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Funding for Creative Aging Programs

Category: Ad Summa: Museums and Creative Aging
Banknotes of different currencies hanging from a ceiling
Interest in creative aging programs at museums is widespread, but what about funding? Some recent grantees of the National Endowment for the Arts are encouraging. Photo credit: Jonny McKenna on Unsplash.

Without exception, the idea of initiating creative aging projects and programs at our museums is a very attractive one, but finding support to launch such efforts is another matter altogether. But let’s look on the bright(ening) side. More and more agencies are recognizing, as we ourselves hopefully are, the significance of the demographics on aging. Consequently, we see one agency after another listening and funding ideas that address the needs of older adult learners. The NEA is one such agency, and in this blog I want to focus on some of the successfully funded NEA proposals related to creative aging from the 2018 round of applications. Thanks largely to Beth Bienvenu at NEA, the agency has increased its support for creative aging programs, and we at AAM are very thankful for her dedication to the task. (It was Beth, by the way, in coordination with Gay Hanna, who organized and hosted the successful Summit on Creativity and Aging in 2015.) This list might give you some ideas as you plan your offerings:

  • Catapult Design, Denver, CO: “To support workshops and the development of a graphic publication focusing on Native American entrepreneurship, Catapult Design is working with tribal elders and other partners to educate future arts entrepreneurs in the growing of businesses that will stimulate jobs within the Navajo Nation [which extends across the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah].”
  • City of Lone Tree, CO: “To support performing arts programming for underserved audiences. Multigenerational programming will allow for a range of ages and abilities to experience meaningful arts and culture presentations.”
  • Crocker Art Museum, CA: “To support a portfolio of free arts programming and experiences promoting health and well-being for visitors with a variety of illnesses, and their caregivers. The Crocker, through partnerships, will leverage the healing power of the arts.” One major partner, among several, is UC, Davis Health System’s Center for Integrative Pain Management.
  • Hesston College, KS: “To support a concert and residency featuring a cappella vocal ensemble VOCES8. VOCES8 will also provide choral workshops with for underserved high school students as well as provide discounted transportation for low-income residents of local retirement communities.”
  • Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, AK: To support production and distribution costs for a reading-based multimedia project featuring Native storytellers.” Oral histories will be a key feature of these offerings.
  • Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, New Orleans, LA: “To support Soul Strings, a music-informed therapy program hosted collaboratively with the Arc of Greater New Orleans. Working with children and adults who have developmental disabilities and older adults with cognitive impairments [programs will assist in improving attention, memory, and communication].”
  • Marshall Country Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Inc: “To support Melodies and Musings—Our Appalachian Legacy, a Southwest regional mountain dulcimer festival and associated outreach activities.” The festival serves low-income, rural residents, and artists will “instruct senior citizens in the workshops.” The festival concludes with a concert joining teachers and students together.
  • Neo-Futurists, Chicago, IL: “To support touring performances of Tangles and Plaques and an art therapy workshop for memory care professionals in partnership with Bethany Retirement Community.” Tangles and Plaques, written by Kirsten River, seeks to demystify the experience of dementia.
  • New Mexico Literary Arts (Alzheimer’s Poetry Project), Santa Fe, NM: “To support the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and a collaboration with poet Mary McGinnis. The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project will provide innovative, professional poetry programming in rural and urban New Mexico for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, their families, and the general public.”

These are just a few of the many exciting programs that are being supported by NEA funding in 2018. Look to the NEA website for more information regarding recipients and the grant processes.  And, remember, funding for programs in creative aging will be discussed in future blogs as well as at our national convening at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, November 4-6, 2020. Watch this space for more updates!

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Ad Summa! (Onward/Upward)


Ad Summa is a weekly blog of the Museums and Creative Aging initiative of AAM. With the support of Aroha Philanthropies, AAM is able to offer these blogs, a special issue of AAM’s bi-monthly Museum magazine (October 2020), and a national convening at the High Museum in Atlanta, November 4-6, 2020. Join us, and feel free to contribute your own thoughts along the way!

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