Our Story

ArtistYear – an organization born out of the traditions of service, dedication to artistic excellence and expression, respect, obligation, and empathy – is the first national AmeriCorps program for artists to dedicate a year of service to our nation.

ArtistYear believes arts education is a fundamental right of all children, regardless of economic status, and is committed to the development of critical thinking, self-discipline, and civic engagement through the arts, as a key to an engaged and thriving society.

Our vision is to democratize access to creative learning so those we serve may reap the academic benefits, critical-thinking skills and social-emotional growth that come through creative engagement.

Our History

Believing in educational equity, the value of the arts and the importance of service, Margo Drakos and Elizabeth Warshawer created a National Service Arts Corps model that would develop, support, and place AmeriCorps Resident Teaching Artists (RTAs)– recent higher-education, arts graduates with experience across various artistic disciplines – as full-time teaching artists at Title I funded schools for a year of service. In the original program model, each RTA – formerly known as “Fellow” – was paired with a partner-teacher to deliver 1,700 hours of arts education to students who would otherwise not have arts education. Dubbed ArtistYear and launched as a pilot programmatic initiative as a shared-delivery partner with the School District of Philadelphia, ArtistYear was certified in 2016 as a 501c3. It was recognized as the first AmeriCorps national and state program dedicated to service through the arts in summer 2017.

ArtistYear works in both rural and urban settings across four states: The Borough of Queens, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Denver, CO; rural Colorado (Roaring Fork Valley); and rural North Carolina (Lee and Moore Counties). ArtistYear’s reach has expanded from having vetted, trained and placed three RTAs in its initial Philadelphia-based pilot program to recruiting, engaging and placing 65 RTAs nationally in the 2023-24 school year – 435 RTAs since its founding.

ArtistYear RTAs served 302 K-12 students in the organization’s inaugural year and are on target to teach well over 13,000 students in 2023-24, partnering with a total of 42 schools and providing upwards of 78,000 hours of service this year.

ArtistYear provides exceptional higher-education arts graduates with an opportunity to use their art to make a difference in the lives of children, schools, and communities, while offering professional development that prepares them to be competitive for jobs following their service year.

Our Evolution

Effective in the 2023 Service Year, ArtistYear’s AmeriCorps members will be referred to as Resident Teaching Artists (RTAs). ArtistYear’s AmeriCorps members possess strong artistic talents, and training to share those talents with students. To honor and represent the fact that they serve the community through their teaching artistry in various modalities. We believe “Resident Teaching Artist” more accurately represents our AmeriCorps members’ unique roles in their service sites – grounded in their artistry. 

As our program has evolved, ArtistYear’s original Partner Teacher (PT) model has stretched and adapted to varying circumstances. Naturally, there is a wide variety of Partner Teacher and member service modalities. To better capture the flexible nature of the role, we will begin referring to Partner Teachers as Site Supervisors, which aligns with AmeriCorps terminology.

ArtistYear Founders Elizabeth & Margo