CASE STUDY: Partnering with Arts Org / Sustainability

Richmondtown Library - Roaring Chorus 1
A performance by the Roaring Chorus. Photo credit: Herb Scher

Originating at West New Brighton Library, the Roaring Chorus was proposed as a choral performance creative aging program. Initially, the West New Brighton Library was skeptical they would be able to recruit interested older adults. The pilot program at West New Brighton was so popular and successful that the first culminating needed to be moved to a larger space at the Richmondtown Library. Due to it’s popularity, the Richmondtown Library applied for more funds to continue this choral program.

Participants received sequential, skill-based music instruction focused on vocal training, introduction to basic harmony and music theory, basic ear training, and chorus singing. Sessions were designed and taught by three members of Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, a locally based ensemble and non profit arts organization, with a consortium of primarily young, high-caliber musicians dedicated to the craft of chamber music.

A final culminating event was held on March 26th, 2012 at the Richmondtown Library. In addition to performing to a public audience at the library, the event was also simulcasted on a public access television channel.

FORMAT
A performing arts program of 20 instructional sessions, two hours in length, and a public culminating event.

DATES
October 2011 – March 2012

SIZE
30

SYSTEM
New York Public Library

FUNDING
Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Their mission is to improve the health care and overall quality of life for the elderly of New York City. Through a competitive application process, the Richmondtown Library was selected to receive funding, with a challenge to its partnering arts organization to match 25% of the funds.

PARTNERS
Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
Located in the middle of Staten Island, Richmondtown Library’s community is predominantly middle to upper-middle class, and in service to a large Russian population. Richmondtown County has an older adult population of over 25% and growing. A majority of the participants were members of the local community. However, due to the accessibility of public transportation, participants were able to travel to the library from all over Staten Island, contributing to a diverse group.

PROGRAM CHALLENGES
One challenge of this program was convincing the originating library that older adults would be interested in creative aging programming.

SUSTAINABILITY
Given the capacity of non-profits to raise funds, Lifetime Arts made a condition of funding for the next round that Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble provide a 25% match to the funds we were allocating. MCCE was able to raise funds from a council member for the Roaring Chorus which resulted in a 20 week program with over 50 participants. The commitment to this project continues as MCCE applied for and  received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Arts Education program specifically for the Roaring Chorus.

OUTCOMES
The Roaring Chorus gave Lifetime Arts the opportunity to test a new model. In this case the arts partner was not an individual artist, but a non-profit arts organization, Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, which engages professional teaching artists.

The Roaring Chorus continues to instruct older adults in building musical choral skills with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.  In addition, the library manager witnessed an increase of older adult patronage, utilizing library resources and creating their own book discussion group.

“And you know what’s wonderful about it? You go to sleep singing. And we wake up singing.” — Participant

“This group started to develop like a family, a little family of singing people. And, you know, it was rewarding that way, because, you know, you walk out of there and you feel loved.” — Participant