Creating an Arts Education Directory

Premise: Mission statements for most local arts commissions include a goal to offer arts education experiences to all ages by providing partnership opportunities, resources, and technical assistance for artists and the public. Schools and organizations wanting to provide arts education activities at their sites need to know about artists or arts organizations with educational programming to offer.


How to Create and Maintain an Arts Education Registry for the Educational Community

One of the advantages of being an arts agency is being familiar with the incredible wealth of local talent, but it can also be a source of frustration when the agency lacks an effective way of connecting such artists with the community. For many years the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC) produced a printed resource directory that was quickly out of date and difficult to distribute. SMAC decided not to reissue the directory until it could be done electronically. Now the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission has implemented a new teaching artist approval process and method of promoting the arts education programs available in the Sacramento region. SMAC revamped its entire approval process and sent notices to hundreds of artists in the Northern California area, inviting them to apply to be part of the Arts Education Resource Directory.

SMAC held workshops to address questions about the process and helped the artists determine the appropriate Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for their particular programs. They emphasized that the application process was not a competition with only a limited number to be approved, but rather an opportunity to create as large a stable of talented educators and programs as possible. Once approved, a teaching artist is listed in the Directory for three years before needing to reapply.

Artists could choose to be evaluated in one or both of these classifications: “SMAC Community” for programs for all ages, and “SMAC K-12” for artists who teach in schools during the school day. The general evaluation criteria included:

  1. Artistic Skill

  1. Technique

  1. Creativity

  1. Consistent quality of work

  1. Artistic achievement, training and/or experience

  1. Instructional Skill

  1. Ability to communicate artistically and verbally and to stimulate creativity in others

  1. Previous experience working with students of any age

  1. Capacity to develop site-specific curricula based on the strengths and needs of the population to be served

  1. Clear program objectives and outcomes

  1. Appropriate strategies for evaluation and assessment of program objectives

  1. Overall excellence and innovation of educational activities

  1. Professionalism

  1. Ability to plan and cooperate with administrators, staff and/or teachers

  1. Demonstrated history of ability to carry out a program

  1. Classroom management skills

The application process consisted of a written application and a six-minute “live” sample arts lesson taught to the review panel. The arts lesson had to be self-contained with a clear beginning, middle and end, with a limited focus so that the learning objectives could be accomplished in six minutes.

While researching companies to develop an online directory, SMAC discovered ERC Systems which offers online searchable directories of performing and visual artists to arts agencies. SMAC worked with ERC Systems to develop pages to specifically present the artists’ information and education programs so that teachers, principals, and community organizations could visit the website and easily find teaching artists evaluated by SMAC offering programs in four different formats: performance, workshop, field trip, and residency.

Once approved for participation in the Directory, performing, literary and visual artists enroll themselves on the ERC Registry, receiving free web pages complete with description, photo slide show, sound bytes, streaming video and lists of work samples and places they have performed. The SMAC staff provides the proper approval designation and specific program information is entered on the teaching artist’s pages.

The SMAC directory is still in the early stages of enrolling approved teaching artists, but may be viewed by visiting and clicking on “Arts Education Resource Directory.”  ERC Systems, the company offering this directory capability, continues to develop cost-effective ways for arts organizations to accomplish the goals in their mission statements through the use of online technology. For instance, ERC Systems has been selected to work with a team of students from the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) to develop software for the online application process as their senior project. This software developed will be available free to arts organizations.

“I wanted to move our Arts Education Resource

Directory from a quickly outdated paper version to an easy-to-use,

online searchable database. ERC Systems has been wonderfully

responsive and reliable as we work toward that goal.”

Erika Kraft

Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission


For additional information about adding an Arts Registry to your web site, contact:

ERC Systems

(916) 922-6040