Art Talk: Leiland Theriot, Executive Director of Florida Alliance for Arts Education

Leiland Theriot is Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). The Division of Cultural Affairs recently talked with Leiland about FAAE’s newest partnership with Interactive Academy to provide teaching artists and students access to virtual arts education and remote classes.

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Can you tell us a little bit about FAAE?

Leiland: The Florida Alliance for Arts Education was founded by Dr. June Hinkley (FDOE) and Dr. Mary Palmer (UCF Dean) in collaboration with arts educators and agencies from around the state, including the Department of Education and Division of Cultural Affairs, to establish the Arts for a Complete Education (ACE) coalitions.  Our mission is to improve, enhance, and promote arts education in the state of Florida.  We are currently funded by the FDOE ACE Grant and by two grants from DCA: one for General Support and the other from the National Endowment for the Arts Special Initiative.

DCA: FAAE’s new partnership with the Interactive Academy to provide arts education classes through a virtual platform is particularly timely. How will it work?

Leiland: The FAAE and the Interactive Academy will partner with teaching artists anywhere in the state to remotely continue to provide arts instruction to their students. The delivery can be to one student, or 20, or 1000. IA has several delivery platforms available. The FAAE is the paymaster, registration, and additional marketing. There are no costs initially, and the three will split the net revenue evenly. The best thing is that the platforms are secure and private!

DCA: What was the genesis of the project?

Leiland: Ricardo Canchola (IA) approached me in January at Arts in the Capital Day. We began our discussion, thinking we might have everything worked out by maybe the summer or fall. And then the Coronavirus Pandemic happened, and we were watching our friends losing their “gig” pay. We had respond quickly to try and get them working again.

DCA: Teaching artists are a valuable resource. Are you looking for particular disciplines?

Leiland: No, we are not. You can do any arts discipline. There is a warning for musicians, however – live ensemble playing does not work on any digital platform, due to latency issues.  We do have other options, however, that will work for delivering music instruction.

DCA: What qualifications does a teaching artist need to take part in the program?

Leiland: Our teaching artist should have a high level of content knowledge, and have had experience in delivering online lessons. This is fairly simple to learn the digital platform, and Ricardo has developed video tutorials and is willing to chat with anyone having difficulties. You will need a laptop with video and audio (camera and mic), and your ping speed should be around 20-30 mbps at minimum, around 50 mbps on uploads if you plan to livestream. Visit Speed Test to check your speed.

DCA: How does a teaching artist sign up?

Leiland: Click HERE for the proposal form. You can also get there by going to https://www.faae.org. The first banner on the landing page has a button that takes you to the page for the Interactive Academy, and there you will find a button to Submit a Proposal.

DCA: How do you plan to attract students to the platform?

Leiland: The FAAE has email distribution lists for memberships (over 3500), local arts agencies, and public schools arts supervisors (who will send to teachers to send to students). Also, most teaching artists already have access to the emails for past participants.

DCA: What is the ultimate goal of the initiative?

Leiland: Our initial goal is to get teaching artists working again. However, once we have a solid revenue stream it is our intention to use it to support our mission – to improve, enhance, and promote arts education. There are four school districts with less than 20% arts education. Those districts do not have elementary music or visual art classes for their students. I would like to see what we could do to change that.

DCA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Leiland: I left teaching three years ago to be the Executive Director of the FAAE. I have never regretted that. I love being able to work with such consummate professional artists, teaching artist, and arts educators. It has been a blessing to work with the people at the Division of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Education to support arts instruction throughout the state. Thank you!

The Division thanks Leiland Theriot and Florida Alliance for Arts Education for their participation in this interview. To learn more about FAAE, visit their website: https://www.faae.org/

Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Click HERE fro the proposal form (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Rivers H. Buford, III

The Florida Council on Arts and Culture is the 15-member advisory council appointed to advise the Secretary of State regarding cultural grant funding and on matters pertaining to culture in Florida.

Appointments to the Council are determined by the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, in consultation with the Secretary of State. The Governor manages seven seats that serve four-year terms. The President and Speaker manage four seats each, with terms of two years. The appointments are based on geographic representation, as well as demonstrated history of community service in the arts and culture.

In this bi-monthly series, we will introduce you to each member of the council and share their thoughts on the role of arts and culture in the state of Florida. This month, we chatted with Rivers Buford. Rivers was appointed to the council in 2019 by Governor DeSantis. 

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tells us a little bit about yourself.

Rivers: As a Government Relations practitioner, I have represented a variety of groups before the state and national government for the past 30 years. I help those who don’t understand public policy or have time to engage in the legislative process. I served under eight different Secretaries’ of State and as a policy advisor to a Senate President.

When I’m not working, I enjoy walking around the woods of my family’s mountain cabin in Clayton, Georgia. I am entering my 35th year of marriage. My wife and I have one daughter, Kathryn Elizabeth. In addition, I have one loyal four-legged family member, Scout, named after Jean Louise in To Kill a Mockingbird.

DCA: Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Rivers: When I first joined the DOS staff as a team member, the Honorable Katherine Harris was Secretary of State. She sat down with me and explained the value of the arts in cultural relationships, interpersonal relationships and professional business relationships. People want friends with common interests. Art and it’s many disciplines is the universal language that everyone can appreciate, no matter what language they speak or where they live. That is why she felt (and rightfully so) a cultural mission should precede an economic trade mission, to serve as the ice breaker in finding common ground with our future trading partners. The Arts are an economic engine for our state. More people attend events of the arts than sporting events. 

DCA: For you, what is the most inspiring part about working in the arts?

Rivers: I appreciate art in its many disciplines. though I can’t play a single instrument or sing anywhere other than my shower, or paint anything other than a solid wall, I admire those who do, and how they think. It is a gift that I hope to be able to help share with others, so they can learn to appreciate them also.

DCA: What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture?  

Rivers: I’m an avid (some say rabid) collector of the The Highwaymen Art movement. I hope to be able to light the fire in the minds of other to appreciate our many different disciplines through visits to galleries and museums of all types around our great state. And then hopefully, they will buy something. I once heard, living artist need you to buy now, so they can continue to produce. Dead artists, though their works are great, no matter what the discipline, don’t need the money and are not contributing to our economy.