Ohio Arts Council

Ohio Arts Council

The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) is committed to facilitating and supporting meaningful, person-centered arts experiences with older adults that support learning and mastery, individual creativity, community building, and social engagement.

Creative Aging Profile


The Finnish Heritage Museum is located in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, and is dedicated to preserving Finnish and Finnish-American history and culture. Last year, the museum put on a successful, age-inclusive theatre production that engaged the entire community. This year, they’re producing 30 short plays inspired by themes related to family ancestry and Finnish culture that will be performed in about 60 minutes. Most participants are seniors and the process has given older adults the opportunity to work with people of all ages to write and perform their pieces.

“We’re not ready to close the door on the shaft in our minds and cease operation. There are still pearls of wisdom and golden nuggets to explore, and we’re ready to share them with the public.” – Lasse Hiltunen, Finnish Heritage Museum President.

Agency Initiative

The Creative Aging Ohio initiative is positioned to be a catalyst for creating conditions that allow the field of creative aging to thrive in Ohio. Older adults across our state will flourish as they renew and discover their purpose and talents expressed through individual creativity. The OAC is developing a new partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging to support hands-on arts experiences, based on best practices for adult learners.

“The graying audience phenomenon is an asset to be embraced, rather than a problem to be solved.” – Christy Farnbauch, OAC Innovation & Engagement Director


Program Highlights:

  •  In 2013-14, the OAC became one of 13 early adopting state arts agencies to join the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) in a first-of-its-kind community of practice initiative to support state arts agencies in developing infrastructure and programming in the arts, health, and aging.
  • During 2014-15, the OAC supported nine artists-in-residence in elder care facilities around the state. These residency experiments were focused on high quality, participatory art making activities in a variety of disciplines (music, creative writing, and visual arts). Each experience lasted two- to ten-weeks. Older adults, staff at the centers, and caregivers all received value from the experience.
  • For fiscal year 2016-2017 the OAC invested approximately $375,000 of state tax funding into a variety of demonstration projects taking place in arts organizations, senior centers, and other community venues where older adults gather. Funded organizations participated in a learning cohort throughout the year, which was a new model for the OAC.

Creative Aging Resources & Tools

FY18 Creative Aging Ohio Initiative

The Ohio Arts Council is interested in supporting organizations that will design and implement hands-on arts making experiences that are participatory, sequential, and sustainable for older adults (65+).

The Creativity and Aging Study

This study, led by Gene D. Cohen, MD, looked at the impact of professionally conducted cultural programs on the physical health, mental health, and social functioning of older adults. This was the first controlled study to assess whether participation in the creative arts, apart from traditional medical care, can promote healthier aging.

Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit

Designed for the arts and aging services fields, this resource explains why and how older adults benefit from participation in professionally conducted community arts programs and offers detailed advice and examples on program design, implementation, and evaluation.


screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-3-22-01-pm32 of Ohio’s 88 counties are designated as part of Appalachia by the federal government. Due to an underdeveloped infrastructure, and rural terrain, older adults in this area tend to be more isolated have more limited access to aging services than older adults living in urban and suburban areas. From 2010 to 2030, the percentage of Ohioans age 65 and older is projected to increase from 14% to 20% percent.



Photo of Donna Collins

Creative Aging Point Person

Donna S. Collins, Executive Director

Donna S. Collins became director of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) on July 1, 2014. Prior to leading the OAC, Ms. Collins served as the executive director of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) since 1998 and as the executive director of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA) and Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation (OCAF) since 2001. During her tenure, OAAE and OCA were recognized statewide and nationally for their success at increasing services to constituents, creating policy, and generating more funds for the arts.