Thought Leader Forum on Arts and Aging

Location: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th Street Southwest, Washington, DC 20024
Contact: Janet Brown, Grantmakers in the Arts: (206) 624-2312 (office)
Sponsors: Grantmakers in the Arts – Grantmakers in Aging – National Center for Creative Aging


The Thought Leader Forum on Arts and Aging invites funders and thought leaders in the areas of aging and the arts to discuss and strategize how these two sectors will work together to support communities and individuals in the next decade as America's elderly population increases in record numbers.


9:00am Welcome
Overview: Why this meeting?
Where GIA & GIA are headed post today's meeting – report, conf sessions.
9:15am Introductions
Who we are & what we do
Of all we currently do in creativity and aging, of what are we most proud?
10:30am Break
10:45am Group exploration… with a break for lunch at noon
Framework: lifelong learning – community engagement and health & wellness:
  1. Where's the common ground?
  2. What could be the benefits of our respective sectors working together?
  3. What could be the consequences of not working together?
  4. In this greater effort to expand the vision of creativity & aging, who could be allies?
1:45pm Break
2:00pm Lay tracks for what's next
Given all we've discussed , what could be our smartest strategies & next steps?
  1. How can funders expand their vision to include creativity and aging?
  2. How can funders achieve greater collaboration in support of creativity and aging?
  3. What's within our reach now? What would it take?
  4. Together, what strategies could we pursue longer term?
3:30pm Summary and Close
4:00pm Adjourn

Resource List

Creativity Matters: Arts and Aging in America

By Gay Hanna and Susan Perlstein. Published in: Americans for the Arts Monograph, September 2008.
Arts and creativity programs provided by and for older adults are fast becoming accepted for their health, morale, and social benefit. This Monograph is intended to begin dialogue with the arts field about such programs by providing basic information on current trends and opportunities to integrate creativity and aging.

Age and arts participation: A case against demographic destiny

By Mark J. Stern. Published by the National Endowment for the Arts, 2011.
One of three new NEA reports looking at the NEA's Survey of Public Participation in the Arts data. Summary of three reports is available on the NEA website.

Above Ground: Information on Artists III: Special Focus on New York City Aging Artists

A study of 213 visual artists aged 62-97 was published in December, 2007. The study, conducted by Joan Jeffri and Douglas Heckathorn, found that most of the artists "demonstrated personal growth, creativity, self-efficacy, autonomy, independence, effective coping strategies...and also maintained extensive social networks."

Creativity and Aging

By Gene Cohen. Published in: GIA Reader, Vol 11, No 2 (Fall 2000).
Creativity and Aging was first presented as a keynote address at the Grantmakers in Health 2000 Annual Meeting on Health Philanthropy. Although it comes from another field, Cohen's talk is rich with references to artists and writers. It is published here with permission from both Grantmakers in Health and Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D.

Arts and Aging Resource Thought Leaders

Susan Perlstein, MSW
Founder, Elders Share the Arts & National Center for Creative Aging
Susan Perlstein founded NCCA and, in New York, Elders Share the Arts. She is an educator, social worker, and artist. Perlstein has served as a consultant for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Board of Education and presents regularly to organizations on a national level. Perlstein was the recipient of the Cavanaugh Award for Excellence in "Creativity and Aging" training, and served on the American Society on Aging Board of Directors. Writing extensively on creativity and life-long learning, Perlstein's articles appear in numerous professional journals. She is the author or co-author of several books: Alert and Alive, Generating Community: Intergenerational programs through the Expressive Arts, and Legacy Works: Transforming Memory into Visual Art.

Maria Genné, MSEd
Founder & Artistic Director, Kairos Dance Theatre
Maria Genné is Artistic and Executive Director of Kairos Dance Theatre, an intergenerational dance company, and Creator and Director of The Dancing Heart-Vital Elders Moving In Community, an artist-led pioneering, national award-winning, evidence-based dance, theater, music, and story arts program that is transforming the lives of frail elders. Genné is also Founder of Young Dance, a young people's dance company. She has choreographed and performed more than 60 works throughout the U.S.

Joan Jeffri
Professor, Director and Founder of the Research Center for Arts and Culture and Director of the graduate program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University
Professor Joan Jeffri is Director and Founder of the Research Center for Arts and Culture and Director of the graduate program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Author of several books about the management of arts organizations, she has a particular interest in the care and survival of artists. Jeffri recently completed the first study of aging artists in New York City: Above Ground: Information on Artists III—Special Focus Aging Artists. She has served on a national task force for health care and insurance issues for artists for the National Endowment for the Arts, has served as President of the Board of the International Arts-Medicine Association, and is on the Advisory Board of the Cultural Policy and National Data Archive at Princeton University.

Donna M. Butts
Executive Director, Generations United
Since 1997, Donna M. Butts has served as the Executive Director of Generations United. She has more than 30 years experience working with non-profit organizations at the local, national, and international levels. Over the years she has held leadership positions for many youth development organizations including the YWCA, Covenant House, and the National 4-H Council. Prior to joining GU, Donna was the Executive Director of the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention.

Robert H. McNulty
Founder and President, Partners for Livable Communities
Robert H. McNulty, founder and president of Partners for Livable Communities, is known primarily for persuading local officials to view public and private partnerships as a resource for revitalizing cities in the Americas. He has a distinguished background in design and planning, serving in 1973-74 a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and as lecturer, adjunct professor, and acting Director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Columbia University's School of Architecture. He formerly sat on the Alumni Council of Harvard's Graduate School of Design. For the past 30 years, Bob has led Partners to become the national leader on issues of livability and better communities. A network of over 1,000 organizations ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to the Urban Land Institute, Partners embodies the diversity and consensus building needed in the recovery of the American city.

Donna Phillips-Mason
Vice President of External Relations, National Council on Aging
Donna Phillips Mason is the National Council on Aging's Vice President of External Relations and, over a ten-year history with NCOA, she has been responsible for strategic planning and partnerships and has led the development of NCOA's extensive community-based network of organizations and individuals. In addition to her work with NCOA, Ms. Phillips has also served as Director of Public Private Partnerships for the Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services and Director of Community Relations for Asbury Services/Asbury Methodist Village.

Arts and Aging Thought Leader Forum Planning Committee

Janet Brown, Grantmakers in the Arts, Seattle, WA
Rohit Burman, MetLife Foundation, New York, NY
Rose Ann Cleveland, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Washington, DC
Barbara B. Dillon, Metlife Foundation, New York, NY
Carol Farquhar, Grantmakers in Aging, Dayton, OH
Kathy Freshley, Washington Grantmakers, Arlington, VA
Gay Hanna, National Center for Creative Aging, Washington, DC