Creative Aging TN Hosts Workshops in Nashville, Jackson and Knoxville

By Suzanne Lynch, Director of Marketing and Development –

creative aging
Geary Moore entertains during the networking time at the Nashville workshop.

On June 12 and 13, the TN Arts Commission, in partnership with fellow Tennessee Livability Collaborative Members — TN Commission on Aging and Disability and the TN Department of Health, offered three half-day workshops. Monday morning’s workshop was held in Nashville at the FiftyForward Donelson Station and the Larry Keaton Theatre, and Monday afternoon’s workshop was held in Jackson at the Southwest Area Agency on Aging and Disability. Tuesday’s workshop was held in Knoxville at the O’Connor Senior Center. We would like to thank each of these centers for hosting us and ensuring that each workshop was a success.

We were very excited to have as our featured speaker, Jennie Smith-Peers, Executive Director of National Center for Creative Aging. Jennie is a national leader in supporting capacity building, cutting-edge research, and public policies for older adults in the arts. Her presentation took a look at the national perspective on creating aging and what other states were doing. TN Commission on Aging and Disability, TN Department of Health and TN Arts Commission then presented on the state perspective and what was happening in their agencies.

creative aging
Attendees participate in an icebreaker.

In Nashville and Jackson, Anna Lea Cothron, Aging Commission Liaison presented on behalf of  the TN Commission on Aging & Disability, and  Sally Pitt, Patient Care Advocate presented on behalf of the TN Dept. of Health. In Knoxville, Jim Shulman, Executive Director presented on behalf of the TN Commission on Aging & Disability, and Erica Wilson, Community Services Director, presented on behalf of the TN Dept. of Health.

Anne B. Pope, Executive Director presented for the TN Arts Commission. We would like to thank those individuals and organizations that submitted their information to be included on the TN Arts Programming for Seniors webpage under the Creative Aging TN webpage. Your input allowed Anne to showcase the work already being done across the state in creative aging.

The presentations were followed by a group discussion. Each table was labed with one of four outcomes:

  • Health and wellness through the arts;
  • Connecting older adults to their communities through the arts;
  • Lifelong learning and engagement through the arts;
  • Increased positive attitudes/perceptions about aging through the arts.

The table facilitator asked three questions:

  • What programs for seniors, related to this outcome, are in your community?
  • How can the arts be used to enhance, expand, or create an opportunity for seniors in this outcome area?
  • What is needed to implement/accomplish this opportunity in your community? What barriers exist?

We collected the feedback and look forward to sharing it soon.

Creative Aging
Participants in Knoxville working on their group activity.

The meeting ended with Kim Johnson, TN Arts Commission Director of Arts Access expaining the new grant opportunity. A one-time funding opportunity called Creative Aging TN, the initiative will provide one-time seed funding for innovative projects through the arts that will promote healthy aging of seniors and encourages community partnerships that have the potential for sustainability. Successful projects will encourage senior creativity, physical activity, and/or community engagement through the arts. Outcomes can include using the arts for improved health and wellness; lifelong learning; reduced isolation and increased social and community connections; and/or increased positive attitudes/perceptions about aging.

We would like to thank our amazing entertainers for their sweet music at the begining of each workshop: Geary Moore (Nashville,) Kenneth Jackson (Jackson,) and Dan Gammon (Knoxville.) Thank you also to Theresa Montgomery from State Photography Services and West TN photographer, Greg Cambell for covering the events.

Lastly, the TN Arts Commission would like to thank the Commission on Aging and Disability and the TN Department of Health for their partnership. We look forward to working with the team on this exciting and important initiative.


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