"And the beat goes on………….."
Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing - Day 5
In the long run, are efforts in the area of arts and aging / arts and healing best managed by the private sector, by government or by some combination of the two? How will we best coordinate and manage all of the individual efforts that are likely to mushroom as this area begins to really take off? Do we need central clearinghouses, or regional coordinating efforts or are we best off with individual projects initiated on a local basis? Why? What, if any, kinds of national policies ought we develop to guide the coming efforts? How do we develop a standard nomenclature that allows us to speak with one voice?
Some combination of the two. Each sector can help acknowledge leaders in the field and learn from them, and help fund and promote their work.
Some things that could be set up to create successful management could be:
- Documentation of best practices;
- The creation of new certifications and new training to give more meaning and stature to certain roles specific for arts and aging. Perhaps the use of technology/distance learning to develop and certify Teaching Artists;
- More money reserved through government for organizations that have proved themselves or have quality programs;
There could be an arts programming component introduced into the licensing requirements for care facilities so that it is deemed an important factor in grading the level of quality that a care facility or aging organization offers.
Each sector has its role. Clearly the public sector has public funding and public policy to leverage. The private sector has money to make in this huge market place and the non-profit sector has programs, expertise and relationships with the artful agers to contribute.
As for top down, bottom up approaches to sparking and driving a movement, you need a combination of both. Information sharing, research, public policy, message platforms, standards, and campaigns are best coordinated at a national level but program implementation should be decentralized. The easier it is for organizations and people to enter, participate and/or contribute to the movement, the more contributors and content there will be to serve the artful agers.
I don’t believe in an either-all approach. Our own twenty-year program of research on “healthy aging through arts” has received grant after grant from multiple government, private, local, and in-house sources. In terms of speaking with one voice, I have often suggested that organizations such a NIH provide and send out “initiatives” that put aside funds to be accessed only by artist-scientist teams who use standard measure such as the NIH Toolbox (free to all on the internet). In this way, a growing body of evidence using the same terminology will appear and soon reach the tipping point to gain wide acceptance.
We need leadership, support, and coordination at every level.
On the national level, the NEA and NCCA co-sponsored a Summit on Creativity and Aging on May 18, 2015. The Summit was convened to provide input to the White House Conference on Aging, which informs the federal aging policy agenda every ten years. Participants reached consensus on specific ideas of what the federal government can do to promote lifelong learning and engagement and the arts:
- Actively work to eliminate ageism across all federal policies
- Catalyze increased public and private funding by convening funders and developing innovative funding models for lifelong learning in the arts
- Collaborate across federal, state and local government to collect data, map the ecosystem of lifelong learning and the arts, and leverage the potential of successful programs
- Promote, fund, and share equitable, diverse, successful, and replicable programs in lifelong learning in the arts that are of high quality and are grounded in the role of the professional teaching artist
- Promote and fund cost-effectiveness and outcomes research in lifelong learning programs in the arts
- Increase funding available to individual older artists and programs that support them
NCCA serves as the voice of creative aging nationally, and its second annual Leadership Exchange on May 19-20, 2015, brought together leaders from across the country to share ideas, programs, and practices. Thirty-plus state arts councils are collaborating with the NEA to share learning in the field of creative aging. These efforts must continue and be much more widely shared.
We need stronger advocacy at both the funding and policy levels. This is something we can all work on. Arts advocacy organizations need to include these programs in their platforms.
We also need to recognize that no one organization will coordinate this burgeoning field. This is a movement that is spawning activities of all kinds and in all kinds of places. We need strong, committed leadership voices of diverse backgrounds – and we need them now!
Maura O'Malley and Ed Friedman
We need the involvement of both the public and private sector to develop and sustain quality arts and aging programs and services. Don’t reinvent the wheel, build partnerships and employ existing infrastructure to establish policy, change culture and deliver meaningful programming locally. Share information and collaborate with people and institutions that value the arts and respect and enjoy people – no matter what age they are.
All organizations should be concerned about aging – K-12 systems, all public agencies, arts and social service agencies. It is a public good issue – like clean air - everybody has to breathe – and everybody ages. The quality of the experience is the nut to crack. Aging is not just a hot topic because of baby boomers. They are not the only ones involved!
What we need is culture change. Who manages that? As individuals, communities, organizations – we need to focus on how to improve life for all of us as we age and we need to accept and celebrate the universal, inevitable and positive fact that aging is keeps us alive.
This is a challenging question where there are probably many answers that would work just fine. Arts and Aging programs, as well as research and advocacy in support of them, have been going on for quite a while and in a variety of settings under the auspices of the private sector, government, community, individual and corporate efforts. I assume that this multi-prong approach will continue. At this stage, it is important for national policy organizations focused on aging to develop clear statements of support for creative aging programs. Indeed these same organizations could incorporate this work into their best practices, cultural competence guidelines and resource information.
With the generous support of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the Arizona Commission on the Arts will begin a three-year Creative Aging initiative that will train teaching artists to work effectively with older adults, foster use of best practices (including engagement and retention strategies specific to older audiences) in arts organizations that develop creative aging programs , and integrate the arts into established aging and healthcare service organizations and infrastructures.
Arts, aging, and healing work should become services as usual on the national, state and especially at the local efforts. Let’s look at the evolution of arts education. K-12, though often first on the chopping block for arts education, is still part of the educational system. In Engaging Arts, Steven Tepper writes that there is no infrastructure in place yet to support adult participation in the arts. And that to me is where we are today in terms of developing and coordinating (or dare I say managing) all the individual efforts mushrooming in this area. High-quality supply is growing to meet demand – but it’s still a long way to go in terms of scalability. Demand, as mentioned in previous posts, is growing exponentially. It is a systems challenge. And to that end, our first stop in this new phase of field development is building a highway system with many entry points and exits in order to guarantee accessibility for our many new partners.
The Role of Government
At NCCA, we consider the National Endowment for the Arts the initiator on the national level of systems’ change and they are working hard to make this jump. State arts agencies are the main path to the local agencies, and this is where NCCA is investing resources. Ultimately, governmental resources will rally private sector involvement on a systems level including higher education, foundations, nonprofits and corporations. This initiation process will catalyze the private sector to enter this market place and use the growing infrastructure (or highway) to deliver services to older adult population. Otherwise, I fear a parallel universe will evolve where arts services develop outside the standards of the quality that our national, state and local arts systems have work so hard to improve and develop. A quick story: I once visited a high-end retirement community that prided itself on their arts programming. I asked where they secured their well-paid artists. The life enrichment director’s answer was that she goes to Wegman’s, the national grocery store chain, on Friday nights to listen to the entertainers then makes her selection. This director had never heard of an arts council and really did not know where to find artists -- but she did have a budget and recognized the need to provide arts participation.
Role of the National Center for Creative Aging
The National Center for Creative Aging was formed out of a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Council on Aging in 2001. It started as a program within Elders Share the Arts, which in turn was founded by Susan Perlstein. In 2007, Gene Cohen, a founding Director of the Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health brought NCCA to join his Center at George Washington University. Now, NCCA is an independent nonprofit national arts services organization. A small catalytic organization dedicated to providing support to leaders – services providers across the sectors of the arts, aging, health, humanities and social services including education. NCCA gathers information, convenes field leaders, leverages partnerships and produces tools to help grow this burgeoning field. Our vision is that everyone should be able to flourish through creative expression across their lifespan. Throughout this blogathon response, I have identified our most recent work in co-presenting the White House Conference on Aging Summit on Creativity and Aging with the NEA; producing a congressional briefing and Leadership Exchange; developing tools for artist training and a caregiving resources guide; our deep tissue work with state arts agencies in developing communities of practice; and our template for healing arts through contracts with the Veterans Administration.
Our position is that of a collaborator. The best commendation that we could have is that NCCA is a good and solid partner helping move the field of the arts, aging and healing forward. We want to help make your work easier, better, and of the highest possible quality.
Thank you for participating in this blogathon. Great gratitude to Barry and the Aroha Philanthropies for providing this platform for this important conversation.
The intersections between the arts and creative aging and healing, healthcare, and medicine portends to grow dramatically in the next decade, and has the potential to attract significant funding from a variety of sources (government, philanthropic and corporate). If, as we anticipate, the link between the arts and aging proves to be invaluable to the health and well being of senior citizens (and the coming wave of boomer retirement), this area can benefit the arts in multitudes of ways, including public support and funding.
What's next? Where do we need to focus our energies? The Three 'R's':
- Research. We need to collaborate with government, academia and the private sector to engage in rigorous research that seeks to understand and explain the role of the arts in improving the aging process for everyone, and how the arts might help in both healing and promoting health care. We need reliable data on the impact of the arts on measurable outcomes.
- Recruitment. We need to ramp up our efforts to get other interest areas, sectors and leaders to work with us in our efforts to promote the intersection of the arts and aging / healing. We need to take a pro-active approach to being included at the tables where decisions are, and will be, made about aging.
- Resources. We need to make resources about what is, and can be done, to launch and sustain efforts to include the arts in the discussions and efforts to improve aging and health, as widely available to our organizations as we can. From the NEA to the national service provider organizations, to the State and City Arts Agencies, we need every one of them to provide resources to their members and constituents about what is going on in the area, and how to become part of what is going on. We need links to studies, tool kits and "how-to" programs, and what is and isn't being tried and working across the country. We need some kind of central, online clearinghouse for these efforts so everyone in the field can go to one place and access virtually everything that is being done is this area - and someone should fund such an effort now.
We also need to begin to make moves into the following areas:
- Training. We need programs that prepare for the integration of the field's teaching artists and the fields concerned with aging. Teaching artists will likely be one of our first lines of involvement in programs across the country, and to the extent we can have some common approaches, (and standards) we will, I think benefit.
- Policy. We need to develop a consensus national policy for the involvement, intersections and role of the arts in aging. And we will benefit from having that policy subscribed to and endorsed by those with whom we seek to collaborate - including government and the private sector. We ought to lead that effort and not leave it to others. This is the first step in unified advocacy efforts.
- Funding. We need to organize the funding for our efforts over the next five year period so that we can approach the effort holistically. Such organization will help to net us more partners and more funding sources. Funders need to work in collaboration with each other to have a comprehensive approach.
- Testimony. We need to tout the successes of the link between the arts and creative aging and healing / healthcare as widely as we can, including a program to involve the media so that we can solidify public support.
Thank you to all the Forum participants for sharing their knowledge and experience.
Have a great weekend.