Becoming a Teaching Artist

Monday Mar 9th, 2020

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Erie Arts & Culture is the regional Arts in Education (AIE) partner for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) - a state agency within the Office of the Governor. As a partner, Erie Arts & Culture manages teaching artist residencies and is responsible for growing a diverse roster of qualified teaching artists across northwestern Pennsylvania. The counties we serve through this program include Erie, Crawford, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango and Warren. 
Below we explain what a teaching artist is, who is eligible to apply, and what you can expect in the process.


What is a Teaching Artist?

Teaching artists can also be referred to as artist educators or community artists. They are mid-career and established artists who supplement their incomes by teaching and integrating their art form, perspectives, and skills into a wide range of settings. Teaching artists often work with schools, after school programs, community centers, and service-based agencies. Teaching Artists are the heart of Erie Arts & Culture's Arts in Lifelong Learning program. 

What is a Teaching Artist Residency?

A residency is a specific period of time during which a teaching artist is paid to work collaboratively with the staff or volunteers of a host site to align their arts practice with either learning or organizational objectives. Teaching artists lead up to three groups, with group sizes no larger than 30 participants, through a creative project. In addition to teaching their art form during residencies, teaching artists use reflection, research, presentation, and/or production of art to enhance learning or achieve organizational objectives.

Residencies typically last 10, 15, or 20 days. Teaching artists are not intended to replace the staff or faculty of the host site. Instead, they enhance the work of classroom teachers or site coordinators through collaboration.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Individual artists, artists’ ensembles, or companies 
  • Artists, artists’ ensembles, or companies that intend to work in multiple disciplines will demonstrate their qualifications and be approved to work in each discipline
  • Preference is granted to Pennsylvania residents, although artists from other states may apply
  • You must not be a full-time student.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older.

What are the criteria? 

  • Artistic excellence as demonstrated by samples of the artist’s work, training and experience, resume, and letters of recommendation
  • Good communication skills as evidenced by the application, work samples, recommendations and subsequent interview, and teaching observation
  • Ability to develop and implement a sequential residency plan with education or community partners as evidenced by the application, interviews, and a classroom observation of an experiential arts activity
  • Ability, if applicable, to present culturally specific arts authentically as evidenced by work samples and subsequent observations
  • Experience, interest, and the ability to work with students, including special needs populations, as evidenced by credentials in education, application, letters of recommendation, and observations.

What is the process? 

  • Please download and return a completed Teaching Artist application.
  • Erie Arts & Culture will review the submitted application material.
  • Applicants who meet the qualification criteria are interviewed by an independent panel and present a plan for a 10-day residency during the 3rd or 4th week of April .
  • Applicants who demonstrate strong artistic skills and an ability to teach are selected to demonstrate their skills and abilities to peer observers in a residency setting, and lead participants in a hands-on arts activity.
  • Those who successfully demonstrate their aptitude are recommended to the PCA for final review and approval.

Who is currently on the roster? 

Our roster currently includes 36 rostered teaching artists who are eligible to participate in PCA funded AIE residencies. The artforms represented include an array of visual, performing and literary mediums. 

When is the deadline and what happens next? 

Please submit your application by March 31. (This is an annual deadline.)

If you are recommended for final approval and added to the roster, you will be required to participate in a 5-week teaching artist training in July and August.

View the Teaching Artist applications and instructions here.

If you have questions, please contact Chanel Cook, Director of Programs and Community Relationships, at 814-452-3427 x 102 or by email [email protected]

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Annie Schmitt, STEM Educator and rostered Teaching Artist

Annie Schmitt has been an active Teaching Artist with Erie Arts & Culture since 2013. She is a multimedia visual artist who uses multiple STEM techniques to infuse art into the classroom. During the 2018-2019 school year, she used the creation of a fence mural to enhance the understanding of graphs and grids in math class.

"The benefits of being a teaching artist over the past six years have been amazing," Annie said. "First, I get to creatively collaborate with amazing teachers and community organizations.  I come in with an open mind and see what we can create as a program organically - together.  It's wonderful when I get to help a school bring an idea to fruition that they may have had for a long time, but not previously had the time or resources to get started. As a teaching artist I get to take risks and work on ideas that are "out of the box."  I have been able to travel around the region and work with students and adults in so many different places. The local and regional teaching artist community is great as well - I see people who, like me, want to help students and have found the arts to be a powerful initiator of change. In many of the schools that I have the privilege of working at every year, I feel like I have been "adopted" by the students, teachers, and school community.  Most of all, it's just really cool to share the things that I love with students and share in that excitement with them to make something new."

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The fence mural
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Assembling the fence mural
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3rd Grade Glass Mosaics
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Middle School Book Page Poetry
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Virtual Pet Sloth Game and Clay Sculptures

Erie Arts & Culture

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