October 6, 2020
One of the surest (and fastest) ways understand exactly what creative aging programming is all about is to review short cases highlighting exemplary programs offered by organizations that serve older adults.
Lifetime Arts is proud to share this first series of brief case studies, developed expressly for The Creative Aging Resource, featuring the distinguished work some of our partners and colleagues across the United States. These cases have been vetted by the organizations and institutions they feature.
Annie Montgomery, Julie Kline, Nathan Majoros, and David Woehr of Lifetime Arts discuss with host Joe McCarthy the ways in which profiled organizations met challenges with innovative solutions and built towards sustainability.
Browse Exemplary Programs Across Sectors:
Arts Organizations & Community Educators
Dances for a Variable Population (NY)
Minnesota Opera (MN)
Rumriver Art Center (MN)
School One (RI)
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (MA)
The Louisiana Museum Foundation (LA)
MOCA Tucson (AZ)
Public Library Systems
Brooklyn Public Library (NY)
Johnson City Public Library (TN)
Peru Free Library (NY)
Case Development Process, Insights, and Themes
Developing a case study taxonomy
One of the first challenges we faced when developing this series was creating a taxonomy that would complement and align with the others we are using to classify and tag resources site wide. “We scheduled several meetings to shape the categories, and agreed on the lanes of focus. Once we started writing the narratives, we refined the categories even further,” said Annie Montgomery, Lifetime Arts’ Director of Education who led the process.
From Challenges to Solutions, and Ultimately, Insights
The most focusing aspect of the project came out of the “Challenges” and “Solutions” content. Montgomery said, “Once we created a list of common challenges, the organizational stories came to the surface quickly.” Education Associate, Julie Kline, added, “The challenges the organizations faced only spurred them to be more creative with their programming, and more expansive in their reach to the older adults in their community. The Challenges/Solutions approach acknowledges that there will always be challenges when creating new programs; it’s really a question of how you approach the challenges that arise.”
Partnerships Help Resolve Challenges and Expand Impact
Partnerships emerged as one of the common solutions threading its way through several of these cases.
Johnson City Public Library (JCPL) solved their space issues by connecting with not one but several key community partners. “The Fullness of Time: Exploring the Arts and the Gifts of Aging at Johnson City Public Library,” describes how the library system tapped several community partners including: East Tennessee State University (ETSU); the University’s fine arts galleries; the International Storytelling Center; and the Blue Moon Theatre.
Connections between JCPL and ETSU’s faculty, some of whom were highly-qualified teaching artists, cut down significantly on costs and inefficiencies. ETSU’s design faculty also designed an ADDY award-winning campaign for the program.
Integrating Creative Aging into Mission
Working on a different, much larger scale, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) developed solutions that worked their creative aging programming into their overall mission. Both Kline and Montgomery were particularly enthusiastic about how LACMA’s journey translated into a case study. “I think LACMA is very interesting as they went through the intensive process of creating a ‘Theory of Change and Logic Model,’” said Montgomery. “This process was integral to building a solid infrastructure for sustainability and positioning within the museum’s mission.”
All of these cases show that even in the best of circumstances (and pre-COVID-19), adjustments will likely need to be made and flexibility is paramount in executing an organization’s programming.
We hope that these and other cases featured in the Creative Aging Resource will provide a roadmap for others considering bringing creative aging programming to their communities.
Want to Share Your Own Creative Aging Work with the Field?
Please use the Submission form to submit information about your own creative aging work. Thank you.