2019 Pilot Programs

Learn more about the 10 nonprofit arts education organizations from 9 states that were part of the 2018-2019 Catalyzing Creative Aging cohort, and were selected in 2019 to receive seed grants of $7,000 each to support the launch of new, innovative arts education programming for older adults in their communities:


Art League Houston, Houston, TX (Illustration and Watercolor)

Art League Houston’s new residency program will offer instruction in urban landscape illustration and plein air watercolor painting to older adults of all skill levels in Houston’s Fifth Ward community. The program, which includes skill building, intentional social engagement opportunities and field trips to community sites, will enable older adults to capture and express the history and culture of their neighborhood. An experienced teaching artist will meet with 12 participants once a week for a two hour, 30 minute class held over a period of 12 weeks. The program will be provided at no cost to participants and will culminate in final works that combine architectural sketching and watercolor painting to portray locations of personal or historic significance in the community. These works will be shared publicly through three main events: an exhibition at the J.W. Peavy Senior Center where classes will take place, a window installation at the Mystic Lyon art space in 5th Ward where artwork will be digitally projected on a loop, and at a gallery exhibition in a community art space in Houston’s Arts District.


Art Works Now, Hyattsville, MD (Acrylic Painting)

Art Works Now's new creative aging program will engage up to 18 older adults in a 12-week course in acrylic painting and mixed drawing media designed to foster participants’ belief in their innate capacities to make art. Students will meet for two hours, once a week and will complete this course having a strong basic understanding of acrylic painting, color theory, observational skill development, and an awareness of the effects of color on the viewer. As confidence builds, participants will create observational paintings of still-life arrangements, quick studies from life, and a self-portrait. This program will be offered free-of-cost to participants and transportation will be provided through a contract with the City of Hyattsville’s Call-A-Bus service. An exhibition of participants’ work will be held in Art Works’ gallery for family, friends and public officials and will stay on exhibit during the organization's annual holiday event where participants will have opportunities to discuss their work with more than three hundred community members.  

Bloomingdale School of Music, New York, NY (Guitar)

In partnership with Morningside Retirement and Health Services, Bloomingdale School of Music will provide an introductory guitar class for up to 12 older adults. Participants will meet for 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks at Morningside. Through the program, students will learn various classical/acoustic guitar techniques: how to hold the instrument, how to care for the instrument, right hand/left hand coordination, simple chords, and finger-plucking, as well as how to read music. This program is designed to be of no cost to participants with the exception of an instrument rental fee of $50 which can be waived if a participant is unable to pay. The culminating event will be a recital of a few pieces that the group will play together as an ensemble, followed by a reception with Morningside residents and Bloomingdale faculty and staff. 


Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT (Dance)

Designed for adults 55+, this class equips and encourages participants to have confidence on the dancefloor at weddings and other social gatherings, or to even host their own dance party. Students learn everything from salsa to disco, from the jitterbug to hip-hop, all while increasing balance, coordination, and space awareness. This program welcomes up to 20 participants, once a week, for 10 Fridays. Each 90-minute class culminates in a dance party with participants trying out what they’ve learned in an open, dance party format. Throughout the class, students share their dance floor stories, reflect on and demonstrate what they are learning, and request particular dance and music genres. Community partners Wake Robin and Cathedral Square assist with transportation and also plan to host dance parties at their sites, creating opportunities for the students to engage with and contribute to the social life of their communities. The course will be offered at $15 per class with scholarships available. The course culminates at the Flynn’s public Community Dance Showcase on December 9, where students will perform a choreographed piece on the Flynn’s Main Stage and host a dance party for friends and family. 


Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (Mixed Media Collage)

In a new 10-week collage making course at Hyde Park Art Center, older adults will explore abstract, figurative, surreal, and mixed-media collage techniques. Students will meet for two-hours, once a week, and develop an eye for selecting imagery from printed materials according to color, shape, pattern, texture, and light, and hone basic skills, from layout building to application to finishing touches. A primary objective of the class is to support recall through the collage process. Through the course, beginning in October, older adults from Chicago’s South Side will have the opportunity to share their memories, tell their stories, and collect and recollect the images that define their life experiences. The program will culminate in early February with a public exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. This pilot program is provided in partnership with Off the Pew and University of Chicago’s SHARE Network which will enable a larger network to attend programs at the Art Center through assisted marketing and communications, as well as transit to and from the program. 


Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY (Media Arts)

Through a new, 12-week digital storytelling course, the Jacob Burns Film Center will provide 10 members of The Knoll’s community the opportunity to share a personal memory or experience through images, music, and voiceover. The Knolls, which is part of Bethel Homes and Services, is the only not-for-profit organization in Northern Westchester offering a full continuum of services to seniors including assisted living, independent supportive living, and adult day services. The course, A Storied Life, will follow the three main phases of production: pre-production in which they brainstorm, conceive, and develop their story and its beats; production in which they select and scan existing photographs and images or create new photographs and images and record sound; and post-production, where they will assemble all the components of their project into a finished piece. Finally, their digital stories will be shared at a premiere screening for families, friends, senior service partners, and community members; the event will be complimented by a digital program with links to the digital stories and artist statements. 


Newark School of the Arts, Newark, NJ (Choral Music and African Dance/Drum)

Newark School of the Arts (NSA) will be piloting two, 10-week creative aging programs at the senior living facility, Grace West Manor: a choral program, “From Doo-Wop to Disco,” and a West African dance and drum course. In the choral program, older participants will explore American music culture and build confidence as they hone their musical skills and expand their vocal range, improving breath-support, clarifying diction, discerning major/minor harmonies and understanding the evolution of the American sound (harmonic, melodic, instrumental) over time. In addition to learning vocal skills, participants will contextualize their learning through group discussions and shared memories of issues such as the advent of television, the space age, the civil rights movement, the anti-war protests and equal-rights movements of the 70’s. The second course will build skills in West African Dance technique at the beginning level for older adults with or without mobility issues with focus on rhythm, songs, and culture as well as dance choreographies traditionally performed for rites of passage, courtship, and other cultural occasions helping participants build community and individual potential. Students from both classes will present their work to peers at a holiday concert at Grace West Manor as well as perform as featured guests in NSA’s public, Holiday Concerts.


Powers Music School, Belmont, MA (Choral Music)

In partnership with the Waltham Council on Aging, Powers Music School will pilot a free, 10-week choral music program for up to 50 older adults in Waltham, MA. The program will empower participants to become more musically and socially connected through progressive skill building classes that infuse vocal technique with student-selected repertoire and social engagement exercises. As the class progresses, repertoire will be introduced along with exercises that incorporate music and movement, improvisation, and translating personal emotion into musical expressivity. These advanced techniques promote deeper engagement and strengthen group cohesion by building trust among participants as they work toward a final performance. While reading music is not a requirement to participate, any music, lyric sheets, or other handouts will be provided in large type for reading ease. When necessary, recorded rehearsals or song recordings will be available to facilitate practice.  The culminating event will include a concert during which participants perform a selection of the music they've learned and recap some of the important learning milestones from the course. 


Studio Arts Boulder, Boulder, CO (Ceramics)

Studio Arts Boulder (SAB) will provide a free, eleven-week ceramics program to up to 18 residents of Boulder Housing Partners of the Canyon Pointe, High Mar, Northport, and Walnut Place properties. These four communities were identified by SAB’s proposed partner organization, Boulder Housing Partners, which manages over 35 different community sites as a part of the Section 8 Housing Community Program in Boulder. The program is intended to promote positive social engagement and learning opportunities for older adults by providing a unique, skill-building ceramics program that explores pottery across cultures and history. Participants will get the chance to work with four different types of clay bodies and learn hard skills such as: coil building, slab techniques and glazing. Students will explore examples of ceramics across cultures from ancient times to contemporary art, and will come away with a deep understanding of both functional ceramics and fine art. SAB will hold a culminating art show, where program participants will display their work and lead an interactive table teaching attendees how to create simple pinch pots. Student work also will be displayed at SAB’s Staff Holiday Sale to promote awareness to the broader public. 


Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Beverly Hills, CA (Theater/Writing)

During a new 11-week course, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will provide up to 15 older adults an opportunity to gain skills in writing and performing autobiographical stories. Meeting once a week for 90-minutes, participants will learn creative techniques for recalling and capturing life stories in writing, and performing them in ways that will connect with an audience. This pilot program will be offered for a low fee; need-based scholarships will be available. The program will culminate with participants performing their stories onstage at the Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis.