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