Guild Helps Arts Groups Start New Senior Programs

Connexeo - 08/29/2018

It’s been well-documented that senior citizens benefit from lifelong education, no matter what the topic. The National Guild for Community Arts Education, in conjunction with Lifetime Arts, has taken that to heart with its Catalyzing Creative Aging program.

This multi-phase initiative was designed to “support the establishment of new creative aging programs at nonprofit arts education organizations nationwide,” according to the National Guild’s website. Grants, training and technical assistance are offered to the organizations that make it through the application process and continue on through the program.

Qualify for the Grant

To qualify for Catalyzing Creative Aging, a non-profit arts organization must be a Guild member with an operating budget of at least $150,000 and have a demonstrated interest in establishing new programs to increase seniors’ social engagement and artistic knowledge and skill. The programs are to be brand new, not enhancements of existing programs, nor are they to be therapeutic programs for those with dementia.

Ten arts organizations nationwide were chosen for 2017-18 grants and will develop and implement these programs through December.

The 10 2017-18 recipients are:

  • Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, Bronx, NY: An Afro-Puerto Rican artist will provide 12 Bomba workshops to 15 older adults. Each workshop will include drum meditation, interactive storytelling, song-listening exercises and explanations of Bomba rhythm, dance and language.
  • The Music Settlement, Cleveland, OH: The Settlement Singers Active Adult Choir will feature up to 40 senior vocalists who practice breathing and vocal techniques, learn to read rhythms and pitch patterns and memorize text and music. And, they will perform.
  • Community Music School, Springfield, MA: The Community Chorus program will comprise groups of 10-12 older adults at three senior-housing facilities throughout the city. Each separate program will start out with warmups and simple rounds and graduate to folk, contemporary, jazz and Broadway tunes. Performances will take place at each facility.
  • Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA: The “Ceramics: Stories for the Ages” initiative is a joint effort between Fleisher and Puentes de Salud. Some 15 seniors from South Philly’s immigrant Latino communities will participate in a 12-week workshop in ceramics and hand-building, working in clay and, finally, exhibiting their work.
  • Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ: Fifteen older adults will learn foundational drawing skills in a 12-week program inspired by the museum’s Masayuki Koorida: Sculpture exhibition. Participants will work with graphite, charcoal, ink and black-and-white watercolor washes.
  • Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Pasadena, CA: “Ukulele Jam: The Great American Songbook” will teach 10 seniors ages 55 and older how to play the ukulele. Participants will learn the instrument’s history and how to accompany vocalists on songs from musical theater and other genres. The program ends with a recital.
  • Pullen Arts Center, Raleigh, NC: In partnership with parks and cultural resources centers in each quadrant of Raleigh, groups of 10-16 seniors will learn portraiture techniques, using drawing painting, collage and mixed media. Participants will create a self-portrait to be displayed at an exhibition.
  • Rocky Ridge Music Center, Denver, CO: Another ukulele program, this one featuring 10 residents of the Balfour-Riverfront Park senior residence in Denver. Participants will learn how to play and sing during the 12-week course, with the goal of being able to perform both as solo acts and in ensembles.
  • West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, Grand Rapids, MI\: About 10-12 residents of the Samaritas senior-living community will participate in 12 sessions over six weeks to learn the Japanese resist dyeing method of shibori – binding, stitching, folding, tying and twisting fabric while dyeing it. The program ends with a fashion show.
  • The Wharton Institute for Performing Arts, Berkeley Heights, NJ: Up to 60 senior participants will choose the musical themes for this choral program, which features an inter-generational element: The senior chorus will culminate the program by singing four to six songs with the New Jersey Youth Symphony Chorus.  

Future Program Selections:

Meanwhile, the next set of programs is just getting started. The Guild is in the process of selecting 20 programs to participate in the 2018-19 edition. The true beginning of that program will come on Nov. 14-16, when all 10 groups will participate in the Catalyzing Creative Aging Institute, which includes workshops and one-on-one coaching.

In January, the organizations will complete a survey concerning their development of a technical assistance plan, and the period from February-June will feature Lifetime Arts providing customized technical assistance to each program participant.

Then comes the financial part. RFPs for seed grants open in April and must be submitted by May. The grants are announced in June, and the period from July-December is the time to implement programs and receive continued technical assistance.


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