Encore Artists project helps seniors explore the arts

Seniors in Cleveland will soon have a new outlet for creative expression, thanks to a new program through the Benjamin Rose Institute of Aging. The Encore Artists program pairs older adults with professional artists, art therapists and music therapists age 50 and older at various sites around Cleveland.
“I’ve been trying to find a way to bridge the art world with the aging world,” explains Linda Noelker, senior vice president at Benjamin Rose and Encore Artists project director. “Research shows that older adults, when they actively engage with the arts, it improves their health and quality of life.” In particular, she cites the fact that seniors with ailments like Parkinson’s disease who participate in dance have improved gaits, better balance and fewer falls.
Noelker approached the Cleveland Foundation about funding such a program. “I talked to the Cleveland Foundation and said, '[Why don’t we try to recruit artists and give them training in the arts with older adults?'” recalls Noelker.

The Cleveland Foundation agreed and is funding Encore Artists program, along with the Ohio Arts Council, as part of its Encore Cleveland program.

Noelker is currently recruiting art teachers, art therapists and music therapists to volunteer for the project. Selected artists will go through a two-day training in May and then be listed on a registry that details their experience and program interests. Artists must commit to providing 48 hours of programming in the next six months. Artists and can sign up through Benjamin Rose.

Noelker is also looking for community sites within Cleveland to host the project’s events. Ideal host sites are nursing homes, libraries, or recreation centers. Potential hosts sites can register here. For more information, contact Noelker.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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