In 2019, one hundred Minnesota teaching artists participated in two teaching artist trainings in creative aging, co-presented by Aroha Philanthropies and the Minnesota State Arts Board, in partnership with Lifetime Arts. Today on the blog, Sarah Drebelbis of Aroha Philanthropies describes the reasoning, design, and impact of two successful training events held in Minneapolis.
Note: The activities described in this post took place before the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on how museums are continuing their creative aging work during this period, see this post.
Why Creative Aging?
For the past fifty-plus years, the work of arts and cultural institutions has centered on providing professional arts productions or exhibitions for audiences to enjoy. Today, though, the role of our cultural institutions is broadening to include facilitating the creative and expressive lives of our richly varied communities.
Among these communities, the older adult population is historically underserved and overlooked. Meanwhile, the number and percentage of adults in the U.S. who are fifty-five and older is growing dramatically. Today, about one in seven people in the U.S. are older than sixty-five. By 2030, it will be one in four or five. This group spans fifty-plus years of life, incorporating up to three generations of people with every level of ability, energy, and potential.Skip over related stories to continue reading article
Aroha champions programs that enable active older adults to learn, make, and share the arts. These programs are based on the same arts education principles that drive youth arts education, including sequential skill-based learning over a period of time, but they are tailored to the unique strengths and needs of older adults. We hope to help people understand that aging is about growth, not just decline; about opportunities, not just challenges; and about the contributions older people can and do make.
Investing in Teaching Artists
One aspect of championing creative aging programs is supporting the teaching artists who lead them. According to the most recent Creative MN report, there are 108,755 creative and artist workers and 1,903 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Minnesota. To further the creative aging movement in our home state, Aroha developed a teaching artist training model to support, inspire, and equip teaching artists to create successful, effective arts education programs for older adults. A diverse group of Minnesota teaching artists who are experienced in the creative aging field advised on the development of the training, which was led by Lifetime Arts.
Teaching Artist Trainings
In 2019, Aroha and the Minnesota State Arts Board sponsored two free two-day training opportunities for Minnesota teaching artists of all artistic disciplines and all levels of experience.
To garner interest and include teaching artists from across the state, an open registration period was held before fifty participants were randomly selected for each training. We saw an overwhelmingly positive response from Minnesota teaching artists, with more than 250 total lottery submissions.
The trainings included an exploration of ageism, a hands-on deconstruction of a creative aging workshop, a review of best practices in curriculum design, and tangible ideas on how to include social engagement in all artistic mediums in creative aging programs. Participants had the opportunity to network and connect with peers interested in this field, hear from a panel of teaching artists who have experience working with older adults, and witness the impact of creative aging programs through live student performances and panel discussions.
Presentations from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Springboard for the Arts shared grant opportunities and resources for teaching artists to support creative aging programming.
“There is lots to learn if you want to work with seniors. Aroha and Lifetime Arts have created a powerful, illuminating, and fun training that will give you all the necessary knowledge and tools you need to be a successful teaching artist. You will learn about creating professional and concise curriculums, the dos and don’ts working with seniors, developing successful partnerships and learn how to apply for [funding opportunities]. Teaching Artists of all backgrounds and experience levels will greatly benefit from this Teaching Artists Training in Creative Aging.”
Creative aging programs empower active older adults to dive into learning an art form in an environment that fosters community, friendship, and engagement. By providing these trainings, our hope is that the one hundred newly trained Minnesota teaching artists will advocate for and seek out opportunities to develop sequential, skill-building programs that engage older adults, both individually and within arts and cultural organizations across Minnesota.
For more information, please contact Sarah Drebelbis (firstname.lastname@example.org).