Other Creative Aging Models

Across the country there are a number of arts organizations that create and deliver programs for older adults in their communities. They are generally discipline specific – focused either on theater or dance or visual arts for example. They offer a menu of programs, often with an accompanying fee. Some are instructional, some are episodic, one-time events that may or may not be participatory. Selected examples include:

In New York City, Elders Share the Arts (ESTA) is an arts education organization that, since 1979 has been offering participatory arts programs for older adults. Their work is largely based on reminiscence and includes intergenerational programs.

Additionally, there are several “creative aging” regional and local organizations that promote creative aging through trainings, advocacy and in some cases program funding. These include ArtSage in Minnesota and Gainesville Creative Aging Network in Florida.

National Center for Creative Aging

In 2000, ESTA’s founder, Susan Perlstein, established the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) now in Washington, D.C. NCCA, a membership organization acts as a clearinghouse for creative aging and focuses its efforts within three target areas:

  1. health and wellness;
  2. lifelong learning; and
  3. community engagement

with an emphasis on health and wellness. NCCA provides technical assistance through fee-based webinars, education, research, and advocacy and some training.

National Guild for Community Arts Education

Some service organizations provide resources to support creative aging such as the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

Founded in 1937, the National Guild for Community Arts Education supports and advances access to lifelong learning opportunities in the arts. More than 460 member organizations include community schools of the arts; arts centers; and arts education divisions of performing arts institutions, universities, museums, and other organizations. They are located in urban, suburban and rural communities in 45 states.

The Creative Aging Program was initiated in 2009 by MetLife Foundation and the National Guild to promote creative aging programming amongst member organizations.

Program goals:

  1. increase the capacity of nonprofit community arts education providers to serve older adults;
  2. expand and/or deepen existing creative aging programs of high quality; and
  3. identify exemplary creative aging programs as models for the field.

The program is part of the National Guild’s multi-year Creative Aging Initiative, which, in partnership with the National Center for Creative Aging and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, published Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit in English and Spanish and which also produces training institutes for community arts education leaders.