The Kentucky Arts Council awarded more than $50,000 in grants to six organizations to provide “creative aging and lifelong learning” arts programs for Kentucky’s senior citizens. The Arts Access Assistance grants were created last fall to support programming for specific underserved groups. The first fiscal year of funding will support programs for the state’s senior citizens.
Twenty agencies applied for funding, and the Arts Council awarded funds to six nonprofits, including Louisville-based Kentucky Office for Refugees and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The Jewish Community Center of Louisville’s Accessible Arts project will receive $10,000 to diversify its curriculum.
“By culture, the Jewish people have always been supportive of arts, so we already had a very strong arts component to all of our senior programming,” says development and outreach director Lenae Price. “Hopefully, what we’ll be able to do is bring in some more seniors that haven’t been impacted by our programming in the past.”
Seniors are living longer and active lives, and Price says participants in their sixties don’t necessarily want the same programming as their older counterparts.
“There are two groups of seniors in our community. There are the Baby Boomers who are approaching 75 at this point and there are the younger seniors,” says Price. “Some of our older seniors are interested in things like book clubs. Some of our younger seniors are interested in things like silk painting. So while all of this is arts programming – you have your literature arts and then your physical painting on a canvas arts – we just want to make sure we can provide for both of those groups.”
Arts programming doesn’t only feed seniors’ creative sides. Price says dance classes, which can help seniors stay active and healthy, are also part of their plan.
“We’ve had limited dance classes in the past, obviously because mobility is an issue for seniors,” she says. “We’re going to bring in some professionals who have experience with both young and old to be able to offer classes at both skill levels.”
CenterStage, the JCC’s musical theatre, is one of its best-known outreach programs. Price says seniors have always been included as audience members, but her plans for the grant include more active involvement in the process of producing the shows – sitting in on rehearsals and engaging on a deeper level.
“ And we’re going to gauge their interest in creative writing programs, to get these seniors up on their feet and writing their own monologues and performing,” she says.
The Arts Council will award grants every year with an emphasis on a different underserved population.