Tag: Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge

LaGuardia Senior Center student, Margaret Yuen, sharing her pop-up memory book, “A Prosperous Family全家福,” Margaret used materials found around her home to create this pop-up using Spica Wobbe and Karen Oughred's instructional videos. Credit: The Memory Project: Storytelling through Visual Arts, Theater and Puppetry

Creative Aging During COVID-19

When COVID-19 forced lockdown orders this past spring, professionals working in creative aging and arts education mobilized to discuss the pandemic’s impact on older adults and on the arts community. These groups covered topics such as alleviating social isolation for older adults, teaching artist employment, organizational capacity, innovative programming, online access and technology support, and funding. The following are but a few highlights of these efforts.

Organizing to Supporting the Teaching Artists Who Engage Older Adults

In March, the Teaching Artists Guild (TAG) joined with the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA), the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Creative Generation, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and the Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic to present a webinar for teaching artists bracing for the impact of COVID-19 on the United States. This webinar is available on TAG’s website, as is a master list of resources from panelists and participants who attended the webinar.

In April, Lifetime Arts produced and launched, Creative Aging 101, a free, one-hour abridged version of our creative aging training in order to support anyone in the field working to combat social isolation in older adults through arts education during lockdown. This mini-course features “Adapting Creative Aging Course Design for Remote Program Delivery” (PDF) a set of guidelines designed to help teaching artists and programmers adapt their curricula for remote delivery. Learn more about this offering and Lifetime Arts’ response from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) blog post: “Social Distancing Doesn’t Need to Equal Social Isolation.” Lifetime Arts also aimed to curate resources that didn’t overlap with the ones already being posted elsewhere.

Throughout the pandemic, the National Guild for Community Arts Education’s Creative Aging Network has actively supported teaching artists, cultural workers, and arts organizations who continue to foster positive aging and social connection for older adults. The Network’s Facebook group serves as an interactive space for creative aging practitioners to share resources, upcoming virtual workshops, presentations and programs, and inspiring stories of successful remote arts learning and social engagement. The Guild has also rebranded their Community Conversations series as virtual co-learning events designed to explore discipline-based topics from dance, music, and theatre programming to arts and K-12 school partnerships to teaching artistry.

This summer, Aroha Philanthropies offered a series of six virtual conversations for members of their Seeding Vitality Arts (SVA) initiative cohort. During these events Lifetime Arts’ provided recommendations and best practices for planning and delivering successful creative aging programs online.

A participant shares their artwork in a virtual workshop of, “La Vida es un Arte 2.0.” Credit: Lisa Ortega-Pol

Aroha had also invited their SVA in Museums cohort to apply for support for programming that would accommodate safe protocols. One of the museums who received a grant was Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte in Puerto Rico. Their virtual program, “La Vida es un Arte 2.0,” kicked off in September, and was taught by museum educator, Lisa Ortega-Pol.

Participant works on pottery in a mask during COVID-19.
A participant during a pottery session at the Union County Heritage Museum during COVID-19. Credit: Steve Bennett

Other grantees, like Union County Heritage Museum in Mississippi, held in-person pottery workshops with strict health and safety protocols in place. Their workshop was split up into two separate groups, and class size was reduced to 10 participants. During workshops, participants were socially distanced in their own workspaces, and wore masks.

In August, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) hosted the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Teaching Artist Virtual Retreat to arts education professionals from across the Mid-Atlantic region to build and strengthen a regional network of highly qualified teaching artists. Access a public playlist of the session recordings on YouTube.

Find Out More About Creative Aging Training + Salons 

Managing A Quick Pivot to Online Programming

Coro Solera, directed by San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC) faculty members, Martha Rodriguez-Salazar and Jennifer Peringer, is one of the 14 choirs in CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program. Credit: Sylvia Sherman

In an effort to highlight the work being done by a selection of teaching artists and programming organizations across the country, Lifetime Arts launched “Connect Through Creativity Now.” The stories in this series illustrate the hard work and ingenuity that has kept older adults connected and creating during this time of social isolation.

While we have focused on those in the field employing the traditional creative aging model (sequential, skill-based learning featuring social-engagement techniques and components), we also acknowledge others working outside the traditional model, who have offered older adults opportunities to create and share. Teaching artists and organizations serving older adults are invited to share their stories with us.

Browse Connect Through Creativity Now Stories

Selected Efforts Outside the U.S.

Below is a limited selection of the many innovative organizations who continue to support social engagement through arts education and advocacy outside the U.S. (If you would like to share information your agency’s activities, please submit via our feedback form.)

Luminate Scotland

‘Founded in 2012 with partners Creative Scotland, the Baring Foundation, and Age Scotland, Luminate is Scotland’s creative aging organization.’ In 2018, Luminate implemented a year-round program to develop creative activities with, by and for older people. To continue arts programming during the pandemic, they created Luminate@Home, an online programming opportunity for older adults led by professional artists, and feature different artforms including crafts, poetry, music and dance.

Creative Age Canada

‘Creative Age was founded by Kathy Smith of London, Ontario, by bringing together a group of talented and creative adults 55+ to form a catalyst network with a mission to improve the quality of life of older adults in the London metro area. For the past 10 years, their facilitators, volunteers and associates have worked with older adults in public libraries, seniors centers, social housing, retirement homes and care homes.’ Since COVID-19, Creative Age has discontinued present and future in-person programs, but are working on promoting computer literacy and virtual activities to older adults in a new and defined program that will benefit a new generation of seniors, caregivers, service providers and community partners.

Age & Opportunity Ireland

‘Founded in 1988, Age & Opportunity is the leading national development organization in Ireland dedicated to improving the quality of life for older adults ages 50-100+. Since COVID-19, Age & Opportunity has provided resources and virtual creative opportunities for older adults, from poetry sessions to dance classes. They also run Bealtaine, Ireland’s national festival which uniquely celebrates the arts and creativity as we age.’ Bealtaine will be virtual this year.

Creative Aging International – Ireland

Creative Aging International, co-founded by Dominic Campbell and Bea Kelleher, ‘works creatively with companies, organizations and individuals worldwide developing innovative programs tailored to place and bringing together best practice for thought leadership. Their work transforms for the better how people view and approach aging – as individuals, as artists, as companies, as governments and as societies.’ Learn more about their approach to the pandemic and their Dawn Chorus project.

Arts and Minds England

‘Arts and Minds is dedicated to helping people living with mental challenges through the arts. They offer arts courses throughout Cambridgeshire. Arts and Minds have continued to offer creative workshops during COVID-19, including “Virtual Creative Cafe,” an 8-week program of online creative activities, and “Creative Care: Invitation to Create,” where artists share invitations each week for older adults to explore the spaces they are in new ways using only the simplest of materials and everyday objects.’

British Society of Gerontology Creative Aging SIG England

‘Established in 1971, The British Society of Gerontology (BSG) provides a multidisciplinary forum for researchers and other individuals interested in the situations of older people, and in how knowledge about aging and later life can be enhanced and improved. The BSG’s Ageing Issues Blog has attracted many contributors on the topics of aging and social engagement during COVID-19. The President of BSG, Thomas Scharf, weighed in on aging and COVID-19 on a Lancet Voice podcast.’ (Scroll down to access ‘Old Age and COVID-19’.)


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A live creative aging training in New York City, delivered by Lifetime Arts' Annie Montgomery and Antonia Perez.

As Programming Goes, So Does Training (Online)

Below are links to free, online creative aging training recordings, as well as highlights of upcoming training opportunities in the U.S.

The pandemic has not only impaired the ability to offer in-person programming to older adults, but it has impacted capacity-building efforts related to professional development and training.

From “Blended” to All Online (All the Time)

Traditionally, creative aging training is best delivered in person where teaching artists, community educators, and programmers can participate in immersive, experiential lessons and mock workshops.

Annie Montgomery, Director of Education at Lifetime Arts, has redesigned training delivery to incorporate synchronous online sessions, supported by asynchronous learning via digital materials and reference. Two of Lifetime Arts’ current statewide, cross-sector initiatives: a partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and the Creative Aging in Wyoming Public Libraries Initiative in partnership with the Wyoming Arts Council and Wyoming State Library, will employ this approach.

Recent Training Recordings Available to All

Creative Aging 101,” is an abridged version of Lifetime Arts’ in-person curriculum designed as a primer for anyone looking for an introduction to creative aging programming delivery. Adapting Creative Aging Course Design for Remote Program Delivery” (PDF), is a set of guidelines designed to help teaching artists and programmers adapt their curricula for remote delivery.

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

From August to September, the National Assembly of States Arts Agencies (NASAA) hosted the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Teaching Artists Virtual Retreat, a virtual series of online conferences that brought together arts education professionals from across the Mid-Atlantic region to build and strengthen a regional network of highly qualified teaching artists. Lifetime Arts’ Julie Kline delivered the session, “Creative Aging During COVID-19.” (All presentations are available to watch in the video playlist above.)

Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge

In September, the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge hosted the 2020 Louisiana Arts Summit in partnership with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, which offered teaching artists, arts organizations, educators, and community members opportunities for discussion, networking, and professional development. Annie Montgomery and Julie Kline delivered another virtual session on the topic of creative aging programming during COVID-19.

Fall 2020 Training Opportunities

New York City

From October through December, the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) is seeking Brooklyn-based teaching artists to facilitate a series of virtual creative salons for teaching artists. Each session will focus on facilitating a creative exercise/process for participants around the theme of “2020.”

State of Maryland

In November, as part of Maryland State Department of Education’s Micro-Credentials for Creative Classrooms courses, Lifetime Arts will facilitate a professional development series in creative aging for up to 25 independent, community-based teaching artists. This three-day remote training will give teaching artists the opportunity to learn about the history, supporting research, and exemplary programming happening in the creative aging field, experience a demonstration of andragogical approaches, learn about the best practices for both in-person and remote programming, with a focus on online delivery, and more.

National Guild for Community Arts Education

From December 2020 through January 2021, the National Guild for Community Arts Education will present Rootwork: Grounding Community Arts Education Beyond the Pandemic, a virtual online learning series designed specifically for cultural workers on creating programming informed by, and supportive of, the many, varied lived experiences of our communities in the unique context of this moment. The series will feature the session, “Combating Ageism in a Socially Distanced World,” presented by Montgomery and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, Mary Moore Easter.

Please use our Submission form to share information about what is going on in your community. Thank you.