Many artists contact BuildaBridge about volunteering, traveling on a service project, serving as a teaching artist or faculty member. Through the past years we have been asked questions about appropriate guidelines for the working relationship. This short article outlines our expectations in a volunteer and professional working relationship.
BuildaBridge forms alliances with community organizations, schools, and other organizations to provide arts-based programming. In other words, a local organization has outsourced the arts program to BuildaBridge, or asked for a specific program. The artist is enlisted by BuildaBridge as one of our artist teachers. So therefore the artist do not have a direct relationship with the organization–In other words it would be inaccurate to say that the artists teaches for the local organization through BuildaBridge. BuildaBridge is often required to submit attendance and time sheets in order be reimbursed for our services–and then provide the artist stipend. Each year, as we renew our contract or alliance with the local organization we review the programming needs, evaluate the performance of the teachers who work with us, and make decisions based on both funding and need.
Our selection of teachers, artists and therapists is based on several criteria:
1. A commitment to the mission of BuildaBridge
2. The application of the BuildaBridge Classroom model, art as metaphor for life lessons, relational arts mentoring, speaking blessings, parent and staff engagement, and effective classroom management.
3. Timely completion of administrative details of attendance time sheets,lesson plan submission, and assessment.
4. Participation in team meetings and training; and,
5. Meeting learning outcomes in BuildaBridge’s four main goal areas: artistic, scholastic/academic/, social, and spiritual/character development.
We recognize that some artists often operate as “contractors” or sole-proprietors in their own self-employed business. As such, they are looking for contracts and projects that they may piece together to provide a life income for themselves and their families. They enter into a collaborative (organization to organization) relationship with BuildaBridge and have no long-term commitment to BuildaBridge, other than for a short-term project. Thus there is a contractual relationship. Even in this short-term relationship, BuildaBridge trains and expects adherence to the BuildaBridge Classroom model as it is the model we have found effective, and is one that is expected by the organizations where we provide direct service. During the contract period, the artist acts as a representative of BuildaBridge.
Other artists, while still acting as sole-proprietor, are committed to the mission of the organization. They have decided to become a part of the organization in a larger and more long-term relationship. They recognize that they may teach for a time and then return later to teach again, continue to involve themselves in the broader mission internationally, support the larger mission through volunteering, fund-raising, training and other events. They become ambassadors for the mission of BuildaBridge, while maintaining their own autonomy and identity as an artist and professional.
There are some benefits to a longer term covenant relationship (as with any collaboration):
1. The artist is part of a larger movement of other artists, educators and social service providers engaged in transforming the lives of children living in poverty, at home and abroad.
2. There is a growing network of artists who can collaborate on practical issues affecting the classroom, and the lives of children.
3. As funding is available, those artists affiliated with BuildaBridge are the first to be considered in funding.
4. Training opportunities (through the Institute) for artists are provided first to collaborating teaching artists.
5. BuildaBridge recommends and networks artists for longer term positions, internships in Philadelphia and abroad.
In reality artists, like most professionals, have a number of professional organizations with whom they affiliate.
Those artists that choose to work with BuildaBridge, and who are affiliated through training, teaching or service are asked to do the following:
1. Display the affiliation through a BuildaBridge banner on their website and providing a link to the BuildaBridge website.
2. Note or give credit to materials, and models (like the BuildaBridge Classroom) in their work (much like a reference in a term paper when an idea is included) whenever using the materials or ideas in another context.
3. Seek permission to use photos of children and activities where the artist may have taught as the permission for these photos has been an arrangement between two organizations.
4. Follow the creative works policy establish between BuildaBridge and the local shelter or organization and the legal guardian, respecting the rights of the child or constituency group.
5. It is considered inappropriate for any teaching artist or volunteer to approach BuildBridge’s partners to provide services outside of BuildaBridge’s relationship with the host organization.