"And the beat goes on………….."
Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing Blog Forum - Day 4
Who else (what other disciplines and interest areas) need to be at the table as we solidify partnerships between the arts and organizations that are concerned with the issues of aging and those concerned with the issues of how the arts contribute to healing? What other stakeholders (e.g., groups like AARP, local health jurisdictions, hospitals and the medical community, academia, pharmaceutical companies etc.) are out there that need to be part of this growing effort? How to we recruit them?
Who is missing?
The table is set for the artists and arts organizations to participate in the larger conversations around aging, health and education. What I have found though is that the arts are missing. Important community gatherings such as these are not on the radar of most arts groups and arts groups are not on the radar of this group of stakeholders. And even when invited, the stakeholders are new to the arts agencies for the most part plus there is not enough time to find and cultivate relationships or to sort them out as priorities in the ever pressing needs of everyday organizational management.
Communities of Practice
We now have working prototypes that we can use as models such as the National Endowment for the Arts Interagency Task force. A second example, NCCA, in partnership with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Aroha Philanthropies, has developed a community of practice for state arts agencies. A community of practice is a learning group lead by the peers of the group. NCCA facilitates the group by bringing resources as requested, producing educational opportunities (including webinars on topics of interest), and providing assistance for each of the 31 state participants to reach their individual goals and objectives. Thus far, the SAAs have worked on broadening their policies especially in lifelong learning, reviewing their grant making, artists training, mapping assets through their grantees, and forming new partnerships. NCCA is working to save SAA staff time by doing research and making introductions. After nearly two years, the results are starting to compound; new funding streams have been tapped within state governments and private foundations. We are encouraged to find new stakeholders moving forward with us, and new tables are being set for groundbreaking discussions.
Strategic Partnerships/Policy Development
Solidifying partnerships is the work of policy development within strategic planning. With so many options for establishing partnerships within the realms of aging, health and social services, only strategic ones will benefit our cause and individual projects. What is the best way to set criteria for partnerships and develop policy and protocols? Policy development is a weak link in this work at this time. We wondered at the recent White House Conference on Aging Summit on Creativity and Aging in America why the White House Policy statements did not include the arts and design recommendations even though two recommendations were accepted in 2005. Then we realized that it had been close to ten years since we followed up the 2005 recommendations!
Advocacy, as those of you who do it well know, is the process of applying consistent pressure to keep the cause of the arts/design, aging and health before decision makers who are the lead stakeholders. The array of partners at this year’s summit was stunning – AARP among them. How we follow up will determine whom we can bring to our table and, more importantly, who will invite us to theirs. NCCA is dedicated to improving our work in the area of advocacy and policy development in a profound way. After the 2015 Summit, with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts, we produced the first congressional briefing on creativity and aging hosted by Senator McCaskill of Missouri. Senator McCaskill gave her support for our cause to a packed room – yet, she cautioned that both the arts and aging services are difficult to fund even though their importance is recognized. With this challenge before us and the momentum from the Summit moving our cause for social Justine – freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness regardless of age forward, we invite you and all of our partners to join us. More to come as the Summit white paper is developed this summer with its inclusion in the White House Conference on Aging.
State arts agencies and local arts councils are well-positioned to actively participate as leaders and funders in this realm. We have enjoyed incredible success over the last 50 years in our efforts to involve professional teaching artists in schools and communities. Skill building within this community of artists--a priority of the Arizona Commission on the Arts--will enable them to contribute to a variety of programming for older adults in a variety of settings.
Currently 30 State Arts Agencies including Arizona are participating in the ENGAGE: State Arts Agencies and Creative Aging initiative of the National Center for Creative Aging. Current goals include the following:
- Building partnerships
- Assuring internal readiness
- Mapping Assets
- Address critical issues in developing robust creative aging programs
- Create state-specific action plans
- Engage in peer-to-peer mentoring
The Age-Friendly and Dementia-Friendly community movements are also important networks that we’ve been connecting with here in Arizona. These networks share many of the same values as the creative aging movement, and are rich with opportunity to embed the arts in healthy aging and intergenerational initiatives of city and county governments.
I was encouraged to hear a number of comments related to arts and aging at the recent regional meeting of the White House Conference on Aging in Phoenix, AZ. As I reviewed some of the community-based aging programs I saw a scattering of creative aging programs. I believe we can build awareness and the beginnings of a social movement with these organizations as partners.
Lastly, as Grantmakers in the Arts has reminded us through their pioneering work in support of greater racial equity in arts funding, we need to commit ourselves to ensuring cultural competency in this work and ensure that it is inclusive of and responsive to the unique needs of diverse populations. Therefore, I would like to see increased engagement with organizations like National Hispanic Council on Aging; National Indian Council on Aging; National Asian Pacific Center on Aging; National Caucus and Center on Black Aging; and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders.
Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman:
There are organizations representing a variety of areas (Arts, libraries, public and private funders, housing providers) which have shown support for the field of Creative Aging. However those organizations represent only a small percentage of their field. We need these folks who have already seen the value of this work to make the case to their colleagues in their respective fields. Understanding the value to older adults (sad to say), isn’t enough. We have to help those who want to encourage their colleagues by connecting with the issues and concerns of organizations in those fields and find the benefits of doing this work to their overall missions. One way to generate some excitement for getting more people on board and draw attention to it would be to have a celebrity spokesperson-a well-known, well respected person who could be the face of this movement.
The forum concludes tomorrow.
Have a great day.