Creative Aging InitiativeOrganization Associated with Program
The Creative Aging Initiative, a project of the West Valley Arts Council (WVAC), conducts classes for older adults and provides services to the arts education field in the West Valley area near Phoenix, Arizona. Creative Aging Initiative classes meet once a week for one to one and a half hours over 12 weeks. Each semester there is an opportunity for participants to exhibit their work or present a performance based on their classwork. All classes are led by a professional teaching artist, and the program serves approximately 40 older adults each year.
WVAC was incorporated as the Cultural Arts Society West in 1969 and changed its name to the West Valley Fine Arts Council in 1989 to reflect a broader, more inclusive vision. It became the West Valley Arts Council in 2004. WVAC has been central to creating what is recognized as a high quality of life for West Valley residents, and it is the only multi-disciplinary arts organization of its type and scope in the valley. With the mission to “build audiences for all the arts, to drive arts policy forward, and to champion arts education,” WVAC created the Creative Aging Initiative in 2011 as a way to involve Arizona’s large retiree community in high-quality, arts-based programming.
This program has enabled WVAC to build strong community partnerships with local assisted living facilities and low-income housing complexes, reaching new demographic groups with high-quality, professionally conducted arts programs. WVAC also trains professional teaching artists to work with older adults enabling it to both serve this population and provide high-quality professional development
Each teacher creates a syllabus outlining the goals and objectives of the class, and classes are evaluated based on how well the syllabus is executed. Programs are evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout the session by West Council Art Council staff and related partner agencies by means of surveys, observation, and attendance numbers.
When developing an arts and aging program, do research. There are many great creative aging programs around the country. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.