“The number of Tennessee seniors age 65 and over is expected to almost double from 850,000 in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2030,” according to an April 2017 Tennessee Comptroller’s report on senior long-term care. To meet the growing demand for services to seniors, the Tennessee Arts Commission, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, implemented a new initiative called Creative Aging Tennessee. This partnership signals the beginning of government agencies coming together to solve community problems and using the arts to be part of solutions.

Three workshops were held during June in East, Middle and West Tennessee to inform communities about this initiative. Participants included artists, arts organizations, senior care centers, healthcare facilities, government organizations and others who share an interest in optimizing the participation of seniors in the arts. Jennie Peers-Smith, Executive Director for the National Center for Creative Aging delivered a keynote on national and state perspectives of aging.

Participants also learned about a one-time grant opportunity for innovative projects that promote healthy aging and encourage community partnerships. Successful projects will involve senior creativity, physical activity and/or community engagement through the arts. Project outcomes include using the arts for improved health and wellness; lifelong learning and engagement; increased positive attitudes/perceptions about aging; and connecting older adults to their communities. Grant awards will be announced later in the fall.

For more information, visit the Tennessee Arts Commission’s website at tnartscommission.org or contact Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access, at 615.532.9797, kim.johnson@tn.gov.