Creative Aging at Brooklyn Public Library

Close-up of artwork created by older adults at a Creative Aging program at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Situated in an area of Brooklyn, New York, with a high concentration of seniors, the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library has made it a priority to provide meaningful programs and services to our older adults. Like many other public libraries during the economic downturn, we are faced with the challenge of decreased funding plus an increased demand for programs.

Thanks to Lifetime Arts we were able to provide a structured, sequential eight-week watercolor painting workshop in 2012. The workshop created the opportunity for seniors to explore the world of art and tap into talents that they didn’t even know they had. An added bonus was a sense of accomplishment that made them happier and healthier. Personally, I was so moved and touched at the culminating event—a beautiful art gallery displayed with each student’s work—because I knew some of the participants had no previous painting experience.

Based on the huge success of the program held last year, we applied again in 2013. This time, we are offering a vocal arts class. The eight-week “World of Music” workshop aims to engage participants through singing to improve their vocal skills, and to gain an understanding of the similarities and differences in music across cultural boundaries. Right now, we have finished half of the curriculum, and the feedback from the students is phenomenal. Many stated that the participation has not only expanded their musical horizons, but has also made them feel more confident. The workshop will conclude with a culminating performance for the public.

From the experience of hosting the two workshops, I am very grateful for the support I received from the Lifetime Arts. The guidelines, the research literature, templates for signup sheet, photo release forms, evaluations, surveys, etc., are very useful and professional, making the application process smooth and recruiting for students easy.

Editor’s Note: We’ll be highlighting Creative Aging programs in New York throughout April. To find out about the Creative Aging project and to read about programs in other libraries, visit the Creative Aging page.

Lifetime Arts and the ALA Public Programs Office will be presenting the preconference “80 is the New 30! Learn How Public Libraries are Delivering Proven, Inspiring and Transformative Arts Programs for Today’s Older Adults” at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Register for the Conference.