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.
Rumriver Art Center (RRAC) had not anticipated the outpouring of community interest that their creative aging programming would attract. Prior to offering arts education opportunities to adults 55+, they had only focused on providing youth classes. The team at the Center soon discovered that older students not only wanted to take the classes they were offering, but wanted even more opportunities to make artwork. Program participants expressed a strong desire to have access to even more studio time. RRAC leadership quickly realized that they would need to make several programmatic and administrative changes to support the massive success of the programming.
Over the course of two years, the Center saw their creative aging programming budget increase from 0% to over 25% of their annual budget. RRAC realized that they needed to hire additional staff to adequately support the program, and knew they needed the board’s full support to address their staffing needs.
Directors Larry Weinberg and Susan Yee approached the board with the idea of bringing on a Director of Vitality Arts. The board agreed, and therefore set up an infrastructure to support and sustain this vital programming.
The entire infrastructure and organizational priorities have been reimagined since the pilot began with the addition of Vitality Arts to the culture of the organization, and the launch of Vitality Arts programs has forever changed the organization. The RRAC community base was transformed from mostly youth to predominantly older adults. Many participants later became teachers, volunteers and even employees after attending classes.
Additionally, The RRAC Board of Directors agreed that the Vitality Arts classes were a great opportunity for the art center to reach out to an under-served segment of the population in the north metro area. RRAC created a “Senior Art-Reach” program that brought artistic opportunities to elders at local senior centers, assisted living facilities and YMCAs throughout the north metro. It also encouraged and supported the creation of “clubs” for those who wished to continue their art together.
The directors of RRAC also participate in regional arts councils, and RRAC has begun to receive grants from both the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board to support their ongoing Vitality Arts programs.
Host Organization Name
Rumriver Art Center
Host Organization Description
From their website: The mission of Rumriver Art Center (RRAC) is to make a difference through art by being a welcoming and inspiring environment for artists of all ages to explore their creative potential through our classes, collaborations, and partnerships with like-minded individuals in the North Metro…They reach over 10,000 students annually of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and economic backgrounds offering the opportunity to grow artistically and creatively while building confidence and social skills.
Larry Weinberg served as program coordinator for these creative aging workshops.
Host Organization Website
Year 1: The Rumriver Art Center developed four 8-week classes. They offered three classes in the spring: “Acrylic Painting,” “Hand-Built Pottery,” and “Mixed Media Collage.” They also offered another 8-week “Hand-Built Pottery” class that ran in the summer. The classes encouraged creativity for older adults through several exercises and mini projects. All four of the classes followed a similar format. The goal was to ignite creativity and provide opportunities to build relationships. The classes were structured to encourage creative freedom, and participants had the chance to work with other students on collaborative projects.
Year 2: RRAC mounted sessions in the fall and the spring. Each session offered three workshops set up to deliver sequential learning over the course of eight weeks: “Acrylic Painting,” “Wheel Throwing Pottery,” and ‘Drawing” in the spring; “Mixed Media Memoir,” “Hand-Built Pottery,” and “Watercolor” in the fall. Registration for all six classes were full with a waiting list. Twelve to 15 participants were enrolled in each class. RRAC levied a per participant fee of $75 per workshop series which included all materials.
Art studio space, including dedicated ceramics studio.
RRAC used a combination of social media, the RRAC Newsletter, press coverage and 12 free outreach classes in the north metro area. The free classes gave the participants a chance to try different mediums at various senior centers and assisted living facilities. RRAC also worked with the local cities to promote the SVA program.
The culminating event was a mini exhibition for each workshop series, followed by a group exhibition and reception for all of the programs, held in the art center’s gallery space.
Seeding Vitality Arts Minnesota
Seeding Vitality Arts Minnesota enabled a diverse cohort of 15 organizations across the state of Minnesota to develop and implement high-quality, intensive arts learning opportunities for older adults. Aroha Philanthropies provided program funding to selected organizations for up to two years as well as access to the training and technical assistance needed for them to be successful.
The initiative’s goals were to:
- Demonstrate the power and impact of creative aging programs to a broad national audience
- Encourage arts and cultural organizations to develop participatory arts education programs for older adults
- Encourage organizations that serve older adults to develop arts education programming
- Refine and disseminate effective program models
The launch of Vitality Arts programs has forever changed the organization … Many SVA participants later became students, teachers, volunteers and even employees after attending a Vitality Arts class … From the ideas and support of many of our SVA participants, RRAC has developed an annual Art-A-Thon Fundraiser event, which is 48 hours of nonstop art and creativity where all funds raised support RRAC programming.
Case Study Details
case study topicsOrganizational Commitment, Sustainability
organization typeArts Organizations
art formVisual Arts
program site typeArts Organizations
includes virtual programming?No
8-12 sessions @ 90-120 min.
funding sourcePrivate Foundation