National Expansion of Vitality Arts

Vitality Arts (often called creative aging) programs provide older adults with a sense of accomplishment, improved wellbeing, connection with others and joy. They do this by inspiring older adults to learn, make and share the arts in an environment that sparks creativity, fosters friendships and builds community.

Since 2016, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy has underwritten five major national programs to expand Vitality Arts programs.

Seeding Vitality Arts

We launched Seeding Vitality Arts, a multi-year initiative, in 2016. Using a learning cohort model, we equipped 50 grantees from Anchorage to Puerto Rico with all the tools and funding needed to create highly successful programs. E.A. Michelson Philanthropy’s partner, Lifetime Arts, provided intensive training and technical assistance to the grantees. Touchstone Center for Collaborative Inquiry developed an evaluation protocol that revealed successful program outcomes.

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American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums commissioned a major report entitled “Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthful Partnership,” which was released in 2021. The report calls on museums of all kinds to develop creative aging programs and combat ageism as “a strategic and ethical imperative.” AAM convened a national conference on museums and creative aging and shared extensive case studies of successful programming by museums. AAM’s initiative was funded by E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.

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National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Also in 2021, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies launched a separate national initiative in creative aging. With financial support, NASAA awarded $1,457,000 in grant funding to 36 state arts agencies across the country to grow their creative aging programs, practices and partnerships.

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Untapped Opportunity: Older Americans & The Arts

This groundbreaking Culture Track report provides new data on people over 55 years of age. It reveals older adults’ priorities in engaging with the arts: opportunities to belong, to learn something new and to feel a sense of accomplishment. This report challenges arts and cultural organizations to recognize something that has been hiding in plain sight—an enormous opportunity to develop and deliver quality programs of relevance to the fastest growing segment of our society.

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National Guild for Community Arts Education

The National Guild for Community Arts Education launched a multi-year program, Catalyzing Creative Aging, which champions the development of creative aging programs. With our support, creative aging has become one of the Guild’s core programs, ensuring that the work will continue far into the future.

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Together, We Create!

To date, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy has seeded Vitality Arts programs in 50 nonprofit organizations working in three learning cohorts across the United States from Alaska to Puerto Rico. The 221 programs offered by grantees in the first two cohorts involved 2,836 participants and employed 135 teaching artists.

Meet Our Grantees

“They’re only crayons. You didn’t fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now?”

— Hugh MacLeod