“There is a fountain of youth; it is your mind, your talents,
the creativity you bring to your life and the lives
of the people you love. When you will learn to tap
this source, you will have truly defeated age.”
Creative Aging and the Arts (Part One)
The creative arts should be, to me, flexible and adaptable. Embracing new concepts, moving along with the social/economic/political spectrum, can allow new discoveries as well as keep things afloat. What good is it if you master your art, stick to that one idea, but the times have left you behind?
Arts administrations need to do the same, as the economic landscape has changed so drastically in the last five+ years. A new, or renewed, interest in Life Long Learners can be key in keeping organizations going well past the base of the school ages that many focus on.
What was inspiring to me was participating, through OPERA America, a section of the Open Opera Conference: Creative Resurgence. Opera companies are looking at involving the older adult population in more ways than just filling seats. A number of opera companies from across the US and Canada attended this day long workshop/program on Creative Aging, with many of them already utilizing interactive, participatory programs.
Storytelling is one of the primary arts disciplines that seems to be in wide use: delving into true life testimonials, musical works have been formed, from revues to full mini-operas. Being part of the creative process, the participatory input ranged from storytelling and writing to either performing the work or having professional singers enact their life stories. The librettos ranged from true life to fictionalized non-fiction.
In Creative Aging and the Arts (Part 1), I spoke about our morning session with Ms. Susan Perlstein, an advocate for the creative aging movement, and is the Founder Emeritus for the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA). In the afternoon two groups shared with the assemblage two recent projects that had just been completed: the pilot project I did with my musical collaborator Zach Redler for OPERA America, and Opera North’s latest operatic collaboration with an elder population.
Presentation: Transitions: Sung Stories
Opera North, Inc. worked with NewCourtland (a service for older adults) to produce Transitions: Sung Stories. Gathering oral history from Philadelphia, PA elders, Jules Tasca (Librettist) and Leslie Savoy Burrs (Composer and Executive Director of Opera North, Inc.) created a moving story that stemmed from the real life interviews.
Relating the details of the process to the group, both Mr. Burrs and Mr. Tasca laid out a professional program that produces positive results. In a video that showcases Mr. Burrs, we got to obverse how he interacted with a group of physically challenged elders. Working with a variety of percussive instruments, the participants helped lead Mr. Burrs, wielding a flute, to compose one of the pieces that became part of their opera.
What was apparent, watching the video, was how involved and engaged everyone was. No one just sat on the side, a spectator. This was a vibrant community coming together for a project that celebrates their lives, and also celebrates the worth they still have in the greater society.
In Part Three of Creative Aging and the Arts, I’ll be discussing the work that I had the pleasure to experience with our group as well as responses/reactions of the attendees from the full day seminar.
I am available for consulting on Inter-Generational Program Development
as well as Project Management/Facilitation
I am willing to travel or work over Skype with your organization
Please contact me at:
stuart.nager at gmail dot com