Arts and Aging – Focus by Ontario Arts Organizations
December 01, 2016
It has been an uplifting experience over the past months to discover how many Ontario arts organizations offer community outreach initiatives intended to enhance the quality of life / wellbeing of older individuals.
The range of programs cross all arts disciplines – dance, visual arts, music, theatre – providing access for people who may be increasingly unable to attend regular performances or exhibitions.
Why do this?
A growing body of research indicates that participation in arts activity is an effective way to improve health, intellectual stimulation and physical wellbeing of aging people. Research indicates:
Singing improves mental health and wellbeing –
Dance classes boost cognition, motor skills, balance, posture
Playing an instrument has benefits, including reducing dementia risk
Visual arts – viewing art, or art classes result in increased social engagement, psychological health and self- esteem
Ontario arts organizations
Examples of Ontario arts initiatives focused on the aging include, Dance Classes for People with Parkinson's – regular classes offered by the Canada’s National Ballet School. Jazz FM and the Alzheimer Society jointly offer a Tuesday morning program – Music Memory to highlight the importance music has on those suffering dementia. In Ottawa, MASC's Programs for Seniors brings professional artists in all disciplines to seniors in homes, centers and hospitals. Seniors in the Studio, a visual arts program offered by the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery stimulates the senses and mind through hands on art activities and dialogue with artists.
Benefit to artists as well
In addition to the benefits to participants, this kind of initiative benefits the artists as well as they see the opportunities to apply their creative skills in new ways. All together, these are marvelous initiatives that reconcile arts and culture with wellbeing in society.