Editor’s note: This Program Model is part of a series highlighting the work of the Lifetime Arts Affiliates, a cohort of 20 libraries that has been working with Lifetime Arts Inc. to launch professionally conducted arts education for older adults. For more information, check out Lifetime Arts' Creative Aging Toolkit for Public Libraries, a free online resource for librarians that provides information about creative aging research, best practices, and practical advice for planning and implementing creative aging programs.
BPL first introduced creative aging programs to older adult patrons in fall 2012 as a partner in the “Creative Aging Public Libraries Project,” a signature program of Lifetime Arts Inc. Since its launch, Creative Aging has become a core program among BPL’s services for older adults, providing much needed structured opportunities to learn, create and socialize.
Over the past three years, BPL has offered 51 creative aging cycles and served 870 seniors. (View photos of the series from the Photo Slideshow at right.) In each series, students learn the basic elements of an art form (such as Chinese brush painting and pottery), complete short artistic exercises and work on long-term projects. Classes are designed for students with little or no experience in the art form, but they’re equally relevant to students at advanced levels. Each series usually lasts 8 to 12 sessions, with each session lasting at least 90 minutes. Every program ends with a culminating event in which participants showcase their work to family, friends and neighbors.
More than 800 Brooklyn seniors have learned to draw, paint, sing and write poetry thanks to its creative aging programs.