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.

The Forum continues tomorrow.  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the blog logo at the top to go to the site, scroll down to the end of today's blog and click on the comments, and enter your comment.

Have a great day.

Don't Quit