Innovative Crossroads: The Intersection of Creativity, Health, and Aging

Colin Pekruhn

September 2013, 9 pages. Grantmakers In Health, 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 452-8331,


   Innovative Crossroads: The Intersection of Creativity, Health, and Aging (221 Kb)

By 2030, national health care spending is expected to increase by about 25 percent, largely because of the increased number of older Americans. In order to cope with this enormous influx of older people, new adaptations and innovations will be required to meet their health and wellness needs. A field that is gaining increasing attention for its promise to improve the health and well-being of older adult populations is the arts. This is an area many health funders have not necessarily considered in the past, but a small and growing number of funders recognize the benefits of working at the intersection of the arts and health. Partnerships between these different spheres may have the potential to yield great benefits. The MetLife Foundation has taken a particular interest in this approach, breaking down silos between their own health and cultural program areas and funding a number of projects to promote the arts in health and aging.

One program in particular has worked to help make connections between the arts, health, and aging. The Grantmakers Partnership Project, an initiative launched in 2010 and administered by the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), has been funded by the MetLife Foundation to create an infrastructure for resource development through partnerships with public and private funding agencies, focusing on grantmaker affinity groups, government agencies, the private sector, and national service organizations. This initiative brings together Grantmakers In Health (GIH), Grantmakers In Aging (GIAging), Grantmakers in the Arts (GIArts), the NCCA, and the Global Alliance for Arts and Health (formerly the Society for the Arts in Healthcare) to educate their members about the benefits of the arts in aging and health care environments, to give funders tools to identify and support promising programs, and to generate more funder interest and support for programs.

The initiative has met a number of important milestones over the past three years. Funders have been exposed to a number of expert presentations and roundtable sessions, ranging from webinars to sessions at national conferences. The project has also hosted a number of funder and expert meetings, including two regional issues forums, held in Arizona and New York City, to discuss the critical needs of the field and best practices. A national Thought Leader Forum was also convened in Washington, DC, which resulted in a set of recommendations to encourage additional funder support of the field. Building on this earlier work, GIH, in close collaboration with the NCCA, GIAging, GIArts, and the Global Alliance for Arts and Health, convened a one-day national funder strategy session in Washington, DC, that was preceded by two introductory webinars for health funders and a session at the 2013 GIH annual meeting. The strategy session, Innovative Crossroads: The Intersection of Creativity, Health, and Aging, brought together a select number of health, arts, and aging grantmakers invested in the field along with national experts to explore and discuss:

  • how creative expression can improve health outcomes for older Americans,
  • promising programs,
  • challenges facing funders in supporting programs, and
  • opportunities for funders to advance programs and the field as a whole.

This paper is a summary and synthesis of the information presented at the national funder strategy session, the topics and issues examined and considered, and the recommendations that emerged from the day’s discussion.