“As the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence continues to work to improve the overall health of our community, we recognize that the arts have a vital role to play in achieving our goals,” said Jeff Polson, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Executive Director.
The announcement was made during Fund for the Arts’ thought leadership series with 2016 MacArthur Fellow Anne Basting who is recognized as an international leader in arts and aging. engAGE Arts seeks to build a stronger community by engaging older adults and youth in arts-rich initiatives that promote the capacity to function across many domains — physical, functional, cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual — to one’s satisfaction and in spite of one’s medical conditions. Creative engagement has shown to have positive effects on general health, age related cognitive functioning, balance, mental health, use of medications and overall well-being of older adults and academic and social-emotional development in youth (Castora-Binkley, Noelker, Prohaska, & Satariano, 2010; Catterall, Dumais, & Hampden-Thompson, 2012).Additionally, programs focused on connecting youth and older adults in meaningful relationships have shown to help break down generational stereotypes and create rewarding experiences for both young and older generations (Larking, Sadler, & Mahler, 2005).
“This is new territory for our community with a transformative grant program that partners an arts nonprofit, private foundation, and leading university research center to measure the impact of the arts on participants’ health and well-being,” said Kat Abner, Fund for the Arts Impact Officer.
EngAGE Arts will engage 128 participants in arts experiences, measuring the impact of the programming on the participants’ health and well-being. Participants in the study will come from two populations: older adult veterans and high school-aged youth. Participants will be recruited from local aging care facilities and veterans’ groups as well as from Central High School. Frazier History Museum, Kentucky Shakespeare, and KMAC Museum will lead the participants in arts activities. Project goals include addressing the needs of older adults and youth in Greater Louisville community through advancing the policy, practice, and quality use of the arts as tools for improved health and wellness, raising visibility, understanding and support of the use of the are in the promotion of health, and demonstrating the use of the arts as a tool for health.
“We are dedicated to bringing about a new vision of aging where individuals and society are able to approach aging as an opportunity, not as a disease,” said Anna Faul, Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging Executive Director. “The arts are an untapped resource for promoting health that demand to be explored further.”