Teaching Artists: These Pros Are Key to Better Aging

This video shows what it takes to teach the arts to older people

Part of the Vitality Arts Special Report

There’s a movement afoot. Growing awareness that arts participation helps improve lives for older adults has led to a growing number of programs aimed at teaching the arts to the 55-plus set. We’re profiling a number of these programs on Next Avenue as part of our Artful Aging special report. A few examples:

  • Lifetime Arts is tapping into libraries around the nation to offer classes on everything from poetry to tango
  • EngAge is changing the idea of affordable senior apartments by building senior artists colonies that offer a full slate of creative courses, such as drumming and theater
  • A dance company recruits older non-dancers to stage professional performances

The list could go on, and the programs couldn’t be more different, but they all share one thing: At the heart of them are teaching artists — professional working artists who also have the chops to teach older adults the tools and techniques of their trade.

On the extensive “Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit” website — an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to start or advocate for an artful aging program — a big chunk of real estate is dedicated to the importance of recruiting, training and retaining effective teaching artists. These are artists/teachers who understand the issues surrounding aging and know how to work with adults who bring decades of experience to the table.


By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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