Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Successful Creative Conversation About Arts and Aging!

“Art is a safe place to live dangerously.”
~ Sheila Zagar
The Arts for All Ages: A Creative Conversation
May 20, 2010

Candice Thompson, William Way Community Center; Suzanne Hayward, CAAN Board & Community Arts Center; Meaghan Brown, CAAN President & United Way of Southeastern PA

The Arts for All Ages: A Creative Conversation is part of Celebrate Arts and Aging, the month-long festival presented by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance in honor of Older Americans Month May 2010

William Way Community Center was such a wonderful space to enjoy all the creative energy, new connections and reunion of great friends.

The evening began with networking, food and wine while we all enjoyed the music of  88 year old violinist, Eric Olson. Eric learned to play the violin when he turned 50. Eric was a carpenter, house builder, welder and steel worker through the years. When his children were in college, he found a retired violin teacher and has been playing and learning the violin ever since. He has played in a civic orchestra, was part of the Fiddlers of Rhode Island for 15 years and now plays with the Joyful Noise Singers. Eric continues to search for more opportunities to play his violin.

Then Sheila Zagar really got things moving! Sheila is a choreographer and performer, an instructor of dance, exercise and physical therapy and a CAAN member. She has worked in the Philadelphia Arts and Aging field for 26 years transforming the emotional and physical well being of older adults through dance and storytelling. For the last 19 years she has been creating Dance/ Theater works with older adults. Sheila’s work empowers the body, which taps into the wellspring of creativity, uplifting and healing the body, mind and spirit. In this place the possibilities for change are limitless and extraordinary transformations occur.

Jan Michener is a professional actress and a teaching artist with the Philadelphia Theatre Company and Philadelphia Young Playwrights and a CAAN member. She facilitates hands-on interactive theatre and playwriting workshops with older adults and high school students. Since 2005 Jan has facilitated a weekly Living History Storytelling Project at the Kennett Area Senior Center (KASC) and is facilitating a 10 session Guided Life Writing Workshop at the KASC. Jan was director of the Philadelphia Senior Center’s (PSC) theatre group 2008 - 2009, wrote and directed three plays with the PSC drama group, and is a member of Second Circle Intergenerational Theatre Company, an improvisational company which explores social action and building community.

Benita Cooper is a Harvard-trained architect with a soft spot for seniors and another for words. In addition to leading a full service architectural and interior design firm, she is the founder, director of a multimedia and multigenerational storytelling
project with a rapidly growing physical and digital network and author of the blog The Best Day of My Life So Far. Her work with older adults from the Philadelphia Senior Center is inspired by her friendship with her grandmother, which she is currently writing about in a narrative nonfiction. The working title of the book is Po Po and Ling Ling. For more information, please visit Benita's website.

Stacie Brennan is the Education Director at Main Line Art Center and a CAAN Member. During her six years of working at the Art Center, she has helped to develop a variety of new visual arts education programs and opportunities for community engagement including the expansion of the Art Center’s outreach offerings to diverse audiences. She is currently completing an M.S. Education from the Museum Leadership Program and is focusing her thesis studies on how Community Art Centers can provide more inclusive creative experiences for individuals with and without disabilities.

Philadelphia-based artist Lindsay Sparagana teaches photography at The University of the Arts and works extensively in the Philadelphia arts community. In 2008 and 2009, she received the NewCourtland Artists Fellowship through The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. In 2010 she spent two weeks in La Carpio, Costa Rica teaching arts and crafts and painting a mural with the local children. Sparagana works with both traditional and digital photographic processes. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally.

Meaghan Brown moderated the evening's panel. Meaghan is the Community Impact Manager for Healthy Aging at the United Way of Southeastern PA, and is the President of the Creative Arts & Aging Network. With a Masters Degree in Gerontology, Meaghan was previously the Director of two Adult Day Centers providing care for adults with functional and physical impairments in Dealware County. Prior to her work in the Philadelphia region, Meaghan created an accessibility program for the National Gallery of Art and spent several years working with low-income older adults in Tucson, Arizona.

...and a good time was had by all!

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Thanks! Mary Catherine Dabrowski