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Budget Considerations

VIEW LECTURE (4:01 min.)
Access transcript via the “CC” button on the player, or follow the enhanced transcript of this video below.


Annie Montgomery: I’m Annie Montgomery, Director of Education at Lifetime Arts.

For creative aging programs, direct costs typically include teaching artist fees and materials or art supplies, with some other outlying considerations. Other things to keep in mind would be taking into account the overhead required to coordinate, manage and house the programs, as well as considering other potential income or funding sources.

Direct Costs (0:34)

Looking closer at the direct cost, minimally it includes paying the instructor and perhaps some materials. For teaching artist, they are paid for their time instructing, planning and preparing for the program, and also for their time spent at the culminating event. Material supplies can include a wide range of items depending on the artform or format of the class.

These programs are not cookie-cutter, so there should always be room in your budgets to include some additional expenses outside of these two items. For instance, hiring a live model for a visual arts class, transportation costs, or if these are virtual programs, it may include postage to ship materials, or a subscription to a video conferencing platform.

Sample Teaching Artist Fees (1:26)

Culminating Event$75/hr2$150
Total Teaching Artist Fees$1,670

Here is a sample breakdown of teaching artist fees for an in-person, 8-week, 2-hour creative aging program, which includes a culminating event. Teaching artist fees will vary widely depending on the region and the individual teaching artist, so talk with the teaching artist to determine their rates or consult with your regional arts councils. On average, teaching artists are paid seventy 5 dollars an hour for their time facilitating the actual workshop series.

In addition, teaching artists are paid for their time spent planning the program and also preparing for the sessions. The planning prep rate can be calculated at a different rate. We generally think it’s about half of the instruction rate. For this sample, we’ve allocated one hour of planning prep time for each workshop session to arrive at a total of 8 hours. Lastly, a teaching artist should be paid for their time at the culminating event, which is the same rate as the instruction rate.

Budgeting for Materials and Supplies (2:28)

A teaching artist prepares materials during a painting program at Pullen Arts Center in Raleigh, NC. Credit: Teresa Moore

When it comes to the materials list, the teaching artists should be able to provide you with a list of whatever is needed. They will have experience in what materials work well, and possible vendors. In addition, we recommend that the materials that are being used are student grade or professional grade materials when appropriate.

Overhead (2:49)

Every successful program will require a team of people to coordinate and manage the program, so staff time will need to be dedicated to the program. Similarly, programs will utilize space and or equipment, so keep in mind what those indirect costs are.

In-kind Contributions + Income (3:09)

Next, if you are contributing goods or services in-kind to the program, you should keep track of what those contributions are. Do you have tools or resources that you already own that could be used toward the program? You may also be able to charge for these programs. So consider what would be an appropriate fee to charge for registration or materials. Or are you able to raise cash donations towards the program?

Sample Program Budget (3:38)

Visual ArtsLiterary ArtsPerforming Arts
Teaching Artist Fees$1,800$2,000$2,400
Program Expenses$1,350$400$100
Total Expenses$3,150$2,400$2,500
Total Allocation$3,000$2,400$2,500

Here is a sample of possible budgets for 3 different artistic disciplines. You can see that certain art disciplines are more material reliance, such as visual arts programs. For example, you may need more supplies for a painting program than you would for writing program.

Reflection Worksheet + Topic Resources

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.

Download the worksheet for this topic:
Access the selected sample survey documents for this topic:

Working with Teaching Artists

Preparing for Your Program

VIEW LECTURE (4:25 min.)
Access transcript via the “CC” button on the player, or follow the enhanced transcript of this video below.


Jade Lam: Hello, my name is Jade Lam. I’m a visual arts teaching artist and a creative aging trainer for Lifetime Arts.

While it may seem overwhelming at first, making clear plans for your program will help you to identify all your key players and collaborators. Remember that a successful program will be the effort of a team of people and that one person won’t be able to carry all the responsibility themselves. A clear and concise plan of action will go a long way towards keeping you and your team on the right track as you head towards your first day of programming.

Building Your Team (0:40)

Photo by Mapbox on Unsplash

Your team may be individuals from your own organization or partners from other organizations or businesses. Keep in mind the needs of your program and who can best fill those needs. Your key players will include people familiar with your community who can assist you with serving community members and reaching out to partner organizations.

Your team will also include a teaching artist who will help you to plan your curriculum designed to sequential programming and work with you to plan your culminating event. Of equal importance are team members who will see to financial support and help create and manage your budgets, deal with expenses and think through how to seed your program for the future.

Roles + Responsibilities (1:26)

Once you’ve assembled a team, you want to delegate those roles and responsibilities of each member. These rules will cover everything from creating community surveys to find out what your participants are interested in learning, all the way to evaluating your program after it is completed so you can plan your next step forward.

Depending on the size of your team, there may be some overlap in responsibilities. Regardless, it’s a good idea to map out team responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition from planning to implementation.

Project Timeline (2:02)

While building your team, you will also want to create an overall timeline for your program. Your timeline should cover your pre-planning time, implementation and post-program deadlines. Make sure to give yourself enough time for planning so that you have ample time to adjust your program as needed.

For example, if you survey your community and discover that they are really interested in a dance class, do you have a space to host this class? Do you have any teaching artist you’re aware of who can plan and teach a dance program? Make sure you budget time to find and hire your teaching artist. This planning period may also include building partnerships and securing all the necessary space and materials needed to implement your program.

Culminating Events (2:56)

A collage of culminating events for programs that were held at Newtown Italian Neighborhood Senior Center in Queens, NY (top left) Credit: Jeremy Amar; Pasadena Conservatory of Music in Pasadena, CA (top right) Credit: Matthew Bookman; and Minnesota Opera in Minnesota, MN (bottom). Credit: Minnesota Opera

Of course, don’t forget about your culminating event. Will the culminating event took place during normal class hours? If it is an ongoing exhibit, how long will it stay up? And when will people be able to visit the show? While some details of the culminating event may not be finalized until later on in your timeline, it’s important to start planning for it early in your process.

Proposing Your Program (3:24)

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, your timeline and the resources you need to offer your program, you want to propose your program plans to organizational leadership. This might also include members of a board or community leaders. You will need to demonstrate the importance of creative aging and how your program will benefit the community-at-large.

Leadership can act as another member of your team by either helping to secure funds for your program or advocating on your behalf to other organizations and businesses who can support your work and build community understanding for your program. This support can lead to sustainability by generating continued funding, further access to other senior-serving organizations and expansion of your program to other members of the community who have yet to reach.

Reflection Worksheet + Topic Resources

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.

Download the worksheet for this topic:
Access the selected resources for this topic:

Partnering With New Communities That Serve Older Adults

One of the keys to success for any creative aging program is leveraging partnerships. Whether partnering with an individual, an organization that can help to deliver your program, or through fiscal support, these relationships will serve you in creating a sustainable program.

There are many different ways to utilize partnerships for your programs and we’ll take a look at a few examples. Your partners are your collaborators; they should share the same goals for your program and can provide valuable feedback on ways to embed sustainability into your work from the beginning. As you identify new potential partners in your community, make sure you understand the assets you already have so you can approach these new relationships with a clear understanding of what you need. 

In this section, we will suggest ways to establish new partnerships and to foster these relationships throughout your program implementation.

VIEW VIDEO: (7:32 min.)


Asma Feyijinmi: Hello, my name is Asma Feyijinmi. I am a performing arts teaching artist and creative aging trainer for Lifetime Arts.

In creative aging programs, you are generally working in partner sites and with new communities. These sites may be a senior center, a retirement community, an assisted living facility, or other kind of community organization.

A culminating event at India Home in New York City. Credit: India Home

It’s important to understand both the community you are serving as well as the organization you’ll be partnering with. Researching the organization and talking with your partners will help you understand how to prepare your program to fit the new community.

Aging in Place (0:57)

Aging in place means that the older adults will keep living in their current home and receive care or assistance at home if needed. This includes folks that may live in age, restricted communities, or naturally occurring retirement communities, also known as NORCs.

Something also to consider is that caregivers themselves are often older adults and may be looking for programs that support both the person they are caregiving for at home and for themselves. Designing programs where both family members can participate could really serve this community.

Senior Living (1:40)

Other kinds of seniors communities include assisted living, a senior living option that combines apartment-style housing, organized social interaction, and support and health services. Some residents may have memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s, or they may need help with mobility or other challenges. 

Skilled nursing facilities, sometimes known as nursing homes, serve as licensed health care residences for individuals who require a higher level of medical care that can be provided in an assisted living facility. Continuous care retirement communities are a combination of independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes.

You may also have heard of adult day centers. They support people that live at home, but their focus is to provide functionally-impaired adults  —  those who need help with everyday tasks  —  with an array of services and a protective setting for any part of the day, but for less than a 24-hour period. They also provide respite to caregivers who need some time to rest and take care of themselves.

Non-Residential (3:04)

And finally, senior centers are non-residential community centers that specifically serve older adults. They often offer a free or low-cost lunch and breakfast to seniors who sign up as members. Along with arts programming, many centers offer a wide range of programs, including fitness and technology classes.

Best Practices in Partnering With New Communities (3:33)

A photo of a quilt created by a creative aging program participant at the Hartford Public Library in Connecticut.
A quilt created by a creative aging program participant at the Hartford Public Library in Connecticut.

It’s important to understand your goals for the creative aging program you wish to implement and do research on the senior serving organization you wish to partner with.

Here are a few suggestions for ways to start, which come from “Doing Multicultural Education for Achievement and Equity” by Carl Grant and Christine Sleeter.

  • Be clear about what you want. Why do you want to work with this community? What do you have in common? And what might be some differences?
  • Do your homework and be flexible.  Identify and contact key respondents, who are people who have special knowledge of the organizations and community they serve. They can help facilitate your partnership.
  • Do some research on the cultural makeup of this community. Keep in mind cultural differences and ask yourself if you’re the right person or the right organizational partner to lead this potential creative aging program. If not, is there someone else on your team or another organization that might be a better and more organic fit? 
  • Prepare questions and schedule a visit with the community or organizational leaders. This can include a site visit to learn about what kinds of programs might best fit at this site. At your visit, explain what your creative program could be like and start to discuss if this is the kind of program that might be a good fit in this community, or what kind of program they may need. Their input is key to building a potential partnership.
  • It can also help to come prepared to your first meetings with example curriculum and class descriptions. If a community is new to sequential programming, be ready to discuss the benefits of sequential classes and the goals of the program.

Working With Organizations That Serve Older Adults (5:43)

Assessing with your partner if the program is the right fit for their community is key to the success of the program and partnership. If they need a more therapeutic approach or can only support drop-in programming, then discuss with them if a creative aging arts education program is the right fit. It may not be, and that is okay! If it seems like this type of program will benefit their community, then begin to identify staff who can help you with recruitment and program implementation.

It is important that planning is done with leadership of the organization as well as all the staff that will be involved in the program. You want to make sure everyone is included in the planning for the partnership to succeed. To build buy-in, you might offer program demos before the first official class. This can help with recruiting interested participants and drum up excitement about your program. 

Collaborating With Other Programming Organizations (6:52)

Senior centers and assisted living communities are not the only kinds of partners that serve older adults. There are many other community organizations that provide programming for older adults that may be interested in partnering. Whoever you collaborate with, ask questions and get to know the members of that community first. This will ensure your program will be well supported and successful.

Best Practices in Responsive Programming for Teaching Artists

It has been said that “Older adults vote with their feet.” Unlike a younger students who may be required to be present in an educational setting, older adults will only take a class that truly interests them, and they won’t stay in it if it doesn’t meet their expectations.

Creative aging programs need to respond to expressed interests. The only way to know what an older adult would like to learn about is to go straight to the source.

Every single older adult will have a different point-of-view on the arts classes into which they will invest their time and their energy. So, whether designing a class for in-person meetings, or offering a remote option — it is of paramount importance that you seek out and connect to the older adult learners that you are hoping to serve.

Ask them: What do you want to learn? There are all sorts of factors that may influence their interests: the city they live in, the year they were born, the language they speak, whether they were born in this country or are from another country, their gender, their sexual preference, their religion, their socio-economic status. These are some of the many factors to consider and inquire about and it’s important to not make assumptions about what a community might be interested in.

Get to know your students and let them be part of the decision making process!

VIEW LECTURE (5:01 min.)


Rhynna Santos: Hello, my name is Rhynna M. Santos, and I’m a visual arts teaching artist and a creative aging trainer for Lifetime Arts. Teaching artists carry program content and ideas for a variety of ages and formats at their fingertips. In creative aging programing, each program should be sensitive to the culture and needs of the community it is serving. In order to design and provide responsive programming, you will need additional information.

Identifying Interests + Needs (0:34)

An image of older adult participants working on an art project at a table.
The teaching artist demonstrates technique during a creative aging program in New York City.

Ideally, your organizational partner will have surveyed the patrons and shared information with you so you can design a class to be responsive to the people you will be working with. During your initial site visit, you will have an additional opportunity to observe and meet participants and raise questions with the organizational leadership. If you are able, offering a one-off introductory workshop can assist you in uncovering additional interests and needs of the community, effective teaching approaches and assist you in discovering ways to enter the community.

What Teaching Artists Need to Consider (1:15)

Communities can vary widely, so you will need to consider the culture of each community you enter as you develop your program. You want to avoid forcing an agenda on a community and work with them to build a partnership that is organic and meets each of your goals. Here are some questions for you to consider as you prepare for an initial planning meeting: What is the community like? Gender(s), who is there? What is the building like that you are visiting? What are the space program needs, accessibility needs for you and the participants? What is the vibe like? Is it a quiet community? Active? Are there other programs happening there? If so, what kind and when? What is the neighborhood like? What languages are spoken within the community?

Cultural Awareness (2:16)

Before approaching program design, it’s important to keep the community that you were trying to reach in mind. A few questions to ask yourself at the very start of the process: Am I the right person to teach this particular class or for this particular community? For instance, teaching artists should speak the same language of the participants in the program. If the majority of the community speak Spanish, it is important that you speak Spanish. How might I adjust my curriculum to fit with this community’s interests and cultural background? To be sure, it is relevant to them. What artforms might be culturally appealing to the community? Ask them if you don’t know. What information would you need about your students to design your online or phone program? When working with adult learners, teaching artists should consider themselves in partnership with their students. In adult programming, this manifests in flexibility and responsiveness to student. You come with ideas, but are ready to make changes needed.

A female teaching artist accompanies her students singing on piano.
Teaching artist Dominique Gagné of The Little Orchestra Society, leads a musica class at DellaMonica-Steinway Senior Center in Queens, NY. Credit: Julia Xanthos-Liddy

For example, in a music class, you plan to teach with a focus on 40’s tunes, but once you get into the room, you realize the students are much more interested in the Beatles. You now adjust to their interests. Connect your program content to the participants’ lives. No matter which art form you teach, consider including references and examples that mirror the cultures of the community. For an example, in a visual arts class, an image survey should include work reflecting the participants’ interests and cultures.

Intangible Qualities (4:11)

A responsive, culturally aware teaching artist has intangible qualities and skills that support their work and teaching in creative aging. They are willing to go the extra mile from start to finish of the program to meet the interests and needs of their students. They problem solve and collaborate with each other to benefit students learning, skill building and social engagements. Enthusiasm for working with older adults results in their advocacy for the 55 and better community. They mentor confidence, skill, and self-worth through their teaching with humor, compassion, flexibility and patience in partnership with their students.

Intro to Responsive Programming

Creating an Artistic Culture

VIEW LECTURE (5:44 min)


Lynda Monick-Isenberg: Hello, this is Lynda Monick-Isenberg, Lifetime Arts Trainer. In this lesson you’ll learn about how to:

  • Bring arts more intentionally into your organization,
  • Make your organization welcoming to older adults,
  • Build your creative aging team, and
  • How to collaborate with your older adult community members to generate ideas.

Building a Team (0:26)

You know that you’d like to create a more robust arts community in your organization. We encourage you to seek out a team to assist you in these goals.

Think about how you can start to make a culture shift in your organization so the arts are more prominent and more available to the older adults you wish to serve.

Invite other staff to a meeting and talk about some of your ideas. Tell them why it’s important. For example, arts learning and programming is good for your organization. It’s good for the older adults, and it’s good for the wider community.

Be ready to articulate the impact this programming has on all the stakeholders. Be clear that this program does cost money when you’re ready to offer a full creative aging program, and this might be an initial barrier. So brainstorm with your team ideas that cost little to no money.

Think about ways your organization can begin to build interest in creative aging programming. Designate the priorities. What are the things you can do in the next six months to a year? What’s one thing you can do tomorrow?

It’s okay if the steps are small. It’s more important that the action steps are attainable. Delegate team roles for your creative aging action steps and set a timeline. Schedule recurring meetings with the staff that have been selected to be part of the creative aging planning team. It’s a good idea to set a meeting at least once a month to keep on track and to keep positive communication going.

Shifting the Culture (1:54)

Culture shifting may be one of the first priorities that your organization and that your creative aging planning team tackles.

One way to culture shift is to make the arts more visible in your organization. There are some simple changes you can make.

Create arts boards of upcoming community arts events that are free or discounted for older adults. This could be done as physical boards in your organization, or they could be ones that you create on your website, or both.

You may have artists in your local community: poets, visual artists, novelists, actors. Invite them to give a talk about their work. Many will do this for free, or you could charge a small fee and pay the artist a small honorarium.

Many of your members may want to share their own artwork.

  • Think about creating a gallery exhibition in a shared space. This could be on site or could be a virtual gallery.
  • Host performances. Student groups are always looking for places to perform.
A woman dances La Bomba in a traditional ruffled blue skirt.

Cultural Wellness Through Song, Drum, and Dance at Casita Maria Center for the Arts & Education, NYC. Credit: Casita Maria Center for the Arts & Education
  • Connect to schools and colleges and invite them to share a performance with your community.
  • Schedule social dancing events or artmaking parties.

All of these ideas are low cost, but they do start to signal to your community that the arts are valued at your organization. If you can connect the art events specifically to the older adults in your community, then they will also see that there is a welcoming place for them within your organization.

Include older adults themselves as contributors to envisioning your creative aging plans. Their involvement will be key to the success of future programs and will lead to the sustainability of creative aging programs.

Shortly after you have a creative aging planning team in place, talk to your patrons about some of their own ideas and solicit their help.

Form a Creative Aging Committee (3:43)

Your patrons or older adult constituents could form a creative aging committee. They can assist with the staff plans, but they may also have additional ideas to contribute. Their focus and attention to all the efforts may be the driving force behind your creative aging actions.

Enlist Volunteer Teachers (4:01)

If you can’t hire a teaching artist right away, perhaps there are older adults in your community who would be interested in teaching a class as a volunteer. You don’t need to charge a fee for the class. It can be very casual, and it doesn’t need to be sequential in the beginning. These first classes are a way to introduce the concepts of artmaking and learning new skills, and will start to build interest in the possibility of longer programs down the road.

Hold Focus Groups (4:27)

People are discussing a topic at a meeting.
A scene from a creative aging focus group session in New York City. Credit: Jeremy Amar

Hold some focus groups. What are your members interested in learning or participating in? Maybe they want to see more live performances together, or maybe they want to arrange more museum trips. Maybe they have ideas on how to raise money to hire a teaching artist. They can also help you assess what your community would pay for a full creative aging program and what is an appropriate fee to charge.

Survey Older Adults in Your Community (4:51)

Wide surveying of your patrons is a great idea to see what they are interested in. Surveying your older adults community on what their artistic interests are will engage them and signal them that your organization wants to include the arts as part of the fabric of your community culture. Questions could include:

  • Would you like to start a film viewing club?
  • Are you interested in a poetry group?
  • Would you be interested in a virtual museum discussion group?

Engagement around the arts can happen with very little cost to you or to the older adults you wish to serve. It takes a bit of willingness to find out how your older adults want to invest their time. Engaging them in the conversation may be the biggest recruitment tool you have for future creative aging programs.