Sunday, July 28, 2019

Arts Employee Rights and Written Policies

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

I have in the past written about the lack of policies for various things in the arts, or more specifically, written polices.  Policies are not laws or regulations.  There is no enforcement provision.  Policies are broad recommendations in a given area, around which there is widespread consensus that certain perceptions ought to govern our actions.  Policies are aspirational, but should also be intentionally practical.  Policies state the framework and often include the standards for action in a given area; guidelines for all to adhere to and follow.

Written policies encourage action and clarify and codify shared objectives and common ground.

Thus, the arts policy on arts education might be:
We support the inclusion of K-12, sequential, standards based, arts education in music, dance, theater and visual arts, taught by professionally trained teachers, for all students in all areas of America.   We urge all school districts to support and enable the foregoing minimum goal.

An area in which many organizations do not have a formal, written  policy (such as embodied in an Employee Handbook) is in the area of Employee Rights.  I wonder how many arts organizations have an Employee Handbook embodying the organization's policies on all employee matters.

What might the arts policy towards employee rights include?

Such a written policy might address the following areas:

1.  Safety:  On the easy (to agree on) side, such a policy would include provision of a safe workplace for all employees - free from harassment and discrimination of any kind, including provision for a bias free organizational culture that promotes inclusion, and which proactively addresses systemic racism and inequality, and free of any hazards of a danger to employees.

2.  Support:  A purposefully supportive and encouraging environment, wherein all employees feel enabled and encouraged to excel.  Under this banner, we might include respect for the dignity of employees.  This might also include provision of professional training opportunities available to all employees on a fair and equitable basis.

3.  Equality:  Should our organizations provide equal pay for equal work, independent of age, gender or other qualifying category?   Should our organizations provide that any benefit provided to some employees, would need to be provided to all employees?  If there is a distinction between management employees and rank and file, what is that distinction and how is it manifested?

4.  Compensation and Benefits:  Should our organizations provide a minimum wage?  What about interns?  Should they be paid a minimum?  Should that minimum wage for full time employees be a living wage - defined as sufficient enough to cover minimal living expenses of room, food, transportation, et. al. for the cost of living of a given area?  (So someone working in Silicon Valley or New York City would need greater revenue that someone living in Fresno or Buffalo).  But can small and mid-sized arts organizations afford such a suggested requirement?  What would have to change to make that a reality?   Should all arts organization employees be provided a minimal level of health insurance?  Is that affordable?  What about retirement benefits or contributions by the employer?  Is that possible?

What about overtime work - which in our field is generally the norm.  Should there be a provision requiring some additional compensation for work over and above some demarcation line?  What about flexible time?  What about vacations and days off?  What about sick leave?  Childbirth leave?  Bereavement leave?  There are all kinds of questions about employee compensation.  I am wondering how some arts organization may have tried to address these issues within the context of how we, as arts organizations, function and exist.

At this point, it's becoming clear that given the cash flow of most arts organizations, an ideal employee rights policy in the area of compensation might be a Utopian reach.  In that case how might the employee rights policy towards compensation be written?

5.  Employee termination:  Should there be a formal process for terminating employees, and what rights would employees have in such cases as to process or decision?  What about a grievance policy - including process and procedure?

6.  Career Trajectory:  Inclusion of performance reviews; availability of advice and counsel in career matters; issues of promotion and advancement; issues of privacy protection.

These aren't all of the issues that pertain to employees of an arts organization by any means.  Any consideration and discussion of how to embody the rights (and obligations) of employees might start with the above, and expand from this point.

Employee handbook templates are available free online, and for many organizations that might be a good starting off point to consider all the issues that are at play for employees of arts organizations.  But with, or without, that starting point, it is, I think, advisable for every arts organization to have an internal discussion about all these issues.  Clear understanding of how the organization treats any of these issues is important in fostering the best relationship between those who work for the organization and the organization itself.  Transparency is key.  Having considered all the issues that might arise, before they do, can save time, resources, money and problems in the future.

I think it's also important for the sector as a whole to go through his kind of exercise and discussion. and try to arrive at some minimal consensus as to what kind of employee policies we want to endorse and recommend in general.  A policy that embraces one set of values, or rejects another, says a lot about that sector and its respect for those who work within it.

IMHO, employee rights and relations is an area that needs a written policy - for each organization and for the whole sector.  

Have a good week.

Don't Quit

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Two Things To Do If You Really Want to Be an Effective Leader, Boss or Entrepreneur

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

There is no shortage of advice and counsel on the skills you need to be an effective leader, the things you ought to do to be a boss who motivates and gets the best from his/her team, or on the things to embrace to succeed as an entrepreneur and founder of an organization.  Everywhere there are lists of the things you need to master to be successful in these roles.

Forget all that.  Here are the two most important things you need to do in all those situations:

First.   Believe in those you hire or who work for you.  Really believe in them.  Yes, its important that people have credentials and experience, and that they fit into the culture of your organization.  That's part of believing in those people - in their abilities, in their potential, in their capacities, in their value and worth.  But truly investing your belief in them is an extra step.  If you don't believe in them as catalysts to your organization's success, if you don't trust their instincts and abilities, if you find you don't really care about them as people, then you shouldn't have hired them in the first place, and / or you shouldn't continue their employment at your organization.  You need to be highly confident that the people you have are the absolute best people for your organization at this point in time.  And you need to demonstrate that belief to them.

Second.  IF you truly believe in your people, then the second step in leadership, authority and entrepreneurism is to do everything you can to enable those people to do their jobs up to their full potential.  That includes providing them with ongoing professional development training and opportunities, creating an environment that allows and encourages them to succeed, and ongoing, continuing efforts to build up their self-esteem and confidence.  It includes being a mentor and a coach; taking an interest in their career trajectories.  Once you believe in someone, then your job is to help them shine.  You need to constantly reinforce their own self opinion of the rightness of their thinking and gut instincts.  No, that doesn't mean they will be right 100% of the time, rather it means that you trust them over time.  You may have to make critical suggestions from time to time, but always be supportive, and in a caring way.  The culture of your organization should reflect this "belief in the people" attitude.   If you don't believe in someone, they will know it, and that will, often times, negatively impact their performance; multiplied, it will harm the organization.  Highly successful organizations believe in their collective selves, and it shows.  That starts with your belief in your people.

First you believe in your people, or change the situation. Then you help those people to believe in themselves.

Follow these two rules, and you and your organization will maximize your continuing success.  Everything else, every other skill set you need, stems from these two rules.

A Note of Caution:  As the leader, the head of the team, the founder, the one in charge, you will provide direction, oversight and review of a team's work - thinking, process, approach, implementation and results.  That's your job.  That doesn't, however, mean micromanagement.  If you believe in your people, let them do their jobs and trust them.  Get out of their way. Micromanagement is a conceit and arrogance that says you don't believe in someone's ability - not in comparison with your own.  It's counterproductive, inefficient and toxic.  Countless icons of business, nonprofits, and government have all concluded that the secret to success is to find and retain people who are as, or more, gifted, talented, insightful, and smart as you are, then turn them loose.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Creative Aging Arts Programs for Seniors - Wrap Up

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

Over the last several months, I've posted a series of interviews with Aroha Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts® grantees, centering on their creative aging programs, with the intent that providing you with the impressions of actual on-the-ground experiences by these organizations would be helpful to those of you contemplating the design and launch of a creative arts program targeting seniors, and to those of you about to launch such an effort.  Included were comments from senior participants in the programs.

My stated intent, as a senior with enormous interest in the arts, has been to convince those of you who have not yet investigated the launch of a senior program, to consider doing so.  And to encourage arts organizations all over the country to take the plunge and establish this kind of programming for your organization, so that we might hit the tipping point and bring this kind of programing to scale, where these programs become ubiquitous.

While increasing numbers of arts organizations are getting involved in programming for seniors, we still aren't anywhere yet near scale.

So why should you make this the year you first explore your options for senior creative programing, and then get down to the nuts and bolts of its design and implementation?

There are several reasons. Consider:

1.  The senior population is growing substantially.  As the Boomers continue to age and retire, every state and every community is seeing their senior constituencies grow, and that is likely to continue for the next decade or more.

2.  While a percentage of senior retirees will continue to reside in the communities they have long called home, there will also likely be increased migration of this senior population from places where they grew up, worked and raised families, to other areas that might better suit their retirement needs, including, for many, less urbanized areas and areas where the cost of living has risen less, as well as moves to be closer to where their children have settled.  Thus, not only is your organization likely to have its senior cohort grow, there is a good chance a percentage of that cohort will be new to your area.  Both will constitute potential new audiences, donor pools and supporters.

3.  For the near term, this growing cohort of seniors, while predominantly white, will reflect the overall population and include all groups.  A portion will be relatively well off, with disposable leisure income and time.  In the very earliest years of their retirements, it is likely they will continue the same kinds of participation patterns in which they previously engaged.  If you want to continue to keep their involvement, or, in the case of newbies to your territory, to attract their participation in your arts discipline and organization, as audiences, supporters, donors, volunteers and public advocates, you would do well to now consider how you might both appeal to their creative instincts and provide programming to them.

4.  While the Boomer population moves towards senior status and retirement, their numbers won't yet be replaced, as the Gen X population immediately behind them isn't nearly the size required to replace the Boomers, and the large Millennial generation, while at the early stages of moving to full employment, with disposable leisure income, and towards families and home ownership, as a generation it is largely still somewhat financially limited, with maximum demands on its leisure time.  Thus, the long-term dependence of the sector on the Boomer population for literally every aspect of our organizational survival and growth, will continue - with the difference being that the Boomers are becoming seniors.  While the longer-term future will, of course, be younger generations, in the immediate future our fortunes will continue to depend, in large part, on our relationships with Boomers.

The demographics thus suggest that a failure to provide programming specifically targeted to the needs and desires of the Boomers is a risky proposition, particularly for cultural institutions.  The age demographic in your community and your constituency within that community is changing.  Of course, virtually every arts organization's core programming appeals to seniors as well as all age demographics.  But we're not talking about accessing, enjoying and appreciating your core programming.  We're rather talking about enabling seniors to create that art on their own, at as high a level as we can enable them.  If you want to think of your market and your relationship to your audiences, donors and supporters as static, and one that will be the same in five, ten or fifteen years, then good luck with that approach.  The time to understand the demographic changes and their implications is now.

And just what would moving towards providing creative aging senior programming do for your organization?  Consider:

1.  Particularly at the younger and middle ends of the senior cohort, they remain your potential audience.  Many now have time they did not previously have to enjoy the arts, and many have the money too.

2.  They also constitute a target for increased financial donor support.  And a portion of this cohort is increasingly philanthropic.  The Boomer-accumulated wealth will, over the next two decades, undergo the largest wealth transfer in the history of the country.  Increased involvement with your organization may yield financial philanthropic benefits.

3.  They constitute a target for being active advocates for public support and good will.
And seniors, with time on their hands, have historically been a very vocal, active and effective lobbying bloc for what they value.

4.  As the senior market grows, there is likely to be increased interest in attempts to provide services to that group from both public and private decision makers, elected officials and private sector companies, and having senior programs allows your organization to position itself to leverage the additional funding that is coming.  Seniors vote. They have money.  Politicians and companies will cater to them.

5.  Then too, this kind of programming, especially for organizations getting involved at the early stages, as it is somewhat novel, is fodder for increased media coverage, and the more your organization can develop relationships with the media, the better your will fare, on multiple levels, in the future.  Programing for seniors is community engagement.

6.   These projects lend themselves to collaboration and cooperation with other senior-focused community organizations, including senior centers, assisted living facilities and even libraries and hospitals.  These relationships can be important to you in other ways than just the above benefits.

7.   Most arts organizations have as part of their mission and / or goals and objectives to provide arts education opportunities within their communities, and arts education, if we are to make up for the lack of it in schools over the past two decades, and if we are to embrace it as a necessity, must be lifelong education.

8.  Finally, while the programming we are talking about is not specifically directed at the health issues of seniors, but rather at their social enjoyment being challenged with quality artistic instruction, there is increasing anecdotal evidence that this kind of arts participation may have very positive physical and mental health impacts and outcomes on senior's health issues, and that will surely be an incentive to many seniors to want this kind of programming.

So what are the perceived obstacles:

1.  It's Expensive.  It's NOT expensive.  The major capital outlay as outlined in the Interview Series is the Professional Teaching Artists.  And their involvement is the hallmark of these projects, as they provide the standard of instruction being offered, which is a high bar that respects the potential of the senior participants and provides quality instruction as the learning opportunity.  If you read the Interviews you will see virtually unanimous consensus on the value of these programs to both the organization and the participants precisely because they are designed to be more than a babysitting service for seniors.  They are designed to provide artist level training.  It’s about self-respect, for both the organization and the participant.  It’s about quality.  The expense is not prohibitive, and the bulk of the expense supports working / teaching artists.

Moreover, there is money at every level that can be leveraged to help with the expense.  At some point, I expect state and local arts agencies will be providing services to broker funding partnerships, but in the meantime, senior centers, nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities, hospitals, local foundations, city and county governments are all potential partners at one level or another.  AND, you can start your senior program on a modest level.

2.  It's too Time Consuming.   Every program takes some time to do well, but this kind of program is no more time intensive than most others.  The Teaching Artists are key in this area too, as a portion of the workload is assumed by them.  Moreover, the potential collaborative partners also contribute time and expertise.  And very likely a portion of your volunteers are seniors.  Enlist their help.

3.  Coming Up with the Programming is Difficult.   NOT REALLY.  Seniors aren't from Mars.  Their tastes and experiences are not some unknowable thing.  Most arts organizations, of whatever size or discipline, have plenty of experience in programming for seniors.  BE CREATIVE, this is an area that invites creativity in the design of the program as well as its execution.  Teaching Artists, collaborative   partners and the seniors themselves will all help you focus on programming that will resonate with your marketplace - both participants and possible funders.

The responses in the Interviews are universally pro and supportive.  Every one of the organizations reported the benefits of engaging this kind of programming to be overwhelmingly positive.  And they all reported the workload wasn't that onerous.  ALL of them intend to continue this kind of senior-oriented creative programming into the future.  That is an important testimonial.

So, I urge you to get your organization on the bandwagon.  You have a great deal to gain by not waiting, but acting soon.

Here then are some resources available to you right now to help you in your efforts to join the creative aging movement, help both your organization and the entire field, and build increased positive relationships with seniors in your area.

There are scores of links to articles, books, research, reports, studies and tool kits within each of these easy to navigate sites.

Aroha Philanthropies Videos

Aroha Philanthropies Resources

Lifetime Arts

National Endowment for the Arts

National Guild for Community Arts Education

Grantmakers in Aging


Aroha Philanthropies’ Final Evaluation Report on their Seeding Vitality Arts program, by Touchstone Center for Collaborative Inquiry, will be released shortly, and I will blog on it when it is.

In the meantime, I hope many of you will see the value, benefits and wisdom for your organization to embark on a serious inquiry into launching a Creative Aging program in the near future.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Newark Museum Interview

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

Note:  This is the final interview in a series with Aroha Philanthropies Vitality Arts grantees delving into their launch, management and continuation of creative aging programs for seniors.  A wrap up, including resources, will post next week.  

The Newark Museum "operates, as it has since its founding, in the public trust as a museum of service, and a leader in connecting objects and ideas to the needs and wishes of its constituencies.  We believe that our art and science collections have the power to educate, inspire and transform individuals of all ages, and the local, regional, national and international communities that we serve.

  In the words of founding Director John Cotton Dana:  "A good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, 
leads to questioning—and thus promotes learning."

Project Description:  

Contemporary Book Arts:
Explore a sampling of printing and book-making methods during 8 four-hour sessions: monoprinting, basic intaglio and relief printing and binding practices.

Create your own small suite of personalized books, both blank and content-filed. View contemporary and historical artist books and printed ephemera; learn through demonstration, hands-on making and experimentation.
Beginners welcome!

Mixed Media Sculpture:
During eight 2-hour sessions, learn to construct your own creative sculptures from repurposed objects, inspired by works on view at the Newark Museum. Manipulate and transform found and commonplace materials like discarded textiles, plastics, paper, wire, wood, beads and small household objects into art works, using two and three dimensional assemblage and construction techniques.


Barry:  What made you want to pursue a vitality arts program for seniors?  Had your organization had previous experience with crafting programs specifically designed to appeal to seniors?

Newark Museum: Newark Museum has recently been working to rebuild ongoing hands-on adult workshops and courses. Beginning in 1930, the Newark Museum’s Arts Workshops provided opportunities for our local population to engage in the Museum’s collections through artmaking programs. After eighty-eight years of continuous programs, the Arts Workshop programs were ended due to declining attendance and funding. Many of the participants in these programs were retirees (seniors) and have made it clear that there is strong interest in reviving the programs.

Barry:  Your project encompassed two separate opportunities for seniors: 1) book making, and 2) mixed media sculpture.  How did you settle on these two art forms, and why?

Newark Museum:  The subject of the courses was determined using suggestions from participants of previous programs, and by surveying the Museum’s docents (mostly seniors). Additionally, the Museum’s exhibition schedule influenced the decision. The mixed media sculpture course was directly connected to a recent commission of figure by a contemporary Native American artist, Jeffrey Gibson.

Barry:  In creating a budget for the project, what line items were included?  Were there expenses that were unanticipated?  Did you leverage additional funding from other sources?  What sources, and how difficult was raising the additional funding?

Newark Museum:  The budget included lines for Teaching Artist fees, Program Supplies, Marketing, Administration time, Part-time educator assistance, travel expenses, and catering for the reception. All budget lines were spent as anticipated except for travel expenses. Before the program began we thought we would spend more on bussing participants to the Museum and less on providing parking at the Museum.

Barry:  Did you accurately identify the workload and time involved that management of the project ended up taking, and can you describe that workload and the time involved.  How did you develop your team to oversee the project?  What roles did you include - teaching artist, project manager, marketing, evaluation, et. al. ?

Newark Museum:  The overall workload and time spent facilitating the four Vitality Arts programs in 2018 was generally as expected. The team consisted of the Teaching Artists, Project Administrator, Project Manager, and the Museum’s Marketing staff. After the spring courses, the Project Administrator left the Museum and her responsibilities were added to those of the Project Manager. The aspect of this project that was underestimated (or not presented clearly) was the reporting process. More time than expected has been spent on reporting the project. 

Barry:  The Aroha projects mandated inclusion of teaching artists to conduct the training for the senior participants.  How did you go about recruiting those teaching artists?  What was involved in their training and involvement for this project that you didn’t anticipate at the outset?  Were there benefits to the teaching artists involvement that came as a bonus?

Newark Museum:  The Newark Museum relies on the expertise of teaching artists for all our hands-on courses and workshops. The teaching artists for the Vitality Arts courses were found within the expansive network the Museum has cultivated over the years. The teaching artists used time before the courses to study the Museum’s collections and develop a curriculum that would support social interaction between students while creating opportunities for greater understanding and deeper appreciation for the Museum’s objects. 

Barry:  Did the project involve any collaborative efforts and / or partnerships with other organizations within the community, such as with universities, senior centers, care facilities or otherwise?  How did those come about and how did they work?  How critical were those to the success of the project?

Newark Museum:  Most of the Mixed Media sculpture course participants were involved with the course through a partnership with a local senior center. The senior center promoted the course to their audience and served as a pick up and drop off point for a hired bus company. This partnership helped to ensure access to the programs for people without transportation and help to provide experiences that the senior center is otherwise unable to provide.

The Contemporary Book Arts class utilized the Museum branch of the Newark Public Library system to further their study. During one of the sessions the participants met with the Museum’s Librarian, William Peniston, to view rare books and various types of binding techniques.

Barry:  Who did you target as participants in the project?  Was recruiting senior participants easy or difficult?  How did you deal with issues such as non-native speaker participants, diversity recruitment, dealing with disability and / or transportation issues of the senior participants etc.

Newark Museum:  For each Vitality Arts course the Museum creates an Eventbrite page which is embedded into the Courses & Workshops page of the Museum’s website. The link for this page is then added to digital member newsletters and shared on social media platforms. For the Contemporary Books Arts course, this marketing strategy was able to sell out the course. For the Mixed Media Sculpture course, only a few people registered using Eventbrite. To recruit more participants, the Museum collaborated with a local senior center to offer the course to their audience. The transportation costs for the senior center collaboration we predicted and were covered by grant funding. 

Barry:  What kinds of marketing did you employ in recruiting senior participants?

Newark Museum:  Eventbrite registration, email, targeted social media, printed cards and member mailings

Barry:  What criteria did you use to determine if the project succeeded from the organization’s point of view?  How did you evaluate the project during its course, and post completion?

Newark Museum:  The main criteria for the success of the course was the commitment of the participants. Weekly attendance was used to determine the level of commitment. Course participants also completed a pre-program survey and a post-program survey that evaluated interest and engagement using Likert scale assessments. In addition, the teaching artists completed a weekly program log that tracked progress during the course, and included successes and challenges in facilitation and individual participant’s progress.

Barry:  What lessons did you learn from your experience with the project in the provision of services to seniors in the creative aging arena?  How will you apply what you’ve learned to the sustainability of offering this, or new and additional projects to the senior community in the future?

Newark Museum:  Facilitating programs for a senior audience has unique challenges that influence the format and delivery of our courses. The Vitality Arts program consisted of one session per week over 8 weeks. This commitment of time was challenging for participants. Although many were retired, some worked part-time and had variable schedules. Some participants could not predict more than a week forward if they would be scheduled to work and if they would be able attend the next session of the course. Others had personal and familial commitments that prevented them from attending all sessions. When considering our future programs for seniors, a shorter time commitment may benefit both the facilitation of the course but also the rate of participation. 

Barry:  When you conceived the project, what obstacles and barriers did you identify, and was the reality of designing, then implementing, the project pretty much as expected, or were there elements that surprised you?

Newark Museum:  During the initial planning of the courses, transportation to and from the Museum was identified to be an obstacle for seniors from Newark that may not drive and may rely on public transportation. To address this obstacle, the Museum partnered with a local senior center which acted as a gathering point transportation to the Museum. 

Barry:  What were the overall pros and cons, logistically and otherwise, in designing, creating, and implementing the project?  What benefits were there to the organization - e.g., new volunteers, new support, new audience members, greater community involvement, media coverage, expanded organization image within the community etc.?

Newark Museum:  By offering two courses each spring and fall over the past two years, the Museum has dramatically grown its audience for hands-on multi-session courses. Out of all the course participants surveyed, most are very interested in participating in future offerings.

Barry:  Would you recommend that other arts organizations consider creating and launching their own creative aging vitality arts programs? Why or why not?  What are the major considerations arts organizations ought to consider before embarking on the launch of their own programs?  What are the specific considerations in your experience that museums ought to consider in planning a creative aging vitality program?

Newark Museum:  Yes, it is our recommendation that other arts organizations create their own Vitality Arts programs. These programs allow organizations to connect with an audience that is traditionally neglected in educational efforts. Working with seniors also fosters social and cultural engagement and offers opportunities for seniors to be active in the community, while using their own life experiences to create objects with meaning.

One consideration to highlight when planning a senior program is to allow more time for conversation and discussion as well as more time for project-based aspects of the program. Both limitations in mobility and the general eagerness to share experiences and perspectives requires additional time in class.

Barry:  Do you intend to continue to offer these kinds of program to the senior community?  Why or why not?

Newark Museum:  Yes. The Museum’s mission is to serve the local population.

Participant Observations:

1.  Geraldine Code - 
Single, 65 year old, former teacher, living in East Orange, New Jersey interested in ink art, fiber arts double dutch, working now part time teaching arts and crafts at the Boys and Girls Club.

She volunteered that she decided to participate in the creative aging vitality arts program to explore other areas of art less familiar to her.

In rating the program she said:
"The project met my expectations  I wish that it was longer.  i had fun exploring and discussing the collections and exhibits in the museum." 

Will you continue to pursue the art form that you learned in the program?      Yes 

What advice would you give to other people who might be thinking of participating in this kind of program?
"I would tell them to absolutely sign up and explore their creative side."

2.  Jean Goldstein - a married, 72 year old, former Counselor at a community college, living in West Orange, New Jersey interested in Reading, mah jongg, knitting, tennis, and art.

In your own words, please Rate and Review your involvement in the project:
Did it meet - or exceed - your expectations?  What were the benefits of participation?
"It was a fun experience. I enjoyed the teachers and other students, as well as learning about art or craft forms I had little or no knowledge about. I also liked being a part of a program at the Newark Museum"

As a result of the program, have you decided to become involved with the sponsoring organization in other ways - say as a volunteer, or audience member, or financial supporter or?
"I’ve considered volunteering at the museum but haven’t made the commitment to reach out and do so."

What advice can you give to the sponsoring organization to make the program better?
"Allow more time to complete projects; provide reduced parking at the museum for participants. Loved the receptions at the end of the courses for participants and our families."

What advice would you give to other people who might be thinking of participating in this kind of program?
"Do it!"

3.  Betsy Vinegrad - a married,  61year old, former fashion industry tech designer, from Short Hills, New Jersey interested in sewing, quilting, knitting and attending art or craft shows and exhibits. Going to the theater.

Why did you decide to participate in the creative aging vitality arts program?
"I saw the Fashion the Future: Wearable Technology class posted on Facebook. It looked like a great way to sample using some of the resources in the Maker Space."

In your own words, please Rate and Review your involvement in the project.
Did it meet - or exceed - your expectations?  What were the benefits of participation?
"I took 2 classes: Fashion the Future: Wearable Technology and Contemporary Book Arts. Both exceeded my expectations. Although I have a lot of experience in fashion, I still learned a lot. I had no experience in book arts and did not feel intimidated by my lack of knowledge. This is a credit to the teachers and the organizers." 

"There were no negatives. I was pleasantly surprised that the programs were tailored to allow those with no experience to learn and still keep those with experience engaged."  

Will you continue to pursue the art form that you learned in the program?
"Yes. I would like to see shorter term workshops with deeper focus on parts of the series classes. For example, there could be workshops using the 3D printers or, one day doing mono printing."

4.  Elizabeth Wall - a  divorced, 70 year old former telecommunications consultant from Irvington, New Jersey interested in gemstone and silver jewelry creation, sewing, sketching/painting, vegetable and flower gardening, reading. 

"I have been on at least six day trips with the Newark Museum and the Environmental Center in Roseland NJ. I’m currently enrolled in the Rutgers Master Gardeners Course (three hour weekly class) which started September 2018 and concludes May 2019. Participating in this class has availed me of many opportunities to volunteer in Essex county: pruning trees at Brookdale Park, working at Branch Brook Park’s Concourse Hill area with other volunteers to clean up the area. Preparing (digging up) Canna plants for winter storage at Turtleback Zoo."

Why did you decide to participate in the creative aging vitality arts program?
 "I am  interested in the arts and related programs."

Had you participated in any arts program like this before?
"The year before I participated in the 3d Jewelry Making program"

"I was surprised at the work that I produced in the class last year (painting). Having had no formal lessons in this subject, I had no idea that in such a short time I could accomplish so much."  

What advice would you give to other people who might be thinking of participating in this kind of program?
"Choose your class and sign up for a life changing experience that you can continue with after class ends."

5.  Brigitte Wofford - 56 year old, married, teacher, interested in nature and wildlife, arts, reading, learning languages, exercise...

Why did you decide to participate in the creative aging vitality arts program?
"I liked the idea of combining making a piece of jewelry with learning 3D printing. I would have loved to take the other classes too, but I live far and I still work."

 "I really enjoyed the class. I got to meet people I would not have met otherwise, while learning in a fun environment."

What advice would you give to other people who might be thinking of participating in this kind of program? "
I would recommend it wholeheartedly." 

Thanks to Ryan Reedell at the Newark Museum for his help with the interview.

Have a great week end.

Don't Quit