Justice: Building Hope and Healing in Urban America. There was such a popular response to his speech, that his afternoon session on Social Justice, Building Hope and Healing in the Classroom and Community, was moved to a ballroom to accommodate the many eager participants. His generous attitude and gentle spirit were inspirational. As one participant observed “The love and healing in this room is palpable.” We were in “the city of brotherly love”, so it made perfect sense.

Community-Word Project is grateful to the National Guild for Community Arts Education for this invaluable opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the country to share ideas, launch new initiatives for the field and to challenge one another.  Here we found ways to push the boundaries around social justice and social activism in Teaching Artistry, to laugh, to cry and to break bread together. It was an informative conference, an exciting and fruitful exchange, which provided many new tools to explore with our Teaching Artist staff.