The "graying" of America -- being heralded by many as the second American Revolution -- promises dramatic changes in the field of aging. Arguably, one of the most profound changes is a new way of seeing older adults: moving from a "deficit" approach that stresses losses to an "asset" approach that stresses strengths, potential and achievements.  Dr. Gene Cohen, author of The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, asserts, "There is no denying the problems that accompany aging. But what has been universally denied is the potential. The ultimate expression of potential is creativity." It is Dr. Cohen's groundbreaking research that found a direct link between creative expression and healthy aging.  

NCCA was established as a program within Elders Share the Arts (ESTA) in 2001 by Susan Perlstein, MSW, through a partnership with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). NCCA incorporated as an independent non-profit and was established in Washington, D.C. in 2007 under the leadership of Gay Hanna, MFA, Ph.D.  Affiliated with George Washington University, NCCA worked closely with the Center on the Aging, Health, and Humanities under the auspices of Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., a leading researcher and physician on the forefront of the creative aging movement.  NCCA is a designated as a national service organization on arts and aging by the NEA.

In 2011, the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) moved from Columbia University to become a program of NCCA under the auspices of Director Joan Jeffri.  For over 20 years, RCAC has provided data and information in service of artists and the arts. RCAC conducts research on a broad range of topics in the arts, from cultural policy and public spaces to labor relations and the law. The Center convenes public events and provides curriculum development to educational institutions and leadership training to arts organizations and managers around the world.



NCCA-MetLife Foundation Creativity and Aging in America Initiative, 2012  
This initiative will establishes an online and onsite resource center for arts and aging programming, through a Leadership Awards Program, Technical Assistance Grants, and the Arts and Aging Speakers Bureau

Creativity Matters: Arts & Aging Core Training for Teaching Artists, 2011-2012
With support from the NEA, this pilot program trains teaching artists in three states to engage older adults in learner-centered arts education that draws on older adults’ life experience through story.

NCCA-Gerontological Society of America Gene D. Cohen Research Award in Creative Aging 2009– Present
NCCA-GSA announced the Gene D. Cohen Research Award in Creative Aging and its first recipient, the late Dr. Gene Cohen at the GSA Positive Aging Conference. 

NCCA-MetLife Creativity Matters Symposia Series, 2008– 2011
The NCCA brought together hundreds of professionals in the national and international arts and aging fields to learn about up-to-date research and best-practice programs in the fields of creativity and aging, inspiring participants to bring that knowledge to their own communities creating a positive and creative environment for older adults. 

NCCA Webinar Series, 2008—Present
The NCCA provided long-distance education on topics including: Research in Creative Aging; Best-Practice Programs; Resource Development and the Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD Legacy Webinar Series highlighting his extensive research in the creative aging.

Creativity and Aging Training Project, 2007-2008
NCCA conducted a 2-day intensive train-the-trainer pilot program utilizing the Creative Aging Toolkit at the Positive Aging Conference at Eckerd College in December 2007. The goal of the train-the-trainer program is to provide professional teaching artists with the knowledge and skills to increase quality and sustainable arts programs throughout the United States.

Creativity Matters: Arts and Aging Toolkit, 2007-2008
NCCA, in collaboration with the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, produced online and in print “Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit.” The Toolkit fosters the replication and access to successful arts programs for older adults within the community arts education field, to increase the number of older adult music makers, dancers, actors, painters and poets.

National Center for Creative Aging Headquartered in Washington, DC, 2007
NCCA made a strategic move, in partnership with The George Washington University’s Center on Aging, Health & Humanities, in Washington, DC, to reposition the organization in Washington, DC, during the summer of 2007.

National Conference on “Arts & Aging: Creativity Matters,” November 3-4, 2006
NCCA along with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center presented the first national conference focused solely on arts and aging. About 235 leaders, staff and volunteers convened at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, to address issues of older adults’ access to quality arts programs. Attendees included professional community-based artists, representatives of healthcare, aging, education and cultural organizations, foundations, corporations and government agencies from across the country.

The National White House Conference on Aging, December 12, 2005
In May 2005, NCCA co-sponsored the White House Mini Conference on Creativity & Aging led by the National Endowment for the Arts where key players in policy research, best practices and support convened at the blue ribbon mini-conference at the White House Conference on Aging.  The White House Conference on Aging produced the WHCoA Resolution 58 which focused on the beneficial impact that participating in the arts can have on older adults and their quality of life. Due to this, the NCCA had the opportunity to hold a reception, “The Art of Aging: Creativity Matters,” which featured artwork from more than 80 older artists from 20 states at the WHCoA.

Public Awareness Campaign, 2002-2005: “The Arts of Aging: Creativity Matters”
NCCA, The National Institute of Senior Centers and the National Association of State Arts Agencies collaborated to create “The Art of Aging: Creativity Matters, a public awareness campaign. Its purpose was to advance this new understanding of aging and the beneficial link between creative health and aging. Each network sponsored an “Art of Aging” campaign event, and the public
awareness campaign culminated with a national art exhibition of works produced by older adults at the White House
Conference on Aging.