Missouri Arts Council

Missouri Arts Council

The Missouri Arts Council supports the arts that strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of our state.

Creative Aging Profile

The Missouri Arts Council believes that creative aging is important to engage older adults in their communities, sustain their creativity, and support their health and social vitality.

As just one of its initiatives to promote creative aging, the Missouri Arts Council coordinates Poetry for Life (PFL), a pilot project to join the skills and passion of the young poets of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, with elders at senior, assisted living and adult day care centers. In bringing the power of recited poetry to this underserved portion of our community we further the mission of the Poetry Foundation, “…to provide a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture and celebrate the best poetry and place it before the largest audience.”


Agency Initiative

Missouri Arts Council Strategic Plan

GOAL: Engage People in Meaningful Arts Experiences

A. Objective: Promote Lifelong Learning and Engagement in the Arts.

  • Support Arts intervention to improve health and well being among older adults.
    • Continue to develop relationships with groups, such as Missouri Coalition Celebrating Care Continuum Changes (MC5) and Saint Louis County Department of Human Services County Older Resident Programs (CORP).
    • Improve the availability, quality, and affordability of local programming and venues.
    • Organizational training – how to deal with the changing population, within audiences and volunteers In Senior Centers, Independent Living Centers.

B. Objective: Connect with diverse communities, heritage, lifestyle, and economics.

  • Continue to develop relationships with groups, such as Grupo Atlántico, Paula J. Carter Center on Minority Health and Aging, and Missouri Folk Arts Program.

C.  Objective: Develop engagement with digital creative cultural activity, computers, smart phones, and digital photography.

D.  Objective: Promote the sustainability of organizations presenting programs and improve access to funding.

Creative Aging Resources & Tools

Arts & Aging KC

A non-profit community arts organization serving as catalyst, convener, and connector for enriching lives through creative aging.  Through a partnership with Arts & Aging KC, an artist will be trained to work with the senior population in Kansas City.

Missouri Coalition Celebrating Care Continuum Changes (MC5)

The Missouri Coalition Celebrating Care Continuum Change (MC5) provides professional caregivers with educational opportunities throughout the year about person-centered care. Through a partnership with MC5, the Missouri Arts Council connects the arts community and the MC5 groups with roundtable discussions on how the arts help the goal of person-centered care. MC5 promotes and supports ongoing collaboration within the adult care continuum to create environments where the dignity and value of each individual who lives or works there is respected and celebrated.

Missouri Folk Arts Program

Established in 1984, The Missouri Folk Arts Program (MFAP) builds cross-cultural understanding by documenting, sustaining, and presenting our state’s living folk arts and folklife in collaboration with Missouri’s citizens.

St. Louis County’s Age-Friendly Community Initiative

This initiative cultivate a healthy, inclusive, and accessible St. Louis County for residents who choose to live here into retirement.

County Older Resident Programs (CORP)

As a collaborator in the St. Louis County’s Age-Friendly Community Action Plan, this program actively supports older adults and is a leader. The County Older Resident Programs (CORP) provides quality service to Saint Louis County residents age 60 and over.


Additional Creative Aging Resources

Maturity and Its Muse

The mission of Maturity and Its Muse is to promote positive, productive aging through the arts. In addition to outreach and collaboration with other arts organizations, this organizations puts together groundbreaking exhibits and activities spotlighting nationally recognized senior artists. They also create film, books and interactive media to raise awareness of and inspire participation of seniors in the arts.

Missouri University-STL

GERON 4720 Ageless Arts: Creativity in Later Life: 3 semester hours

This course examines how the lives of older adults are enriched through engagement in artistic, creative activities. Key approaches to creative aging are explored, with emphasis on benefits to physical health, emotional well-being, and interpersonal connection. Influencing factors are examined, including ageism, generativity, family and personal networks, environmental resources, sensory and cognitive deficits, and other health and physical changes of aging. The works of historical and current artists – painters, novelists, filmmakers, playwrights, musicians and others – are surveyed with an emphasis on products from later in the life course. Finally, the therapeutic benefits of creativity are examined through evidence-based research and the personal narratives of successful senior artists. Same as SOC 4720. Prerequisites: Junior/senior undergraduate or graduate standing, or permission of the instructor or program director.



The number of Missourians age 65 and older is projected to grow by some 450,000 over the next 15 years, bringing the total number of seniors to an estimated 1,255,000. The proportion of seniors in Missouri’s population was 13.5% in 2000 and 13.6% in 2008. By 2015 the proportion of Missouri’s population age 65 or older is projected to increase to 15.1%; by 2025, to 19.1%. Those proportions will be higher than the proportion of seniors in the nation overall. Missouri’s total population is 5,911,605. Between 2000 and 2008, the state sustained a slow but steady 5.4% overall growth. The state’s 65 and older population also grew relatively slowly during this period, from 755,837 in 2000 to 805,235 in 2008, an increase of about 6.5%

An important characteristic of the senior population is that women outnumber men. In 2008, nearly 70% of Missourians age 85 or older were women. That gender difference is projected to moderate somewhat in the next 15 years. By 2015, women are projected to be about 68% of the 85 and older population; by 2025, 65%.

Missouri includes counties that are urban, suburban or rural. That character greatly affects each county’s economy, culture and senior population. For instance, seniors in Missouri’s most rural counties, particularly those in northern Missouri, tend to be older and more reliant on retirement income than seniors in more populated areas. Seniors in Missouri’s metropolitan counties are more likely to have convenient access to health care, access to transportation, and participate in the workforce.

Image of Virginia Sanders

Creative Aging Point Person

Virginia Sanders

Virginia has been with Missouri Arts Council for 13 years, serving as the ADA coordinator for the last 8 years and the Creative Aging program coordinator for the last 4 years. She has created a network of partnerships with individuals and organization that provide services and arts programming for Missouri’s growing population of senior constituents.

In 2009 she presented the Award of Excellence from VSA National for her work with VSA Missouri. Virginia was also selected to represent Missouri at the National Summit on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In 2013 Missouri was chosen to take part in a nationwide initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the National Center for Creative Aging. Virginia was appointed to lead the initiative for Missouri to develop a plan for the Statewide Communities of Practice in Arts, Health, and Aging Initiative. In 2015 Virginia presented the intergenerational program of Poetry Out Louis/Poetry for Life with Gary Glazner, noted expert on Alzheimer and memory loss, at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC hosted by Senator Claire McCaskill.