Sunday, June 28, 2015

Art at the Center of History - Symbols and Sounds

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on………………."

Friday was an emotional day for America.

First the historical Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage across the land.  And second, President Obama's moving eulogy for Clementa Pinckney and the other eight murdered South Carolinians.

Watching these events unfold, I was struck by the reality that, in both cases, art was at the center.

There are many factors - in the long struggle for marriage equality - that led to a victory this week - dating back, to at least, Stonewall.  On stages and movie and television screens, in song and dance and the written word, Gays were increasingly depicted, over the period, as normal.  Perhaps the single biggest factor in this victory was that the visibility of the struggle gave courage to tens of thousands in the LGBT community - famous and anonymous - to brave the times by increasingly coming out of the closet and declaring pride in who they are.  And as more and more stepped forward, it became more personal to millions of Americans.  It was the coming out that gave a face to a previously invisible populace.  Gays, Lesbians and Transgender people turned out to be brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, neighbors, friends and colleagues - and that recognition made it harder to deny them equal rights and cloak them in the shadows of invisibility.  And it made it easier for blocs of straight people to rally to the equality cause.  Gays turned out to be remarkably like everyone else.  And what they wanted was what everyone else already had.

AIDS played a role in all this too, as an unjust, merciless killer garnered for the Gay community, first contempt, and later not just sympathy, but respect for how the community mobilized and moved to protect and care for its own.  ACT Up taught gays not to be doormats.

And at every juncture was art.  Few memorials have had a more powerful impact than the AIDS Quilt - a work of art that enveloped the community and provided solace and hope in a dark hour.  The Rainbow Flag became the international symbol of the struggle of the community's fight for equality.  It was a rallying point and a banner; it provided shelter and a sense of belonging.  It proclaimed that the sacrifices of those who were, for their whole lives, relegated to the closet, were not in vain; that the time was coming when these people were going to stand up for themselves - and in so doing, like other groups before them, were standing up for the rights of everyone.

On Friday night, that flag - that piece of art - was replicated in a lighted White House exterior in an extraordinary recognition of the power of art as symbol of sanctity and safety.  A performance piece if you will of untold dimension.

The art of sound and music - which always plays a part in movements of humanity towards a better world - was present too, as the crowds on the steps of the Supreme Court spontaneously burst into a singing of the National Anthem.

That same afternoon, President Obama went to South Carolina to deliver a eulogy for South Carolina pastor and Senator, Clementa Pinckney, in an attempt to comfort and console the grieving relatives, the city of Charleston, and the nation.  And in another of Friday's extraordinary moments, the President boldly led the congregation in a chorus of Amazing Grace.  Most of us are far too shy and hesitant to even consider attempting a public solo a cappella rendition of any song.  The President's bold move was rewarded by those in the audience joining him in song; a visual reminder that while it's hard to go it alone, it's not so hard when you aren't alone; that music unites us and transcends our isolation.  Sometimes it just takes a leader to lead.

Not since Bill Clinton played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show have I seen a U.S. President engaged in a public display of art.  This was more profound.  I was overjoyed.

The art of the Pride Flag and the singing of a beloved hymn are, of course, while embracing a position,  neutral, in themselves.  As the Pride flag was elevated, the Confederate Battle flag was, last week, denigrated; for what it had become: a symbol of the cruel inhumanity of slavery.  And last week, the horrific death of those in Charleston, demanded that decency prevail and that that symbol be removed.

The point is how powerful art can be - whether used to build bridges or to tear them down.  And powerful, even if most people never think of it that way; never realize it.  And because people often don't recognize the role art plays in both the big and small moments of their lives, we need to remind them.

Absorbing the media coverage of these two events, I was struck by something else, and that was that despite the struggle for marriage equality taking decades to finally succeed, and despite the decades of resistance to recognizing the harm and pain caused by display of the Confederate Battle Flag - these decisive changes happened not so much in dribs and drabs, but all at once.  The overwhelming feeling in the Gay community was like my own:  I never thought I would see the marriage right accorded to Gays in my lifetime. I suspect many Black Americans might have similarly resigned themselves to the presence of the Confederate flag as an omnipresent insult.  But in a moment things had changed. Once the tipping point is upon you, it becomes an unstoppable avalanche.

And that I think is a lesson of hope for us in the arts.  For while it seems that we are forever relegated, like Sisyphus to push the rock that is public value, up that mountain, only to have it roll back down to the bottom - the victory we seek will be built on our relentless and continuing effort, bit by bit.  When it comes, it may surprise us all and come very quickly.   Though we can't see the tipping point, let us hope its close.   One thing I am sure of: art will continue to be near the center of the big moments in the nation's life.

And for that reason,

Don't Quit


Have a great week America.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Off this week

Good morning.
And the best goes on............

I'm taking this week off.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing - Final Day

Good morning.
"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?

Kyle Carpenter:
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.

Connie Martinez
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.

Tony Noice
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.

Teresa Bonner:
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.

Robert Booker:
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.

Gay Hanna
The Longview
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.

Don't Quit

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing Forum - Day 4

Good morning.
"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?

Gay Hanna:
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.

Robert Booker:
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.

Teresa Bonner:
The short answer to the question is that we need EVERYONE.  We need all these stakeholders and organizations and more.  We need housing developers, city planners, educators, and parks and recreation departments, for example, to consider how the arts can help them in their efforts to enhance long, healthy lives for everyone. 

Perhaps the better question is: “What tables should the arts be at and why aren’t we already there?”  For example, how are arts organizations involved in the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (38 U.S. cities are already part of the program)?  Which local community partnerships are addressing quality of life and health issues for older adults, but don’t include the arts?  What large senior housing projects are being developed in the back yards of arts organizations?  Numerous organizations and collaborations are addressing the need to help people live long, healthy lives, and the arts have much to contribute.  

As arts advocates, it’s easy to take offense when the arts aren’t invited to the table, but we need to find those tables, offer to sit at them, and generously contribute to their work.

Tony Noice:
All the above. Once again, the more we can present extensive and convincing evidence derived from well-controlled research, the more likely such stakeholders will come aboard.

Connie Martinez:
Beyond your list, I would add the faith-based community, economic development, corporate leadership groups and city planners to the conversation. 

Quality recruitment is about the right person asking the right people and then retaining them by providing the right experience.  The Aroha conference was a great example of this. 

Locally, I would start by getting a small group of leaders to experience a version of what I did at the Aroha gathering and then talk about how we can collectively move the needle in our region, having already thought through some of the changes I can make within my organization to align with the movement. 

Kyle Carpenter:
Everyone with a hand in aging should be willing to come together. Even at a small, local level, we have learned a lot through partnership with care centers. Collaboration is a big part of helping push arts and aging to a high-participatory level.
With so many older adults emerging out of the baby boomer generation there are some potentially enormous costs that will impact all of society. High costs in health care and housing, to name two. Local, state and federal legislatures getting involved could help a lot by allocating specific funds for arts and aging, and associated research. 

The medical community is a big opportunity as well. This aging generation takes the “doctor opinion” very seriously, and it would help for the medical community to be shown the benefits of arts on aging and for that community to become advocates. 

I would add corporations that do a lot of charity work, and their foundations, to take an interest in arts and aging. They often look to fund youth, and for good reason, but there may be opportunities to apportion meaningful amounts to help people across the lifespan and make arts and aging a mainstay as well. 

We also know that in the musical realm, universities often focus on teaching youth. Educational institutions should consider developing training programs or certifications, electives or classes offered for older adults and their care and well-being. 

The forum concludes tomorrow.

Have a great day.

Don't Quit

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing - Day 3

Good morning
"And the beat goes on……………….."

Day 3 - Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing Blog Forum

Question 3:
What kinds of research needs to be launched now so as to make the case for the value of the arts in aging and healing programs, and how can we involve the public in understanding and appreciating how the arts are making important contributions to both quality aging and healing?  What do funders (public or private) need to know to be more receptive to supporting these efforts? 

Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman:
The growing body of research confirming the benefits of arts engagement for older adults confirms what we, as arts practitioners already know to be true – the arts are good for you.  Good research is critical to successful fund raising.  However – are there enough programs being implemented and sustained to provide a meaningful sample size? Additionally, research assessing the economic benefits for arts and community organizations that develop and offer creative aging programs could help spur more activity. The research, has to be made available and accessible (in plain language) to the general public.

In our experience, what moves people to understand and subsequently support creative aging programs – is the experience of witnessing and/or participating in them.  To build public and professional awareness of the benefits of arts engagement, seed a critical mass of community based programs – make them visible, document them, disseminate them, talk about them.  Start conversations everywhere and with everyone.  A major public awareness campaign showcasing the transformative benefits for individual creative aging participants could be very powerful.

Teresa Bonner:
Participants in the NEA/NCCA Summit on Creativity and Aging, held in May 2015, focused heavily on the need for more research.  Several studies have shown the positive impact on quality of life and health on older adults of choral, dance, and theater training programs.  The world of science, however, requires that studies like these be these be replicated and conform to rigorous scientific review to be generally accepted.  There’s much left to learn - we don’t know if a 10-week program is more beneficial than a 4-week program, for example.

The cost-effectiveness of these programs must be studied, documented and broadly shared.  If singing, acting or dancing help stave off depression, falls, isolation, and decline, as early studies have shown, the societal savings will be enormous.  Researchers in colleges and universities have an opportunity to partner with creative aging programs to create these studies.

Given that this is a new field, third-party evaluations of creative aging programs are also needed to document and validate program outcomes, refine successful practices, and improve future impact.  These are expensive, and funders need to support them.

A caveat:  Teaching artists who work with older adults see their students blossom and hear them say that these programs make their lives better, make them happier, and provide something important to look forward to.  It can be frustrating for these artists and their program leaders to hear the call for scientific studies that define program benefits by health, rather than joy and meaning. It’s important to recognize, however, that we are building a new field and working to attract financial support at every level.  Funders – private and public – are driven by provable outcomes.  Perhaps the day will come when we won’t need more studies, but we’re not there yet.

Tony Noice:
The field needs both overall and discipline-specific arts investigations that offer solid evidence of effectiveness. When such research reaches a critical mass, public understanding should follow providing we all make an effort to get the results “out there.” At an NEA event last month, a fellow panelist compared the current arts/aging situation to early no-smoking campaigns. At first, such campaigns were largely ignored but as the evidence piled up, the situation changed completely.

Connie Martinez:
When your primary outcomes are joy, a sense of purpose and a better quality of life, case studies that inspire us and appeal to our “humanness” combined with “boomer” market data is the place to start. When adding health outcomes to the case, conducting primary research that demonstrates cost savings and other societal benefits is imperative.   A few breakthrough studies by credible research universities would make a huge difference.

Funders will also want to know where their investments will make the most difference. Many “boomers” will have discretionary income to spend but may not have access to opportunities or an understanding of their importance.  Many “systems” will have resources to leverage and access to the aging population but will not see the arts as part of the solution and so on.  Developing a systems framework for impact that is anchored in research and easily understood would be very helpful.

The best way for the public to understand and appreciate the arts is to experience it.  That said, a well thought out and heavily funded national campaign using high profile boomers spreading the gospel of the arts might be the faster way to jumpstart the artful aging movement eg think.. don’t be a litter bug, don’t smoke, wear your seat belts.

Bottom line, some will need stories, some will need pictures, some will need diagrams, some will need experiences and others will simply need facts and figures or a combination of all of the above.

Kyle Carpenter:
One of the things that comes to mind right away is the need for partners. Arts organizations, as providers, aren’t necessarily good researchers. The funders need to understand that aspect and acknowledge that it takes long term investment as well as large scale work to ensure reliable and meaningful results. Research projects that have a far reaching outlook are going to be more successful.

Some programs, although successful, are simply too small to scale, and don’t hold up in a research based manner. So collaboration between organizations to create a bigger research pool can be useful in those situations.

Also, more research that compares variables is important. For instance, some basic questions that need more backing is what can provide older adults with the most independence and the most engagement in the arts? If someone is living at home vs. a care facility, can we find a parallel between their work in arts and if they are cognitively stronger? How do social settings affect this growth?

We have found a very interesting TedEd video on YouTube titled “How playing an instrument benefits your brain”. This 5 minute video has been particularly effective with funders in conveying some complex neuroscience about Music and brain function in a simple and entertaining way.

Gay Hanna:
Research with a big R, a little r and most Importantly with a D – Research and Development

How much research in arts, aging and health is enough?  Again, with the expanding demographics and the growing needs for products and services “enough” only belongs to project specific work.  Members of this panel are much more versed than me in the “Big R” research that includes control and experimental group with random assignments and large enough sample sizes.  Since Gene Cohen’s seminal study on The Impact of Community Based Arts Programs on the Health of Older Adults in 2007, many new studies have been developed.  Funding is flowing from the National Institutes of Health with encouragement from the National Endowment for the Art’s Interagency Task Force.  These studies from the researchers included in this Blogathon are finding solid ground within related health and education sectors to form deeper partnerships that can help give way to collaborative work.

“Little r” research is what I am finding is happening on a more consistent basis.  This is outcomes research that ties arts interventions into the ongoing assessment of host organizations in health, education and social services.  Though not akin to the million dollar research grant, this work moves our field forward.  When we can work in a library, long term care, or educational facility to improve their specific goals and objectives as well as ours, programs become sustainable.  For example, NCCA maintains a team of artists at the DC VAMC Community Living Center (CLC) to build sustainable models in long-term care.  The outcomes of this NCCA Healing Arts in the Military project are tied to the goals and objectives of the VA’s patient centered care, patient satisfaction and staff satisfaction assessments.  Being sure that our work at the CLC is congruent means that the NCCA artists are an important part of the care team and the administration’s strategic plan.

Finally, in the Blue Ocean of program and product development, research endeavors need to go hand in hand with development.  We joke about working in a vacuum or as lone artists – the old ivory tower adage comes to mind.  Nothing could be farther from reality than this work in arts, aging and health.  In this work, a team incorporating interprofessional collaboration is key to success, along with keeping the end user central.  Therefore, advisory committees, focus groups, beta testing and optimized research with a “big R” makes for success.  Recently, John Zeisel from Hearthstone shared with me a theatre program that his organization is developing.  He founded the program on research conducted through a NIH grant.  The program had been designed to go to scale in a virtual format with Hearthstone planning to sell it through subscriptions to large assistant living systems.  Earned income from this product and services will be substantial.  The Cleveland Institute of Art almost stumbled onto product development, finding that their distance learning program for high schools, which is well grounded in arts education best practices, was a good fit with modifications to migrate to long term care facilities through subscriptions. NCCA developed the artists training guide and the new caregiver resource guide through focus groups and beta testing with interprofessional teams and end-user guided development.  Research and Development efforts need to be practiced to maximize every program or project design.
Funders need to know that our programs, products and services have evidence that the outcomes will be excellent while consistently meeting the goals and objectives of the end user, the partnering agencies, and our own organization goals.  Research at its best creates a common language and leverages assets for the greater good.

Robert Booker:
Recently, Aroha Philanthropies brought together 60 individuals engaged in direct service and philanthropy to creative aging programs across the country. The summit was an amazing gathering of arts and aging leaders and foundation and public agencies engaged in this work. The day started with a presentation on Ageism led by Ashton Applewhite, a Knight Fellow, New York Times Fellow and Columbia Journalism School Age Boom Fellow.  Applewhite challenged us to recognize not only the effects of ageism, but its pervasiveness within our society and even among all of us in the room.

This is where conversations and research needs to begin: we need to acknowledge our own fears, misconceptions and internalized ageism.

From there, our research should focus on a number of arenas:
  • Continuing to collect quantifiable data regarding the long term impact of arts participation by older adults. 
  • Identifying and highlighting best practices in both the aging and arts industries to showcase both innovative and traditional methods of arts engagement. 
  • Building on the research of Dr. Gene Cohen and others which demonstrates the benefits of arts engagement to the health of older individuals, and bringing this conversation more directly to the medical industry.  

Day 4 of the Forum continues tomorrow.

Have a great day

Don't Quit

Monday, June 15, 2015

Arts Aging / Arts Healing Forum - Day 2

Good morning
"And the beat goes on……………….."

Day 2 - Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing Blog Forum

Question # 2:
What do you think the role of individual arts organizations across the country is, and might be, in the relationships of art and aging / healing?  How can arts organizations who want to be involved in these areas move forward?  What are the steps involved, and what are the opportunities and the barriers and obstacles to mounting successful projects and partnerships that will address the aging / healing arenas?  Where can existing intersections be expanded, and how?  Working artists are crucial to these efforts.  What skills do artists need to work in the aging and healing areas?
Connie Martinez:
Because arts organizations are typically undercapitalized, the best way to get them involved is making it easy and financially viable or profitable for them to integrate artful aging into their existing work.  That starts by: 1) helping to quantify earned income potential from existing programs and services that can be offered to the “boomer” market without turning your organization inside out; 2) creating philanthropic incentives or seed funding to incubate new programs aligned with the movement; and 3) investing in systems or ways that easily connect supply (programs) with demand (artful agers).

As for the working artist, the key is to have paying clients that know your value and how to reach you.  Some clients may be individuals but most likely the artist will need connectors or “systems” clients eg health care systems, community centers etc.  Thus creating a qualified working artist directory that connects supply (artists) and demand (system clients) is imperative.

I know that special skills are required for teaching artists serving aging adults and I am eager to learn, but don’t really know.

Gay Hanna:
Opportunities Abound for Artists and Arts Organizations
A constellation of opportunities awaits artists and arts organizations related to aging/healing.  Some have already taken a deep dive into this work – 43% of visual arts museums have programs for caregivers and their care partners.  Adult education is booming in theaters and music halls.  I heard from the National Symphony this week about their program serving older adults.  Have you picked up a community college class catalogue lately?  The arts are front and center in continuing education, and older students are often offered free tuition to monitor classes including the arts. From arts camps for older people to sleep-overs in museums, there is no limit to arts entrepreneurship.  The Museum of Modern Art is producing a stunning array of programming called Prime Time for the 55+ crowd. Encore Chorales, a professionally led choral group for older adults, sing their way across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary.  Former band members are polishing up their instruments to play in the New Horizon Bands promoted by the Eastman School of Music.  The National Association of Music Makers (NAMM) has coined the phrase “recreational music making” to classify this new business model for their instrument makers and music stores.

Blue Ocean Theory
The Harvard Business Journal published an article titled Blue Ocean Strategy, which proposed a theory of business development where the prevailing paradigms shifts to such a degree that whole new business streams of products and services are needed to supply the opening demands of a new target population.  We in the arts are now in this kind of Blue Ocean.  The work we do requires a new, entrepreneurial business model.  Artists and arts organizations should assess their constituent communities needs, match the appropriate assets to them, and find new partners in the related fields that support the target populations.  Again, we need to focus on the end user – an adult with plenty of life experience who desires to be engaged in the arts as a creator.
Building the Foundation

A historical perspective on the state of the arts, aging and health over the past 10 years can be found in a recently published article by the Gerontological Society of America’s Special Issue on the White House Conference on Aging. It describes substantial growth in services in the areas of lifelong learning, health and wellness, and application in community design.  The interprofessional work between arts organizations, healthcare providers and social services such as those tracked through geriatric center consortia in Washington DC and the University of New England provides a breathtaking look at how older traditional artists/craftsman can be utilized to promote a strength based approach to healthcare serving older people and a new appreciation of the arts.

Challenges of Supply
Barriers and obstacles are falling as the new demographic swells the demand side.  We are well beyond Bingo now.  High quality accessible supply is our barrier to building this new market place for the arts, aging and health services.  At the recent White House Conference on Aging Summit on Creativity and Aging in America participants were tasked with articulating the issues and needs; barriers to resolutions; and support needed from related partners serving the three major sectors of arts/design – lifelong learning, health and wellness and age friendly community design. The major findings were basically the same across all three:

Issues: Social justice particularly in regards to ageism, a need for culture change, adequate supply of high quality programs, products and services that are accessible in both rural and urban communities

Barriers: Lack of professional development; research; business models; common language; infrastructure and funding

Support:  Incentivization through capital investments; tax credits; insurance reimbursement; inclusion/infusion of the arts into aging, health and communities services to facilitate place making

A white paper is being developed that will go into depth on issues raised, barriers identified and support requested.  The leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts, piloted by the tireless Beth Bienvenu, Director of the Office of Accessibility in partnership with her colleagues Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research, and Jason Schupbach, Director of Design, brought together the key partners in the intersection of arts and aging. This convening was dedicated with strong support from Chairman Chu to continue this robust focus on serving all Americans across their lifespans through providing accessibility to high quality arts participation and community design.

The Rock in the Pool
Teaching artists are crucial in these efforts along with other professionals – life enrichment, social workers, clergy, healthcare providers, family caregivers, and volunteers.  Anne Basting, Founder of TimeSlips, calls the artist “the rock in the pool.”  Artists are the only ones that can make the arts a process of meaning making for adults/older adults.  Let me say clearly that older adults want to paint, sculpt, dance, act and play music.  They do not want to be in arts programs for the aging.  They want to be in arts programs – no dumbing down and that goes for people with chronic illness.  All programs for adults should be pitched on a higher education level.  To do this, artists involved in work with older adults must work peer to peer.  In the 1950’s we called this teaching mythology andragogy – differing from pedagogy, which is all skill-based learning.  Andragogy uses life experiences and is highly learner driven.  Carl Jung stated that the arts and spirituality are ageless but that they flourish with age.  Let me also clarify that the arts in healthcare settings differ only in what artists must learn to produce programs in a clinical environment.  These are accommodations that keep the art making safe and appropriate for the health status of the patient.  Again, aging is not an illness, and healing is vital in all phases of life.

Dive In!
Support for artists and arts organizations is available for those diving into this work.  In partnership with the National Guild for Community Arts Education and The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, NCCA produced a free online toolkit for organizations.  Webinars updating this information are conducted on an ongoing basis along with conference presentations across arts service organizations.  At least nine  regional conferences on creative aging took place this year – in Florida, North Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Minneapolis, Pennsylvania, Utah, Tennessee and Arizona.  NCCA presented our second Leadership Exchange. The professional communities in attendance were those at the intersection of the arts, aging, education, and health and community services.  Artists especially have a range of new training tools such as the NCCA online artists training resource.  Over 250,000 learners from 153 countries have used this tool.  Lifetime Arts in conjunction with Aroha Philanthropies is poised to produce a best practice institute designed to elevate and codify effective ways of working in the field.  It is my hope, along with others in the field, that higher education will take seriously the need for training arts educators, arts administrators and artists to serve adults/older adults.

Finally, building sustainable services depends on securing consistent resources. Like any new area of business expansion, arts organizations need capital to deepen their work and expand programs to serve across the lifespan. The MetLife Foundation was the lead funder in arts and aging for over a decade, providing millions of dollars every year to large and small groups.  MetLife certainly helped NCCA to grow, built out programs like Meet Me at MoMA, and provided grants and awards programs to the National Guild for Community Arts Education.  Lifetime Arts and Elders Share the Arts, along with many other hybrid programs serving older people, received organizational support. When corporate changes were on the horizon, MetLife Foundation funded NCCA to give technical assistance to three grant making affinity groups – Grantmakers in the Arts, Grantmakers in Aging and Grantmakers in Health.  Each affinity group has produced resources for their grantmakers and each still continues to include creative aging in their conference presentation and webinars.  Over 200 grantmakers participated in this partnership project over three years.  I want to especially thank Janet Brown, Executive Director of Grantmakers in the Arts, for her leadership and consistent encouragement to this cause.  Together, we found Ellen Michelson and Teresa Bonner, the two women behind Aroha Philanthropies who are taking a huge leadership role in artful aging.  Margery Pabst of the Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts is doing heavy lifting to encourage, among other cutting edge arts-in-health projects, support for caregivers in using the arts. Other family foundations, including Helen Bader and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, are investing in arts programming that serves people with memory loss.  The field grows healthier as more funders become interested but many more are needed to fill the gap that the MetLife Foundation left. Indeed, the case is being made for investing in this work not as new programming but as hybrid portfolios of programmatic support in arts, aging, and health and community services to serve individuals across their lifespans.

Robert Booker:
At the most basic level, arts organizations who are thoughtful about their relationship with long term subscribers, members, donors and participants must engage in revised and improved practices regarding older audiences.

For years we have talked about the need for daytime productions, morning events, easy access to classes and lectures and even seating in museum galleries. And yet, for all of this talk, there is little evidence that our leading arts organizations have been listening.

For those arts organizations that are willing and prepared to go deeper, I would encourage them to proactively pursue partnerships and collaboration opportunities to develop creative aging specific programming. Here in Arizona, organizations like the Phoenix Art Museum and Mesa Arts Center have become an integral part of the healthy aging infrastructure of their local communities by fostering partnerships with health and senior service organizations and leveraging their existing assets to increase their value to older adults.

Professional teaching artists also have a vital role to play in providing services and resources for older adults and as the creative aging movement continues to build momentum, demand for their skills and talents will increase greatly. We need to begin now to prepare the field for this increased demand.  Our teaching artists’ training has been primarily geared toward working in our k-12 school systems and community venues. Teaching artists will need additional specialized education and professional development to be successful working with older adults, in senior community centers and in care and respite centers, for example. At the Arts Commission we have made this one of the three priorities of our new Creative Aging Initiative.

Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman:
For arts organizations who want to be involved in this area it means a culture change. Historically, arts groups have embraced K-12 arts education. It is an area that speaks to using the arts to further an educational agenda; to growing a new audience for the arts; and it’s a programmatic thrust that is always popular. And not to be too cynical, but it’s also an area for which funding is available and for which fundraising efforts have been successful. To move into the area of arts and aging in a meaningful way, arts organizations have to not only familiarize themselves with the research around arts and aging, but understand how these programs contribute to the quality of life of older adults. For years arts groups have chased the “white whale” of younger patrons. What they’re ignoring is the asset that’s most accessible; the majority of their audience which is middle aged and older patrons. A concerted effort to provide meaningful, participatory programs to this cohort will strengthen this audience/arts organization relationship. This stronger connection has the potential to result in more subscribers, donors and possibly board members. Arts groups already have access to teaching artists who know how to create curriculum and provide instruction. What these teaching artists need is training to acquire the skills and information necessary to be able to expand their teaching repertoire to be effective teaching artists for these age cohorts. Among the areas about which teaching artists need to be familiar are, the differences between community-based voluntary instruction and mandatory school-based classes; principles of adult learning; accommodations for physical limitations; and most importantly - sensitivity to ageism, understanding that one cannot generalize about the capabilities and capacities of older adults. Arts organizations have to begin to raise the bar and encourage older adults to be active participants rather than passive acceptors of entertainment.

Tony Noice:
I would suggest that arts organizations contact the appropriate departments (e.g., psychology, neuroscience, therapy) of local colleges and universities to explain their work and suggest cooperative investigations. In academia, newer department members are often anxious to generate publications in order to qualify for tenure. I think it is vital that scientists and artists work as a team because they both offer indispensible knowledge. Few researchers have in-depth understanding of any particular art form and, conversely, few artists are experts in scientific research design.

Teresa Bonner:
The first thing arts organizations need to do is expand their thinking about how they engage older adults. It’s time to embrace and deepen these opportunities.  Entertainment is not enough.  Older adults don’t only want to learn about an art form; many want to learn the art form themselves.  They want the joy of creativity and the sense of purpose and meaning that come with it.  This parallels the way arts organizations have engaged children and families over time, moving from simply bringing youth to performances and museums, to creating opportunities for youth to make art themselves.

As arts organizations do this, they need to better understand who older adults really are.  Too often, we see the stereotype, not the person, and we don’t ask what these individuals need and want. Today, “older” spans 40 or more years – who would put everyone from 10 to 50 years old in one category and expect them to be alike?

Arts organizations that want to engage in this work have many sources of information.  The National Guild for Community Arts Education published a great guidebook, Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit.   The National Center for Creative Aging,, is a wealth of information and contacts.  The NEA’s Office for Accessibility offers technical assistance and is a great resource. Over 30 state arts agencies interested in creative aging are participating in shared learning through an NEA/NCCA program called “Communities of Practice.”  Aroha Philanthropies has developed an informal resource guide on artful aging.

The professional teaching artist is crucial to development and expansion of this movement.  Successful artful aging programs are led by professional teaching artists who combine their creative process with a deep understanding of older adults, their needs and wants.  The teaching artist must be proficient in the essentials of sequential arts learning and embrace the wide range of abilities and interests of people from 55 – 100+ years of age – no small task!

Aroha Philanthropies is particularly interested in the development of professional teaching artists who want to work with older adults.  We believe they have the “secret sauce” that makes artful aging programs so amazing. We need many more of them.  Through our work with Lifetime Arts, we have surveyed the field to better understand how organizations engage, hire, train and support teaching artists who work with adult populations.  The survey results are informing the development of a teaching-artist training program that will incorporate the very best practices in the field.

Last, arts organizations know that successful collaborations spring from personal outreach and trusting relationships, and there are terrific examples of how this can be built.  The San Francisco Community Music Center approached the city’s aging and adult services program, as well as community centers, as they developed programming for older adults.  MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis reached out to senior housing organizations to deliver programs for their residents. The American Composers Forum has paired composers and choirs with a pediatric hospital to create and perform work based on the lives of real patients.  The list is exciting and growing.

Kyle Carpenter:
Our first responsibility is to take it seriously…to listen, to learn and understand what works and what doesn’t.  Out of that model comes developmentally centered and more sophisticated programming.  All arts organizations have a responsibility to execute very well. At MacPhail, we engage with people through music in a very participatory way, and it is our teaching artists that make a world of difference for the participant. Older adults tend to put a greater emphasis on proper credentials and qualifications for our teachers.  But these teachers also need to have compassion, patience and an understanding of the power of shared goals. A bit of self-deprecation and a good sense of humor also helps. These are insights from being an arts provider at all ages and seeing how older adults differ in their approach and their needs.

We have found that there is no set guidebook, and that every population is different, but someone has to go in and make it their own, create that solid foundation first and then adapt it to their settings and share their findings.

The Forum continues tomorrow.

Have a great day.

Don't Quit

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Blogathon on Arts and Aging / Arts and Healing - Day 1

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on……….."

Day 1 - Arts Aging / Arts Healing Blog Forum:

See last week's blog for an introduction to this Blog Forum.

Forum Participant's BIOS 

Kyle Carpenter, CEO - MacPhail Center for Music
Carpenter previously served as senior vice president for strategy and business development for Capella Education Company.  In this role he established the company’s first-ever growth venture, Sophia Learning LLC, a social media teaching and learning website

Carpenter’s past experiences include serving as president and CEO for Electrosonic Group, a large international digital media company, and three vice president positions with Honeywell.

In the community, he is a former board chair and trustee for Twin Cities Public Television, and a former board member of the Greater Twin Cities United Way.  Carpenter also serves as a director for the Harlem Globetrotters and CompView Systems, an audio visual systems and service company.

Carpenter is an accomplished guitarist.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Management Science from Duke University.  As a Honeywell employee he attended the company’s Advanced Program for Directors at Harvard University before attending the Aspen Institute (Switzerland) for International Management Development.

Teresa Bonner - Aroha Philanthropies
Teresa brings more than twenty-five years of professional experience in philanthropy, foundation and nonprofit leadership to her role as Program Director for Aroha Philanthropies' Vitality + Arts (55+ Arts) Program.  She previously served as director of the U.S. Bancorp Foundation, where she managed $20 million in Foundation grantmaking annually and led the company's community relations activities; the Piper Jaffray Foundation; and two nonprofit organizations, Milkweed Editions and the Library Foundation of Hennepin County. Arts and cultural programs have long been a major focus of her professional experience and a personal passion.

In collaboration with the Family Office Association, Teresa developed its first-ever survey of FOA members on the impact of their philanthropy and authored a white paper on the topic in 2013. Teresa served on the Council on Foundations' 2013 Family Philanthropy Conference Task Force and the Minnesota Council on Foundations' 2011 Family Philanthropy Symposium Planning Committee, and is a frequent speaker on philanthropy. She is a principal in Family Philanthropy Advisors, with offices in Minneapolis and the Bay Area.

Teresa graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Dakota with a degree in journalism. After completing Law School at the University of Minnesota, she clerked for the Hon. Gerald Heaney of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and was a partner at the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist and Vennum before moving to the nonprofit sector.

Connie Martinez - CEO -  Silicon Valley Creates
is the chief strategist, financial officer, fundraiser, champion and spokesperson for SV Creates.

As a 20 year old single mother of two, determination and pragmatism were the drivers behind her undergraduate degree in Finance and MBA in information systems from the University of Colorado. While in graduate school she joined a consulting firm that developed business plans and marketing strategies for businesses within the Rocky Mountain region. A new marriage brought her to California in 1986, at which time she joined the City of Mountain View's leadership team. After being the General Services Director, Planning Director and Deputy City Manager, she left the city to work for Becky Morgan who had left the state senate to lead Joint Venture Silicon Valley, where she worked for 6 years until being recruited by MRC Greenwood, the then Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, to help create the NASA Research Park for the UC system. While there she was recruited by her ALF class mate Dennis Haar to lead the Children's Discovery Museum. That was her introduction to downtown San Jose and the beginning of her quest to build community and a sense of place in Silicon Valley through urban design and arts and culture. She co-founded 1stACT Silicon Valley in 2006 to do just that. 1stACT's model was venture like, with a 5-10 year catalytic run and Arts Council Silicon Valley was one of our five exit partners.

Gay Hanna - Executive Director, The National Center for Creative Aging

Gay Powell Hanna, Ph.D., M.F.A., an arts administration leader with 30 years management experience in the arts, education and health related program services, is the executive director of the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), an affiliate of George Washington University. NCCA is an interdisciplinary nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and the quality of life for older people regardless of ethnic, economic status or level of physical or cognitive functioning. NCCA provides professional development and technical assistance including service as a clearinghouse for best practices, research and policy development to encourage and sustain arts and humanities program in various community and health care settings.

Previously Dr. Hanna served as the executive director of the Society for the Arts in Health from 2003 through May 2007. Through faculty positions at Florida State University and University of South Florida from 1987 to 2003, Dr. Hanna directed VSA Arts of Florida, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, providing arts education programs for people with disabilities including people with chronic illness. In 2001, she established the Florida Center for Creative Aging at the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida to address quality of life issues. As a contributing author to numerous articles and books, Dr. Hanna was the lead author of a recently published white paper produced by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts and Human Development, Framing A National Research Agenda For The Arts, Lifelong Learning, And Individual Well-Being (November 2011). Dr. Hanna is an associate professor at George Washington University in the Health Sciences Department. She holds a Ph. D. in arts education with a specialization in arts administration focusing on underserved communities from Florida State University; a M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Georgia; and a bachelor of arts degree, magna cum laude in studio art, from Old Dominion University. She also holds certification in program evaluation from Florida State University and a nonprofit management executive certificate from Georgetown University.

Robert Booker - Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts
is Chair of Grantmakers in the Arts and co-chair of the Arts and Culture Committee of the Arizona Mexico Commission, an appointment by Governor Napolitano. Previously, he was executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board and president of the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Bob serves on the boards of the Leadership Council of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, Western States Arts Federation, and the B and L Charitable Foundation. Bob, a painter and art collector, has served as a panelist for numerous state arts agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman,  Co-founders, Lifetime Arts, Inc.
Maura O'Malley is an arts specialist with over twenty-five years experience in program design and implementation, arts education policy and funding, non-profit arts management and community cultural work. She has worked with the New York State Council on the Arts, Westchester Arts Council, New York City Department of Education, and Studio in a School Association, Young Audiences of New York and many other premiere arts, educational and community organizations. Maura graduated from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and earned a Masters of Public Administration in Arts Policy and Planning from New York University.

Ed Friedman has spent over 25 years in parallel careers serving the arts community, and older adults and their families. As Deputy Director at the Bronx Council on the Arts (1985-2010), Ed played a leadership role in the formulation of policy and programming, advocacy and community development, as well as overseeing technical assistance services. Ed has directed programs at senior centers and home care programs, and created and led a caregivers' support group in the northern Bronx. He received a B.A. in Psychology from Hunter College and M.A. in Liberal Studies from Empire State College (SUNY). Ed's plays appear in a number of anthologies and have been produced throughout the NY metropolitan area.

Tony NoiceAdjunct Professor of Theater - Elmhurst College
Elmhurst College faculty member Tony Noice (and his wife Helga) were invited by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences to take part in a public workshop that explored how the health and well-being of older adults can benefit from participating in the arts. The workshop, which took place on Friday, September 14, in Washington, D.C., featured leading neuroscientists, psychologists and researchers, as well as practitioners in health and the arts. They presented findings from their research on the arts and aging, with the goal of helping the NIH and NEA to pinpoint potential opportunities for future research.
The Noices, who for more than two decades have researched the use of theater arts to enhance healthy cognitive aging in older adults, talked about their latest project during a presentation on how arts programs for older adults affect brain function.

The Noices recently were awarded a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that has enabled them to conduct a study that, for the first time, incorporates brain scans into their research. The scans are allowing the Noices to measure and identify exactly how the learning of acting techniques might slow down or even reverse the negative effects of aging on the brain.

The study is being conducted with researchers from the University of Illinois’ Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. In the study, participants receive brain scans before and after taking part in “interventions” that involve the theater arts. During the interventions, some of the participants receive actual theater training. Other participants read and discuss plays or learn about the art of acting, but receive no training. “The question we hope to answer is, do you need the actor’s experience—specifically, active involvement in the acting process—to obtain positive cognitive benefits?” Helga Noice says.

The Noices have long held the answer to be yes. “We know that stimulating activities make the brain work more efficiently, and an acting class provides just the right kind of stimulation,” Helga Noice says. “Acting takes advantage of the hallmarks of stimulating activities, including novelty and a socially supportive environment.”

Question #1:
As the Boomer generation is set to retire, the floodgates of older Americans is poised to become a tidal wave. In the past few years, there has been considerable interest in, and activity around, the intersections of art and aging, and arts and healing.  Indeed, the arts have been integrated into a wide variety of health care and community settings.   Many of these intersections started out as dialogues and discussions, and have grown to become projects and programs involving the arts and any number of partners - ranging from those in the scientific, military, research and medical / health system / caregiver communities, and those in the field whose primary mission is to work with elders to improve the general quality of their lives.  

From your perspective, what do you think is the current state of these intersections,what is going on that is working and excites you (both that which you are involved with and what others are doing) and what needs to be done to scale up the "on the ground" efforts to a wider and deeper level?  In terms of practical application, where do we go from here?

Kyle Carpenter, CEO - MacPhail Center for Music

There is definitely a growing emphasis on the value of arts in the lives of older adults. The baby-boomer generation wants to keep learning. They want to feel challenged, to be valued and remain a vital part of society.

Previously, the idea of integrating arts, like music for example, were viewed as “nice to haves” or luxuries, with a lot less knowledge about the direct and powerful impact this activity has on overall health and quality of life. There has been a lack of understanding about what today’s older adults are capable of doing and what they are capable of achieving. Many programs’ providers don’t develop activities for deep participation and impact because they never had to.

MacPhail is a program provider and we still see a lot of requests for what we would consider non-participatory activities. For example, “Can you come and sing for us?” This passive action doesn’t require deep engagement by the individual. But historically, this is the basis for many arts programs in the aging community. This lighter programming correspondingly takes on a “feel good” or “nice to have” characterization.  Moving forward, we want to develop and deliver programs that engage and challenge individuals that are characterized as “essential” for well-being and quality of life.

The intersections occur where education about the importance of arts and aging connects with deeper participatory programming. Today, some care centers are beginning to approach us differently. They are not only interested in the act of singing, but are interested in the non-musical benefits singing can bring to an individual.

What helps back this, of course, is new research and other driving factors that take these arts-focused experiences from anecdotal to proven and substantiated.

Teresa Bonner - Aroha Philanthropies

These intersections are being driven by multiple groups:  Baby boomers, health care, arts organizations and arts educators, researchers, aging services, and even public libraries.  Each has its own agenda, and the opportunity for mutual benefit is enormous.

First, older adults, especially baby boomers, are reframing the conversation about what a long life can mean.  For too long, the dialogue relating to aging has been about losses – in health, family and friends, financial security, independence, memory, and more.  Service providers in health care, housing and aging services are trained to identify a problem and treat it – and in that framework, aging is the problem.  Today, however, the conversation is being reframed to focus on the assets of age and how we can leverage them to make life better for everyone.

Second, health care in America is also being reframed.  In the past century, health care has focused on identifying a disease and its treatment – usually a pharmaceutical.  Over the past few years, health care has begun to embrace integrative health programs that engage the mind, body and spirit to optimize health and healing.  The arts and art therapy are becoming important contributors to this approach to care.

Third, the arts world is awakening to the potential of fostering active participation in the arts, not just audience consumption of the work of professional artists.  Dr. Jane Chu, the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, heavily emphasizes participatory arts as she meets with arts groups across the country. It’s an important shift.

Fourth, in the past decade, research has gotten into the act. The National Institute of Health is funding a major five-year study that examines the health benefits of active arts participation. Dr. Julene Johnson of the University of California San Francisco, the San Francisco Community Music Center, and the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services are collaborating in this effort.  The National Institute on Aging is calling on researchers to seek out participatory arts programs for older adults and to devise collaborative research studies.  The National Endowment for the Arts initiated a federal Inter-Agency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, which includes many branches of the federal government.

Fifth, the world of aging services is becoming aware of the potential benefits that participatory arts can bring.  Senior communities are creating high quality opportunities for active arts learning by their residents. EngAGE, a California-based organization, has partnered with arts organizations and senior housing developers to create senior artist colonies that deliver high quality arts education in a community living environment. Minnesota-based Ecumen, a senior housing provider, has forged an innovative alliance with ArtSage,, which has trained 106 teaching artists to work with older adults.

Last, to many people’s surprise, public libraries are becoming active players in this new, expansive thinking.  New York-based nonprofit Lifetime Arts developed an innovative program that trains public libraries to initiate and host high quality sequential arts-learning programs taught by professional teaching artists in library settings.  The American Library Association and the Institute for Museum and Library Services are active partners in the national expansion of this program.

The biggest challenge to all these opportunities is ageism.  Our culture makes older adults invisible, ignores their assets, and limits their worth.  Read “This Chair Rocks:  Pushing Back Against Ageism”, a blog by Ashton Applewhite, and your perspective on this will change quickly.  We’ll make real progress when many more of us believe that gray is the new black, that older adults have enormous creative assets waiting to be tapped and shared, and that communities can help make 75 or 85 or 95 years quite fabulous with a little support and encouragement.

Where do we go from here?  This movement is building momentum quickly.  We need to clarify intention and language in building programs. We need to document, evaluate, and share high quality, successful programs much more broadly.  We need more funders to recognize the potential value of these programs and get involved.  

Connie Martinez  - CEO, Silicon Valley Creates

The fact that we are talking about the intersection between art, aging and health is very exciting because so much of the conversation, at least in Silicon Valley, has been about engaging the next generation of arts consumers and producers.  As for scaling what feels like a nascent conversation, the framing of the conversation and the messenger matter.

I was introduced to the topic of artful aging through a conference produced by Aroha Philanthropies. It was excellent.  Of course being a “boomer” made the conversation more relevant but it was the combination of thoughtful people and inspiring content that won me over. Seems to me that inspiring a network of leaders with an existing base of resources and connections to other networks is the place to start, and then supporting their efforts to integrate the movement into their work.

Gay Hanna  - Executive Director, The National Center for Creative Aging

Yes, once, again, we boomers are changing the world as we set out to do in the 60’s!  This time, though, we are in a bigger bulge than ourselves.  We are at a true demographic shift made possible by better education, health and social services.  In The Atlantic Journal October 2014 Issue’s article titled The New Science of Old Age – What living to 100 will mean for you and for Society?,  Gene Easterbrook writes that even the conservative demographers estimate lifespan to be 100 years of age by the end of this century.  Not surprising considering that during the 20th century life expectancy rose from 44 years of age to 79 years of age for men and 81 for women.  The human race is gaining decades of life – and good life at that.  The health span has increased, and aside from chronic illness  (the natural process of aging not withstanding) we can live well until a year or six months before we die.  One can argue, like Atul Gawande, author of New York Times Best Seller Being Mortal does, that a person can live well right up to their passing.  This trend of longevity is global despite wars and plagues; the aging pyramid is now becoming a column with a strong composition across ethnic groups.

What we do with this new, truly glorious lengthened lifespan is up to us as individuals, families units, and communities.  Some say that we are about to invent a new stage of life. This is not unprecedented, since a new stage of life was created at the beginning of the 20th century – adolescence.  Yes, the “teenage years” were not always with us but through longer life came more time between childhood and adulthood and so the term “teenager” was born.  What will this new phase of life become?  I am certain that creative expression (or as Bill Ivy writes: Expressive Living) will be an important part of healthy aging, growing and living across generations.  Easterbrook postulates that as society increases its lifespan, theatre-going will out pace the popularity of football because people become gentler with age. I am somewhat skeptical of that idea, but there is no doubt that profound changes are occurring in our society.  Neurologists can track how the brain still generates brain cells once not thought possible and brain health can be continually gained through bi-hemispheric activities after age 50. (Participation in arts, by the way, creates bi-hemispheric activities – brain scans have proved it.)  Nature and nurture have a broader playing field because of longevity, and the importance of the arts grows in accordance.

Are we in the arts ready to plan services that engage participants for 100 years?  Not exactly. In The Arts and Human Development – Framing A National Research Agenda For the Arts, Lifelong Learning, And Individual Well Being, a white paper created from a summit between the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Department of Health and Human Services and authored by the National Center for Creative Aging, brought together information about how the arts impact our lives at each stage of development – childhood, youth and old age.  It was the first time arts policy looked across the lifespan.  There is now evidence to support participation in the arts across the lifespan but the infrastructure required to support that participation is still under construction – a lighter load in early childhood/youth with much heavier work needed to support adults. The demand exists from the growing older adult population that has improved overall health and education.  What we need is supply –- high quality arts based supply -- that is accessible in all of our communities.  As a result of the Arts and Human Development white paper, a National Endowment for the Arts interagency task force was developed and the National Academies of Sciences hosted a second convening.  The workshop, titled The Arts and Aging: Building The Science, focused attention on the research needs at the intersection of the arts, aging and health.  The resulting paper tracked progress and noted the barriers including the lack of cost benefit analysis.

Finally, the third national summit was held on May 18th, 2015 as an official convening of the White House Conference on Creativity and Aging in America, co-presented by the National Endowment for the Arts  and the National Center for Creative Aging. Sixty experts gathered to address the infrastructure needs in building out participation within the arts and design field, focusing on how the arts can foster lifelong learning, health and well being, and age friendly communities. It is good to know that the arts/design have been part of the White House Conference on Aging, held every ten years since 1981, to keep the arts in the national conversation as the impact of this huge demographic change rolled closer.  What is exciting is that we have arrived at this time beyond the outlook of the field’s founders in the 1970’s -- beyond the pioneering programs which are now being replicated into a new world of opening systems where all artists and arts organizations can participate.  We have reached a critical mass, we have built a research base and, and we are developing policies where once doors were firmly closed to us in the education, health and community planning sectors.  And yes, growing pains are and will occur as we all sort out work and leverage resources.

Let us keep ourselves anchored on who is our end user in the arts and how they/we are a part of this exciting process of reimagining ourselves and the world through this new longevity.  How quickly can the arts evolve to meet demand through systems change in practice, research, policy and business development?  Certainly these adjustments in arts service models will take time and attention to produce new ways in art making and place making with new collaborators forming economies of scale.  Are we at an intersection or in a swarm…better yet… a constellation of opportunities in the arts, enabling us all to live longer and better for generations to come?

Robert Booker - Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts

I have been impressed by the depth and variety of programs that aim to engage older adults in the arts, from small-scale home-based efforts to major initiatives within the medical and aging industry. Throughout the country and internationally, we are increasingly seeing artists working with health and aging professionals to develop innovative, impactful activities and arts organizations stepping forward to offer specialized programming and classes for adults across the aging spectrum. In particular, programs that engage individuals with cognitive disorders are high on the list of activities where we see a direct and immediate impact.

Recently I visited a Benevilla adult day center. Benevilla has made creative aging a central component of their work with older adults. On this visit I was able to observe a program they have developed for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caretakers. A poet and a musician engaged the folks in storytelling, poetry and music. The positive response from the participants was to me, a novice in this arena at the time, astounding.

We’re keeping an eye on programs and initiatives nationwide, trying to determine what works well, what is less effective, and where additional investment and programmatic support could be most beneficial.

Looking further down the road, I’m curious what the Creative Aging movement—itself a convergence of movements within the arts, aging and health sectors—might learn from past convergence movements? The tipping point for such movements, the moment when a niche cause becomes the subject of public policy discussions, often occurs when secondary and tertiary industries begin to recognize how this movement reflects their own values, addresses their own concerns and serves their own agenda. The challenge is to expand our thinking about how this work serves society and to engage partners beyond the arts, aging and health sectors.

Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman,  Co-founders, Lifetime Arts, Inc.

For more than ten years, we’ve been working “at the intersection of aging and the arts” working out the nuts and bolts of how to help shift arts programming for older adults from passive entertainment – to community-based, engaged learning opportunities.   As arts professionals and as caregivers, we recognized a need for an infrastructure to help pull together the scattered ideas and program efforts around the emerging field of Creative Aging. Now, with a consistently growing number of programs, funders and partners, our work, and that of our colleagues is more than “intersections” – more than just a trend or passing phase.  Building the field is now intentional.  We are in the very early stages – it’s comparable to what the field of arts in education was 40 years ago.  There are innovative programs popping up in every type of community, lots of experimentation about content and format and partnering, an ad hoc work force – little training and just the beginnings of “best practices”.  What is working is the perseverance of the field’s pioneering and intrepid leaders who are seeking out and collaborating with innovative and experienced teaching artists and building a “community of practice”– a stronger, more organized network of policy makers and practitioners across a wide range of sectors.
Where do we go from here?  Train teaching artists to work with older adults; Build community partnerships around arts learning; Seed significant numbers of programs in communities. Promote them, celebrate them and document them. Do more extensive research on the benefits of arts engagement for older adults – and on the economic benefit for community organizations.  Build a broad base of support by widening the pool of “stakeholders”.  Continue the fight against ageism through the arts.

Tony Noice - Adjunct Professor of Theater - Elmhurst College

I believe that the greatest need is for much more high-quality research that scientifically establishes the cognitive, emotional and physical benefits of participation in the arts. In our recent article in The Gerontologist (Noice & Noice, 2014), only 31 preventative studies were found that met the criteria for inclusion. Fortunately, the picture is somewhat better for treatment after illnesses have already taken hold. However, our particular priority is prevention and, if a great deal of additional compelling research is published (and disseminated through the media) large-scale implementation might follow.

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