2021 Pilot Programs

Learn more about the 14 nonprofit, community arts education organizations from 9 states that were part of the 2019-2020 Catalyzing Creative Aging cohort, and were selected in 2021 to receive seed grants of up to $7,000 each to support the launch of new, innovative arts education programming for older adults in their communities:


Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, LA (Photography & Creative Writing) The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is partnering with the West Baton Rouge Council on Aging to offer a workshop series focused on capturing everyday life and creating opportunities for connection for seniors who can no longer gather at Council on Aging facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will engage with the medium of photography—individually and within a group setting—as a form of visual storytelling that can be used to connect with neighbors and friends.


Austin Soundwaves, Austin, TX (Mariachi ParaTodos - Mariachi Ensemble)

Mariachi ParaTodos (Mariachi for All) will be a weekly small, intergenerational musical ensemble focusing on learning 5 mariachi songs over the course of 8 consecutive weeks. Participants will be a combination of high school-aged students through adults over 55. At the end of the 8 weeks of instruction, Mariachi ParaTodos will perform as part of a live end of year celebration with Austin Soundwaves. All will sing as part of the mariachi choir. No prior experience is required EXCEPT for anyone wishing to also perform on an instrument (no beginning instrumental instruction will be offered).


Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Dallas, TX (Visual Arts & Storytelling)

Bishop Arts Theatre Center’s (BATC) vision is to provide shared learning and co-creation experiences with high school visual artists and older adult learners titled, “My Life’s Narratives on Canvas” workshop. The primary objectives of the workshop include: changing the stigmas around aging, combatting social isolation, improving academic performance and social skills for emerging artists, give a voice to the voiceless, and using visual arts and storytelling as a resource for measuring the effect and longevity of culture. BATC’s professional teaching artists will lead the older adult participants into guided storytelling workshops with assistance from the high school students.


The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA (Hand-building with clay)

The Clay Studio strives to connect the older adult community in the South Kensington neighborhood with The Clay Studio as an organization, creative community, and place of learning. Through the program, participants will learn essential hand-building techniques for clay and be able to expand their knowledge of the medium; gain a creative outlet for expression; and connect with new and familiar members of their communities (friends, neighbors, artists, and The Clay Studio). Programming will take place in an outdoor neighborhood space, with the hopes of holding the program in our new building in the future.


Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, New York, NY (Flamenco dance, music and song)

Flamenco Pa’ Todos (Flamenco for Everyone) uses flamenco dance and music to bring culturally rich, sequential, hands-on learning to adults 55+. In 10 virtual (Zoom) sessions, students will master flamenco techniques, rhythms, and movement, building a full choreography. With live music each session, participants learn the essential “language” of flamenco which lies in the collaboration between the dance and music. 2 asynchronous sessions include a History of Flamenco video and one "lab" session to create student derived elements, to be integrated into the final performance.


Healthy Living and Fitness, Inc., Oklahoma City, OK (Maskmaking)

This program will introduce participants to the art of Mask Making with a focus on Medieval and Renaissance masks created in European cultures. It will combine art history with a creative hands-on experience. We will have some participants learning in-person and will have material packets for other participants to learn via facebook live where they can also ask questions. Teaching artist Patrick Riley is a nationally recognized mask maker. Participants will develop new skills and aesthetic understandings as they make imaginative masks using a variety of materials and technical methods.


The Legacy Arts Project, Pittsburgh, PA (Collage and Poetry)

Participants will reflect on life experiences and learn to tell their stories through creative collage projects. Lessons on Expressionism, examples of notable artist storytellers, and projects in collaboration with their children, grandchildren, and/or friends will encourage conceptual skills and illustrate how artists create connections and incorporate narrative in their work. We will engage motor skills by employing various handheld tools; use communication skills when workshopping and sharing stories; and think scientifically while discussing the transformations that occur when materializing thoughts. Participants will gain self-awareness and build connections: some weekly creative prompts will require working in teams or small groups.


New England Conservatory, Boston, MA (Music: Choir, Vocal technique, Breath work, Songwriting)

The NEC Virtual Choir for Seniors will give up to 25 older adult learners the opportunity to participate in a nine-week virtual singing class. Using zoom, the participants will create a singing community as they work with master teaching artists once weekly. Participants will learn vocal warm-ups and breath work, as well as songs that relate to participant interests. The program will culminate in a sing-through “performance” as well as collaborative compilation of participants' work. Additional components will include an optional songwriting workshop with NEC students and a ​virtual community sing-along with other area community choirs.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College (Pittsfield, MA) Singing and Performance

OLLI will present an online cabaret singing & performance with an experienced voice teacher and accompanist who together have taught cabaret workshops for over 10 years. We believe this arts discipline will create strong social interaction among students and inspire those who attend the culminating public performance. The course will build confidence and knowledge in singing and performance techniques. Students will be coached in class each week on their singing assignments so that learning takes place through observation as well as feedback. Assignments will be given each week.


Ping Chong + Company, New York, NY (Theatrical Storytelling/Memoir)

Ping Chong + Company will lead a theatrical storytelling workshop series for three Manhattan partner sites serving older adults, delivered virtually over eight sessions (plus individual coaching), culminating in a streamed script reading weaving participants’ work. Centering creative expression, social connectivity, and meaning-making around personal/community histories, objectives include building skills in writing (descriptive language, clarity), documentary theater (expressive potential of voice & body, adapting memoir into performance), and empathy (dismantling walls, identifying commonalities.) By the program's end, learners will be able to write and share powerful personal narratives, transform stories into scripts, practice ensemble & theater skills to rehearse/perform, and forge new social connections.


Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, Portsmouth, NH (A World of Percussion)

This program will introduce beginner and intermediate drumming and percussion techniques, rhythmic study and ensemble playing. Students will learn and perform music using a variety of drums, accessory percussion such as shakers, maracas, and claves, and body percussion. Study of the regional musical culture will be woven into the curriculum, to build an appreciation for the African diaspora, and other complex/cross-cultural, migrational lines. Students will expand their skills in active listening, drumming, improvisation, composition, vocalizing of rhythms, and cross lateral movement independence. Social engagement will include sharing personal stories of living and/or traveling to new countries and cultures.


The Rockland Conservatory of Music, Pearl River, NY (Songwriting)

The Rockland Conservatory of Music will use songwriting as a means of spontaneous personal expression as participants learn methods of musical composition. This will enable the participants – either as solo composers or in 2-4 person songwriting teams, to find their voice through song. Using the seven elements of music, these new songwriters will compose and present at least one song per team over 10 hours in this five-week session via Zoom. The whole group will meet Fridays, and the Teaching Artist will meet with each songwriter/team individually Tuesdays.


Sonoran Glass School, Tucson, AZ (Creating My Story – Visual Journaling through the Glass Arts)

Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their life experiences and tell personal stories through creative glass projects. Lessons will touch on Expressionism and include examples of notable artist storytellers. Hands-on projects, in collaboration with children, grandchildren, or friends, will encourage conceptual skills and illustrate how artists create connections and incorporate narrative in their work. We will engage motor skills by employing various handheld tools; use communication skills when workshopping and sharing stories; and think scientifically while discussing the transformations that occur when working with glass. Participants will gain self-awareness and build connections: some weekly creative prompts will require working in teams or small groups.


The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE (Handbuilding Clay)

The Union for Contemporary Art's Co-Op Studios will produce a Community and Artmaking workshop designed to engage North Omaha seniors, ages 55yrs and older, in a sequential, skills-based ceramics workshop series, while increasing personal connection and social engagement opportunities. Participants will explore basic handbuilding techniques during this free, 8-week program hosted via Zoom.