The New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) works with more than 40 senior service organizations around Boston to welcome approximately 75 older adult learners onto their campus each week. When the pandemic initially hit, NEC knew they had to quickly adapt to a virtual world and maintain the connection between their older adult students, faculty, college students and community partners. Faculty and staff transitioned their one-on-one lessons to a virtual format and creating innovative and responsive virtual programs for large groups of senior participants.
Since March 2020, the San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC) has developed several new ways to adapt their Older Adult Choir Program (OACP), which serves nearly 400 older adults in senior centers throughout San Francisco, to a successful online learning platform. To keep their dynamic choir communities connected during COVID-19, the CMC worked with their senior center partners, where brick and mortar choirs take place, to create instructional videos on their YouTube Channel, which led to implementing sessions on Zoom.
For the past three years, Dane Stauffer has been teaching a storytelling program series at the Park Square Theater in Minneapolis, MN. Dane was in the middle of teaching the last segment when COVID-19 forced the theater to close. With the theater’s blessing, Dane shifted to an online format and retitled the program: “Storytellers Online: Bringing Our Stories to the World.”
Stagebridge is the nation’s oldest and most renowned theatre company for older adults. Founded in Oakland, CA in 1978 by Dr. Stuart Kendall, the organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of older adults and their communities through the performing arts.
When COVID-19 forced teachers and students at Stagebridge to shelter in place, their programming was between sessions. Staff took time to decide how to proceed with their popular Performing Arts Institute, which offers classes in acting, musical theater, tap and modern dance, devised and playback theater, storytelling, and stand-up comedy.
Lifetime Arts Roster Teaching Artist, Greacian Goeke, has taught her signature class, “Free to Move: Expressive Movement & Rhythm for Brain & Body Health,” at the Albany Senior Center outside of Oakland, CA for the last 10 years. The class is an opportunity to, “…interact and explore the expressive language of movement, sharpening both physical and mental agility.”
Greacian and her students were devastated when COVID-19 forced the Albany Senior Center to shut down. However, she immediately reached out to her students to propose continuing online via Zoom.
After intentional efforts to understand the diverse needs, perspectives and experiences of older adults, MOCA Tucson developed creative aging workshop series that pushed boundaries, took risks and combat antiquated and ageist ideas of what older adults want to learn and how they want to express themselves.
Gloria King and Jarahn Cosby perform, “Acting Out!,” at “Advancing Creative Aging in NYC,” a convening held on February 7, 2020 at the Ford Foundation in New York to celebrate and share the findings from the New York City Creative Aging Initiative, a project of Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College, Lifetime Arts, and LiveOn NY, funded by The New York Community Trust.
Writer and Director: Julie Kline
Teaching Artist Sound Artist: Liza Zapol Music
Composition: Nelson Downend
This performance was created through Roots&Branches Theater and the Stanley Isaacs Senior Center.
Minnesota Opera sought and successfully built organizational support and buy-in for their Seeding Vitality Arts pilot program, “Voices of Opera.” The older adult community members’ incredible interest, the education department’s commitment to designing responsive programming, and the board’s involvement in the program itself were the building blocks of a creative aging infrastructure. Minnesota Opera is a model for other organizations as they grasped the importance of full organizational support from the beginning to ensure that a program is sustained beyond a grant-funded pilot.
Supported wholeheartedly by Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) leadership, creative aging programming has become an integral part of the library’s offerings for their older adults. By leveraging pre-existing resources and infrastructure and dedicating support towards the programs, the Brooklyn Public Library has been offering creative aging programming successfully since 2011.
Through clear and innovative programming, active demonstration of program benefits, and equal investment in their community of teaching artists and participants, Dances for a Variable Population (DVP) has been able to build successful, lasting relationships with a variety of partner organizations. These partnerships have formed the backbone of their programming, and sustained them throughout the 15 years of their existence.