The OAF Blog

Arts and Aging

June 30, 2015

I’ve observed a rise in published materials and articles on the intersection between the arts and the areas of aging, healthcare and wellness. The driver may be the “Boomer” generation, who as they retire seek to keep active, learning and finding a place for the arts in their lives.

Pre-War Generation
When you consider that one of the most active participants and financial supporters of the arts are the ‘pre-war’ generation, this is important for arts organizations to incorporate into arts programs. It seems clear there is a general recognition that the arts ( in all disciplines ) benefit older adults emotionally, cognitively and socially. A number of research initiatives indicate that participating in the arts is good for the body, psyche and brain and warrants investments to enable participation.

Arts Integration
Integrating the arts with this age group is increasingly moving beyond a ‘nice to have’. Providing culturally enriched programming enhances quality of life, engages this sector and sustains deeper relationships with arts and culture organizations. We know this manifests through volunteerism by retirees who have time, energy and experience to bring to an organization. It also reflects in current and legacy financial support. 

This is a great opportunity for arts organizations to review programs, community engagement and education activities to more broadly include and appeal to this age group. It is an opportunity to be more intentional in providing culturally enriched programming for this age cohort.

Blog Posts & Video
Two recent posts I read provide interesting background on the topic – a series of conversations organized by Barry Hennius and a Huffington Post commentary on a US conference organized by Aroha Philanthropies. There is a particularly charming short video clip titled ‘The Wall’ on the Aroha Philanthropies website.

This intersection between aging and the arts can be a a great opportunity for arts organizations and the patrons who participate, attend and support. As one of the posts concluded –..”Happily, growing older is looking a lot more promising, interesting and even exciting.



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