Teaching Artist Roster Guidelines



The mission of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Arts Education program is to enrich and support quality arts education. This mission is supported by the belief that professional teaching artists can enhance the educational process and provide inroads to learning that are engaging, creative, and meaningful. The intent of the program is to enrich and support quality arts education, not to supplant or in any way furnish a substitute for services more appropriately provided by licensed arts educators.

The Tennessee Arts Commission acknowledges the importance of teaching artists participating in ongoing professional development. In an effort to support the work of teaching artists and adequately prepare them for teaching in and through the arts, we provide annual arts education training and professional development opportunities with grants and programs.

What is a teaching artist?

A teaching artist is an “artist-educator” able to translate his/her creative process into an instructional setting. Nationally recognized teaching artist and author Eric Booth developed the following definition: “A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.” Teaching artists represent all disciplines including craft, dance, folk arts, literary arts, media arts, music, storytelling, theatre, and visual arts.

Professional teaching artists are:

  • Accomplished artists in their field
  • Able to teach their art form(s) which includes skills such as organization, classroom management, public speaking, and knowledge of how various educational systems operate (schools, social service agencies, juvenile detention centers, community centers, etc.)
  • Business-minded, possessing the ability to self-market, work within a budget, and deliver projects on time and in the manner proposed
  • Great communicators and able to facilitate conversations with teachers, community leaders, and other individuals through the process of creating and designing educational projects


The roster is an online searchable database of professional teaching artists approved to work on grant-funded Tennessee Arts Commission projects and programs. The roster is a central location where schools, arts organizations, and other agencies can go to locate professional teaching artists. Artists must apply to the roster and once approved by a panel of adjudicators, they are included on the roster as part of the Commission’s website.

Program Types

Teaching artists are an invaluable resource for schools and communities and greatly contribute to the overall process of learning. There are three (3) types of programs that can be offered by teaching artists: Arts Curriculum, Arts Integration, and Arts Appreciation.

  • Arts Curriculum deepens student understanding and participation in a specific art form through lesson(s) based on national standards and/or state curriculum standards in the arts. Instruction is experiential and hands-on, with an emphasis on artistic skills, techniques, and vocabulary. Assessment of student learning is based on process over product. Lesson plan sample is required. Grants requiring roster artist for this program include: Student Ticket Subsidy, Arts Education Artist-in-Residence, and Arts Education Mini-Grants.
  • Arts Integration provides interdisciplinary residencies that authentically connect arts and non-arts curriculum standards. National standards and/or Tennessee State Curriculum Standards are used. Instruction is experiential and hands-on, with an emphasis on exploring a non-arts concept through the teaching of artistic skills, techniques, vocabulary, and/or social and historical context. Assessment of the student learning process for both arts and non-arts subjects occurs. Lesson plan sample is required. Grants requiring roster artist for this program include: Student Ticket Subsidy, Arts Education Artist-in-Residence, and Arts Education Mini-Grants.
  • Arts Appreciation exposes students to a broad variety of cultural experiences, arts disciplines and artists and increases their appreciation for the art form. While students are primarily observers watching, listening, and/or reacting to professional artists performing, creating, and/or discussing their art forms, a hands-on component might be included. Content outline or teacher preparatory materials to supplement the performance or exhibition are required. Grant requiring roster artist for this program includes: Student Ticket Subsidy.

Various ways in which teaching artists intersect with schools and community-based organizations may include:

  • short and long-term in-school and after-school residencies
  • arts experiences including performances by professional artists that tour to schools and/or field trips to galleries, museums, and performances
  • arts integration instruction that supports higher order thinking skills in which students learn math, science, language arts and/or social studies through visual arts, music, dance, literary arts, media arts, and/or theatre
  • curriculum-based projects aligned with K-12 arts and non-arts education standards
  • core arts instruction in dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theatre, and/or visual arts
  • professional development for educators
  • lifelong learning in the arts through community events, classes and workshops

Tennessee Arts Education Standards

Information about arts education standards can be found at the TN Department of Education website and the National Core Arts Standards website.

Arts Education Grant Programs

While there are several grant programs that fund projects involving teaching artists, two (2) require schools or organizations to partner with artists listed on the Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster.

  • Student Ticket Subsidy provides funds for artist fees, ticket costs, and transportation fees in order for students from Tennessee public schools to experience a broad variety of cultural opportunities, arts disciplines, and artists. Roster artist required.

Returning Roster Artists — Time to update your Teaching Artists profile on the TN Arts Commission Website. Please make these updates to your programming by July 31, 2021 for the upcoming 2021-2022 STS school year. Now is also the time to tell us about your professional development that you have attended or plan to attend during the 2021-2022 season. Returning Roster Artists

Additionally, roster artists may participate in three (3) other Arts Education Grant Programs:

  • Arts Education Community Learning is designed for projects that demonstrate creative and innovative arts education programming in non-traditional K-12 school settings or for adult learners
  • Funds for At-Risk Youth is designed to support after school or summer camp arts programs specifically for children and youth considered at risk
  • Arts Education Teacher Training is for arts organizations who provide professional development for educators and teaching artists that promote curriculum-based arts education and/or arts integration

Applicants are not required to utilize roster artists for these four grant programs above. For questions about Arts Education grants and programs please contact Alicia Fuss, Director of Arts Education.


As a part of the annual review process, we require that teaching artists participate in at least one professional development activity annually to maintain status on the roster. This may include any of the following:

  • Tennessee Arts Commission arts education training or conferences
  • Arts education training or conferences offered by other providers. Verify eligibility with Tennessee Arts Commission staff
  • Classes or workshops to enhance your practice as a teaching artist. Verify eligibility with Tennessee Arts Commission staff


Currently, the Commission gives priority to applications from in-state artists or artists who reside no more than 50 miles over the state line. Only professional artists are encouraged to apply. Unfortunately, the Commission cannot accept applications from emerging artists or college students.

Teaching artists are eligible to be on the Teaching Artist Roster for one year. To maintain status, artists must update their profile every year to prove active participation. Applicants will be notified of this requirement at the appropriate time. See Important Dates/Deadlines on page 8. Active participation includes annual profile updates, proof of contracted residencies, professional development, presentations, etc. The re-submission of the profile will serve as a means of roster renewal; therefore, teaching artists will not be asked to submit new applications every year.

Inclusion on the roster is not a guarantee of employment. Neither the Commission nor its staff act as agents on behalf of artists. Teaching artists accepted to the roster are expected to market their services directly to schools and other organizations with whom they wish to collaborate. Marketing materials should include a link to the artist’s roster page and potential grant opportunities.      


The Tennessee Arts Commission hosts the Teaching Artist Roster on the TN Arts Education website. To begin the application process, go to the Teaching Artist Roster Application form.

In order to be considered for the Teaching Artist Roster, new artists must first:

  • Verify eligibility to apply to the Teaching Artist Roster
  • Successfully submit information for a roster profile

To verify eligibility or for help in creating a roster profile, email Michelle Sipes, Arts Learning Specialist at michelle.sipes@tn.gov.

Steps to complete Teaching Artist Roster Application form:

Complete the Teaching Artist Roster Application form with the following information:

  • Profile Name (Name of Artist/Arts Group/Arts Organization)
  • Profile Photo (.jpg or .png file, maximum size 2 MB)
  • Contact Information: Name, address, phone number, email
  • Bio: 100 words or less written in third person
  • Artistic Discipline: Craft, Dance, Folk Arts, Media, Literary Arts, Music, Theatre, Storytelling, Visual Arts
  • Artistic Work Sample: Performing artists, upload at least one (1) audio or video sample (max file size 10 MB). Visual artists, upload at least three (3) photos of your work. Literary artists should upload at least one (1) sample of written work.
  • Travel Regions: Indicate the regions you are available to work as a teaching artist: East TN, Middle TN, West TN
  • Resume: 2 pages maximum. Please upload your Resume as a PDF or Microsoft Word document in the “.doc” file format. Arts organizations and groups should not submit a resume.
  • Website, Social Media links (If applicable)
  • Populations/Area of Interest: Pre-K, K-5, 6-8, 9-12, College, Lifelong, People with Disabilities, Underserved, Bilingual/Multilingual, Professional Development
  • Sample Programs: Submit three samples that will give visitors to the roster an understanding of what you offer. Type 80-100 words that describe the program.
  • Program Type: Arts Curriculum, Arts Integration, Arts Appreciation. Program type can vary per each Sample Program, but you must select the Program Type that best fits the Sample Program. See Program Type definitions on page 2.

If you are delivering exposure-based arts events only please include the following:

  • Dates offered
  • Time
  • Fee or Ticket Cost: Be specific. Example: $2 per student or $500 per school performance.
  • Lesson Plan/Content Outline Sample: Submit a lesson plan or content outline that aligns with each of the sample programs. When developing, please consider the following:

1. How the program increases students’ appreciation for and knowledge of the arts?
2. What are the educational goals of the program?
3. What can I expect students to learn and retain after one session of instruction?

For Arts Curriculum and Arts Integration – Upload a sample lesson plan that includes lesson objectives, curriculum standards, procedures for delivering instruction, materials, length of lesson, assessment, etc. (2 pages maximum, .doc, .docx or .pdf files, maximum size 2MB)

For Arts Appreciation – Upload a content outline that provides an overview of the lesson or teacher preparatory materials to supplement the performance or exhibition. Please upload the content outline or teacher preparatory materials as a PDF or Microsoft Word document in the “.doc” file format.

Narrative Responses: Respond to the following questions.

  1. Describe your work as an individual artist. Describe the media/formats in which you most commonly work, and your level of mastery, experience, and/or professional success in these areas. What aspects of your art form are you most drawn to and most passionate about?
  2. Describe your work as a teaching artist. Explain your evolution as a teaching artist, and your personal philosophy regarding your approach and your purpose as a teaching artist. What age groups and what teaching environments are you most drawn to and why?
  3. Describe your work with students in K-12 schools, and why you pursue this work.
  4. Elaborate on the following aspects of one of the content outlines or lesson plans you have submitted with this application. What strategies do you use to engage students in learning during the lesson in the content outline or lesson plan? When have you found it difficult to engage students, and what did you do?
  5. For Arts Curriculum and Arts Integration Only: How do you assess student work and how do you enable students to reflect on their own work or the work of their peers? How do you use the assessment results?
  6. For Arts Appreciation submitting a lesson plan, Arts Curriculum, and Arts Integration: Why did you select the national standards and/or Tennessee State Curriculum Standards that are in your lesson, and how do you apply the standards to your teaching? Give one specific example of how an element of your lesson plan addresses a specific Tennessee State Curriculum Standard.
  7. For Arts Integration Only: How do you integrate an arts discipline with a non-arts subject area? Briefly describe the key concepts/skills in this lesson, and how you effectively address both subject areas.
  8. When you are offered a contract for a school residency, what are the questions you ask to determine your approach, and what are the key steps of the process you use to cooperatively plan the residency with the classroom teacher?
  9. How do you continue to hone your skills as both an artist and a teaching artist? Describe the professional development experiences that have been the most valuable to you and why. What kind of training would improve your abilities as a teaching artist?

Letters of Recommendations: Upload three (3) Letters of Recommendation. All letters should include contact information. One Letter of Recommendation must be completed by a teacher from a K-12 public school. You only need three Letters of Recommendation for your entire profile.

Submit: To finish your application, please click the Submit button. If you would like to continue later, please click Save and Continue Later.

Save and Continue Later: If you choose this option you will receive a link to access your application. Before you choose this option, verify that your email is correct. Please note that the link is the only way to access your application and must be completed within 30 days from the start of the application. Failure to complete the application within 30 days or misplacing the link or allowing it to expire will result in the loss of application information.

Notification of Approval/Denial

Once your application is reviewed, you will be notified by email of the approval/denial status of your roster profile.


For new applicants, panelists will evaluate roster applications based on the following criteria:

Artistic Quality (10 points)

  • Exemplifies mastery in artistic discipline(s) as shown in submission of work samples and through explanation of artistic process and experience
  • Evidence that he/she is a practicing professional artist and actively participating in professional development training

Arts Education Quality and Experience (10 points)

  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience working within Pre K-12 school setting
  • Ability to create a complete and comprehensive lesson plan, teacher guide and/or content outline
  • When appropriate, sample programs properly align with state arts education standards and assess student learning in the arts
  • Sample programs prove to enable participants to acquire knowledge and skills in the arts
  • Evidence of participation in professional development as a teaching artist
  • References are positive and show support of the teaching artist’s ability to work within a K-12 setting. Includes one from a public school teacher

Completeness of Application (5 points)

  • Narrative responses are clear and concise
  • No typos or spelling errors
  • Overall application is of professional quality, complete and integrated into a cohesive whole. The application content is ready for public view


There will be two panel reviews during fiscal year 2022. Note the following dates below.

August 1, 2020– June 1, 2021
Applications from prospective teaching artists may be created online at any time during this timeframe.

May 31, 2021
Deadline to submit roster applications for review by a panel of adjudicators during June 2021. Applicant will receive notification by July 1, 2021.

July 31, 2021  Returning Roster Artists

Time to update your Teaching Artists profile on the TN Arts Commission Website. Please make these updates to your programming by July 31, 2021 for the upcoming 2021-2022 STS school year. Now is also the time to tell us about your professional development that you have attended or plan to attend during the 2021-2022 season. Returning Roster Artists

September 30, 2021
Deadline to submit roster applications for review by a panel of adjudicators during October 2021. Applicant will receive status notification by November 1, 2021.


For questions about the Teaching Artist Roster and to verify eligibility, please contact Michelle Sipes, Arts Learning Specialist