Arts for the Aging Programs

Since 1988, Arts for the Aging has been a pioneer in the design, development, and delivery of artist-led, multi-disciplinary, participatory arts programs that are specially designed to improve the health and enhance the quality of life of older adult groups, in community and residential care settings, who are living with mild to moderate physical and cognitive impairments, and who may not otherwise have access to these kinds of therapeutic life enrichment interventions due to affordability, availability and ability to use such programs.

Arts for the Aging was founded on a premise that studies, years later, now show: that regular participation in the arts by older adults helps to minimize aging-related physical and cognitive impairments, and contributes to better physical, intellectual and emotional health. AFTA’s service is comprehensive, diverse and flexible, allowing partners to focus on the delivery of safety-net services, activities of daily living, and occupational and physical therapies. By providing a frequent source for high-quality arts interventions, we offer reliable and cost-effective therapeutic innovations that minimize strains on health and economic resources, and maximize well-being and productivity of older adults.

We offer programming in 3 categories:

Joy in Generation

Older adults, including those living with health-related challenges, experience our signature one-hour arts sessions in small groups of about 20 in size. These experiences are self-contained: exposing participants to rotating artists and media each week, emphasizing physical and cognitive abilities, honoring changing needs, validating potential, integrating cultural richness and igniting socialization — all so vital to creating community and feelings of belonging.

Creative Aging Care Partner Training

Arts for the Aging offers training workshops for care partners and/or artists interested in the field of creative aging. The workshops, developed and led by Arts for the Aging staff and teaching artists, show how anyone can use the arts to connect more deeply with their loved one or client, regardless of their prior arts experience.

Teaching Artist Institute

To ensure the excellence of our artistic faculty Arts for the Aging hosts several trainings each year.

Are you a community-based or residential care setting serving older adults?

Let's Work Together

We serve and partner with many types of communities: adult day centers, community centers, senior centers, affordable housing centers, assisted living communities, nursing homes, museums, and cultural institutions.

Discover Our Teaching Artists

Arts for the Aging’s programs are fee-based. We do have limited opportunities for needs based financial aid. To help us determine whether you qualify, please fill out the form below.

Prospective Client Partner Application

Download Arts for the Aging's Program Guide:

A New Play for A New Day: Scenarios for Everyday Living

Teaching Artist: Marilyn Millstone
Disciplines: Theatre, Playwriting

In this spirited, engaging hour, we use the playwright’s tools of plot, character and motivation to craft scenarios about everyday living. These short comedies and dramas are designed to help participants approach life’s challenges in creative new ways.

Art for Everyone

Teaching Artist: Annetta Dexter Sawyer
Disciplines: Poetry, Drawing, Painting, Clay-sculpting

Everyone has a creative capacity. This program uses an interdisciplinary approach in artistic engagement to accommodate diversity, process, and enticement of participants to put their artistic expression in words, drawing, painting, and sculpture.

Art with Heart

Teaching Artist: Paula Cleggett
Disciplines: Visual Art

Common materials, compelling images, and craft tools are used as vehicles to stimulate and shape participants’ creative expression.  Passions, memories, and interests will be reflected in their artwork.  Self-expression and sharing among participants will be encouraged.

Connecting Through Creativity

Teaching Artist: Carol Siegel
Disciplines: Visual Art, Movement, Drama, Music, Writing

Using visual art, poetry, story and movement in various combinations, participants connect to their imagination, each other and themselves. They learn about poets and artists while engaging in discussions, writing collaborative stories and poems, and making individual art work.


Teaching Artist: Peter Burroughs
Disciplines: Singing, Theater, Music, Movement

Explore the world of opera with a professional tenor. Participants will experience musical selections and live performance from their favorite operas while learning about music, sharing stories, dressing in costume, moving to music and, of course, singing.

Creative Writing

Teaching Artist: Joan Hampton Fraser
Disciplines: Writing, Poetry

Poetry, literature and other writings of the day spark conversation and draw on life and cultural experiences as guides for developing poetry, stories and personal responses. Both individually and collaboratively, participants explore themes such as change, growing older, family, seasons, memories, loss, and new beginnings.

Dance and Blues

Teaching Artist(s): Miles Spicer, Nancy Havlik
Disciplines: Music, Guitar, Movement

Participants take part in interactive dance works, interspersed with music and stories about the history of the blues. All are encouraged to share in a celebration of life and mystery.

Dancing Our Stories

Teaching Artist: Nancy Havlik
Discipline: Movement

Experience the fundamentals of choreography in this interactive dance workshop for older adults. Starting with a physical warm up to enhance movement, alertness and discovery, participants will explore music, poetry, visual art and photography to awaken memories, connect to our individual movements, and to share story.

Digital Storytelling

Teaching Artist: Jason Horowitz, Jackie Steven
Discipline: Photography, Digital Media

This intergenerational program series pairs students with seniors to learn digital photography and videography with iPad technology while exploring artful techniques for capturing one another on film. The students interview the older participants about their lives and create a culminating video.

Drama: Language, Movement, Expression

Teaching Artist: Annetta Dexter Sawyer
Disciplines: Drama, Poetry, Movement

Through theater games, role-playing and reenacting scenes from favorite plays, participants will explore language and movement. In doing so they uncover new aspects of themselves while experiencing “being in someone else’s shoes”.

Free to Move

Teaching Artist: Sandra Roachford
Discipline: Movement

Using free form movement, participants create dances to reflect thought, emotion and memory, and that are enhanced by props that vary in texture, color and shape. The dance-making is a group effort, and there is observation and reflection on everyone’s creativity. Classical music and Big Band selections promote an atmosphere for reminiscence and ease of movement.

Giving Voices to Our Stories

Teaching Artist: Marilyn Millstone
Disciplines: Theatre, Playwriting

Through music, movement, poetry and spirited discussion, we explore topics of emotional significance to participants. This four-session program culminates in the creation of a short play that’s read aloud by participants and their caregivers in a community circle of support and respect.

Healing Movement, Healing Stories

Teaching Artist: Annetta Dexter Sawyer
Discipline: Movement

An energetic but gentle movement experience to lively music that encompasses health, well-being, and self-expression. Techniques include guided imagery, for better movement and expressiveness.

Imagine, Ignite, Improv!

Teaching Artist: Fairouz Foty
Discipline: Music

Music, movement, rhythm, song and lyrics can be infused into our daily lives.
Entering through the world of opera this program will encourage participants to conduct, rap, dance, sing and express through music, led by acclaimed Soprano Fairouz Foty.

Joy of Movement

Teaching Artist: Deborah Riley
Discipline: Dance

Playing with movement and expression while creating choreography. Using individual props of different textures and shapes, dancers will experience a variety of energy dynamics. Simple activities like singing combined with gesture alternate with more energetic movement, allowing for a customizable challenge level. This workshop will awaken your senses, increase your range of movement and ignite new friendships with peers.

La Movida (Music that Moves)

Teaching Artist(s): Peter Burroughs, Marla Bush
Disciplines: Movement, Music

Music and dance from Spain and Latin America come to life with dynamic performances and colorful costumes. Marla and Peter perform and encourage program participants to sing, move and dance with them, individually and with partners. Participants also use musical instruments and costumes for a festive atmosphere.

Looking Out Loud

Teaching Artist: Donna McKee
Discipline: Visual Art

By viewing artwork and sharing observations and responses, participants consider various ways that art reflects universal themes and life experiences. During this shared creative process, each person may express their own interpretation of artistic themes, ranging from the inner world conveyed by a portrait to the beauty and wonder of nature portrayed in landscape paintings from ancient China or desert scenes by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Marvelous Musicals

Teaching Artist: Joan Hampton Fraser
Disciplines: Movement, Singing, Theater

Experience some of the best-loved musicals of the 1940’s, 1950’s, and beyond, through historical overview, dramatic storytelling, spontaneous role play and singing along to songs from each musical.  Musicals includeSouth Pacific, Music Man, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Annie Get Your Gun, and others.

Movers and Shakers

Teaching Artists: Wall Matthews, Deborah Riley
Disciplines: Dance, Music

Create intoxicating rhythms on a wide variety of percussion instruments that make you want to move your body! While Wall Matthews leads an energetic drum circle, Deborah Riley encourages standing or seated movement. Sing along to favorite songs and participate in call and response singing. This program is guaranteed to invigorate participants physically and wake up their minds.

Moving Art

Teaching Artist(s): Donna McKee, Nancy Havlik, Anthony Hyatt
Disciplines: Music, Movement, Visual Art

Moving Art is a series of workshops centered around viewing and critiquing a theme in early 20th century art, such as “abstraction,” and the creation of artistic responses to selected works, through movement and gestural drawing.  They will explore those themes in music and dance using rhythm, space, shape, juxtaposition and energy evoked by the paintings.  Gestural drawing is used to discover can capture on paper the connection between movement and art.

Rhymes and Reasons

Teaching Artist(s): Lauren Boyle
Discipline: Poetry

Poetry holds riches of beauty and meaning.  In our workshops, we delve into these riches to discover what the poetic words, images and metaphors unlock for each of us.  In conversation about poetry, we connect to others and to our deeper selves, sharing our memories and meanings, the joys and tenderness of our lives.  We try our own hand at writing too, both together and individually, to rediscover our own creativity and ability to make beauty.

Rhythms of Life

Teaching Artist(s): Manny Arciniega, Chris Brown
Discipline: Music

Explore exciting rhythms from a variety of cultures with Chris Brown (bass player) and Manny Arciniega (percussionist). The musicians create musical landscapes using recorded loops and encourage participants to groove along with a selection of handheld percussion instruments.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Teaching Artist: Wall Matthews
Disciplines: Music, Dance

Explore drumming techniques from Africa on a variety of percussion instruments. These irresistible rhythms are then blended with popular music of the early to mid-20th century, and other favorite songs as identified by the participants. Dancing strongly encouraged!

The Art of Tango

Teaching Artists: Marla Bush, Rene Davila
Disciplines: Dance, Music

Learn how Argentine Tango emerged from a melting pot of music and dance from around the world from a professional tango instructor. Experience vivid tango performances and try for yourself the fundamental steps of tango.

The Shape of Things

Teaching Artist: Marcie Wolf Hubbard
Discipline: Art

Create original works of art using a variety of materials! Artist Marcie Wolf Hubbard guides participants in creating collages and memory boxes using “up-cycled” material such as post cards, paper scraps, fabric and jewelry.

The World of the Cello

Teaching Artist: Tobias Werner
Discipline: Music

World-class cello player Tobias Werner invites participants to take a closer look at the second largest instrument of the string family. Performance of pieces both classical and modern are interspersed with discussion about composers, music styles and periods, and the emotional reactions music inspires.