CASE STUDY: Partnering with an Arts Center

Participants working at The Pelham Art Center.
Participants working on collage at The Pelham Art Center.

This program was a notable first-time collaboration between two well-loved community organizations, the Town of Pelham Public Library and the Pelham Art Center. The program allowed participants full access to the rich resources of both facilities.

Working with two professional teaching artists, older adults were engaged with each other and the artists, improved upon and learned new skills, and produced original creative writings and collages.

In partnership with a literary artist and a visual artist through 10 collaboratively designed workshops, participants used memory as a primary source to create original work — both in literary form and then in collage.

The first five sessions focused on creative writing, and took place at the Town of Pelham Public Library. The participants had a quiet and reflective space, filled with useful library resources, to focus on drafting original literary work.

The next five sessions took place at the Pelham Art Center, where a visual artist taught participants about the art form, collage techniques, principles and elements of design, and used their original writings as inspiration to produce collages.

Family, friends, the general public, and community leaders attended a culminating event at the Pelham Art Center on May 9th, 2009. With their collages displayed on the walls in the art center’s main gallery, participants read excerpts from their written work. A printed program was distributed, which included selected writings from the participants.

FORMAT

  • 10 workshops, 2 hours in length, and a culminating event:
    • Five writing workshops took place at the Town of Pelham Public Library and
    • Five collage workshops and the culminating event took place at the Pelham Art Center.

DATES
March – May 2009

SIZE
15

SYSTEM
Westchester Library System

FUNDING
Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation; A local, private foundation with an interest in creating age friendly neighborhoods. Through a competitive application process, the Town of Pelham Public Library was selected to receive funding.

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
A primarily affluent suburban town with a median household income of over $125,000 and per capita income of $72,560. Pelham has a small minority population, equaling about 20% of the total population. Contrary to the demographics, the program’s participants were from a diverse range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

CHALLENGES
Lifetime Arts was challenged with connecting two organizations from the same community who had never worked together. With support from Lifetime Arts – the Town of Pelham Public Library, the Pelham Art Center, and the two teaching artists were able to design and implement a successful and sustainable program.

SUSTAINABILITY
In 2010, the Town of Pelham Public Library received a second award from Lifetime Arts for another creative aging program. In 2011, the library used funds from a bequest to continue a creative aging program on its own. The library offered literary workshops for older adults, due to its success and appeal to the community. Following the continued success and desire for programming, the library set aside money in their budget to continue offering creative aging programs for another year.

OUTCOMES
Both the Town of Pelham Public Library and the Pelham Art Center acquired new audiences, and both organizations saw the value of collaboration. Also, participants successfully lobbied the library to continue programs for older adults.

“The Westchester Libraries Project provided older adults with a unique outlet to express themselves artistically in the comfort of their local library.”
— Terry Kirchner, Executive Director of the Westchester Library System