VIEW LECTURE (4:37 min.)
Hi everyone, my name is Vinny, and I’m a Lifetime Arts Trainer. I’ve taught creative aging workshops in theatre and improvisation throughout the New York City region. Today, I’m happy to talk with you about “What is Creative Aging?”
Arts Education for Older Adults (0:17)
Creative aging is a large field that encompasses several kinds of arts programming for older adults. However, in this course, we will use the term creative aging in reference to Lifetime Arts’ focus in the creative aging field.
We define creative aging as: professionally-led instructional arts programs that build skills over time across all arts disciplines. In short, its arts education for older adults.
In the model for which we advocate, there are at least 8 sequential sessions of at least 90 minutes each concluding with a culminating event, and we will cover the specifics and details of this in later lessons.
Creative aging is not just a concept, but also an emerging field in which a variety of organizations are providing meaningful opportunities for creative expression through visual, literary, music, and performing arts programming.
These activities are based on scientific research, and they emphasize the factors crucial for positive aging, learning skills, and building social connections.
Passive Entertainment vs. Active Engagement (1:17)
It’s not passive entertainment. While activities like sing-alongs or doing simple short arts and crafts activities can be fun and entertaining, the creative aging learning goals go well beyond what can be experienced in a drop-in art-making workshop. Though the results of participation may be therapeutic, the goal is instructional. Participants build skills over time in a socially supportive environment. It is very active engagement.
Just as you can see from this image [above], people are fully participating and engaging with focus and commitment and connecting socially with one another.
Differentiating Between Arts Therapy + Arts Education (1:53)
Creative aging is a field that encompasses many areas of practice. As mentioned before, Lifetime Arts focuses on creative aging arts education for older adults, where the goals are instructional and the programming is sequential. Sequential programming means that:
- Skills are learned over time, and
- Each skill builds upon the other.
However, often when people hear the term “creative aging,” they might think about the robust therapeutic arts programs that exist across the country. There’s tremendous work happening in this area of creative aging, but it is important to recognize and understand the distinctions between arts education and arts therapies.
This course will be focused on the planning, preparation, and implementation of creative aging arts education programs.
Therapeutic programs include the arts therapies like dance, music, and visual arts, and many Alzheimer’s and dementia programs fall under this category. Much of this work happens in medical settings, but there are a lot of cultural organizations that are engaging in this work.
Many cultural organizations are designing programs for older adults with dementia and their caregivers. For example, Lincoln Center has a program called Lincoln Center Moments that is a performance-based program designed for people with dementia and their caregivers. Meet Me at MoMA engages families and companions in visual arts appreciation.
The goal of creative aging arts education programs is different than therapeutic programs. Arts education goals are student-centered, include sequential sessions and active participation, focus on skill-building, and are built on a scaffolded curriculum. Sometimes the results may be emotionally, socially, and physically beneficial to the participants, but the goals remain instructional.
Here are just a few examples of arts, education, and therapeutic programs that are currently available to older adults across the country:
|THERAPEUTIC PROGRAMS||ARTS EDUCATION PROGRAMS|
|Music & Memory||Dances for a Variable Population|
|Prime Time (MoMA)||Young@Heart Chorus|
|Meet Me (MoMA)||Alive & Kickin’|
|Lincoln Center Moments||ENCORE: Creativity for Older Adults|
This is not a comprehensive list, and you can find more resources on our website, in this course, and also on our Creative Aging Resource (website).
These pictures (below) are from some of the programming Lifetime Arts has supported in the past in senior centers, libraries, community centers, and cultural institutions.
Lifetime Arts programs are professionally-led, sequential programs that are participatory and skills-based. Participants describe the importance of the vital social connections they made in these programs, and how their confidence in the ability to artistically express themselves was reawakened.
Most exciting is that creative aging work applies to all the arts disciplines, painting, dancing, quilting, literary arts, like memoir and poetry, theater, choir, songwriting, and musical instruments. The list goes on and on.
A Quick Comparison of the Two Program Models
View the two short videos below to see how these two program models work in practice.
View an Arts Education Model Example (03:54 min.)
View a Therapeutic Program Model Example (4:20 min.)
Each section of Creative Aging Foundations features worksheets for your own use when planning creative aging programming and writing grants for program funding. A complete set of Creative Aging Foundations worksheets will provide you with a shortcut to an organizational strategy to better serve older adults through anti-ageist approaches, best practices, and key insights on program funding and sustainability.