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.
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.
Rumriver Art Center’s Seeding Vitality Arts programming exceeded their expectations and became a driving force behind their organizational strategy. Having realized that sustaining creative aging programs at the Center would require total alignment of programmatic, administrative, and financial goals, they realigned priorities to ensure that their work in this critical area could continue and flourish.
Intergenerational programming is traditionally structured in a model that puts the older adult into a mentor role of the younger person. Often it is the younger person who creates the work inspired by the older adult’s storytelling or mentorship.
School One turned this model on its head and created new paths to learning for both the older adults and the younger students. Intentional planning and working closely with their teaching artists led School One to develop a storytelling and performance curriculum that honored the voices and contributions of both older and younger students. Together, people in all generations explored the art form, took risks, shared their stories, and performed as equal players for a public audience.
The dedicated staff and leadership of Johnson City Public Library (JCPL) conducted extensive community surveys and developed new local partnerships to successfully pilot 15 Creative Aging programs over two years. Programs included, “Afro-Caribbean Drumming & Creative Movement,” “Appalachian Music (Banjo and Mandolin),” “Creative Writing,” “Sculpture,” “Photography,” and “Theater.”
“Tim Carpenter is the founder of EngAGE and host/producer of the EXPERIENCE TALKS radio show. EngAGE is a nonprofit that transforms aging and the way people think about aging by turning affordable senior apartment communities into vibrant centers of learning, wellness and creativity. EngAGE provides life-enhancing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, community building and intergenerational programs and events to thousands of seniors living in Southern California.
Experience Talks is a radio magazine that shines a light on the value of experience in society, airing for 250,000 listeners on Saturdays at 8 a.m. Pacific on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara and streaming live worldwide on the web at www.kpfk.org. The show is syndicated by the Pacifica Network to up to 100 cities nationwide.
Tim catalyzed the creation of the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a first-of-its-kind senior apartment community with high-end arts amenities and programs. In 2008, Tim was elected an Ashoka Fellow for being one of the top social entrepreneurs in the world, and in 2011, Tim received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.”
In this interview with classical flute player, Tamara Keshecki, she talks about how she began working as a teaching artist in elementary and intermediate schools, with developmentally disabled adults and through a non-profit arts organization, Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, Inc. This led her to teaching Creative Aging programs through Lifetime Arts. Through Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, Inc., she has taught almost 100 Creative Aging classes of the Roaring Chorus. Tamara also talks about her experience in this work and serving older adults.
In this interview, Lifetime Arts’ Education Associate and theater artist, Julie Kline, who began her creative work with younger children, talks about how her experience with working with an intergenerational theater company, Roots & Branches Theater, led her to working creatively with older adults. She also shares an experience from one of her classes that demonstrates the benefits of Creative Aging for older adults.
Teaching artist, David DeBlieck currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Dance in the Theater Department at the College of St Benedict & St John’s University. Since 2010, David has conducted numerous workshops and residencies in the community through the Paramount Center for the Arts, including participation as a lead artist in the Growing Artful program part of Aroha Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts Initiative.