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.
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.
Teaching Artist, Susan Willerman, has been teaching “Writing From Life” at Morningside Retirement and Health Services in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC for 26 consecutive years. The class started as a program of Elders Share the Arts in 1994, and now continues as part of the Teachers & Writers Collaborative. When COVID-19 forced members to shelter at home, Susan and Tiana, one of the members, worked together to develop the most effective ways to continue the program online.