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Creative Aging


The Maine Arts Commission’s Creative Aging program is grounded in the belief that the arts play a powerful role in enhancing the quality of life of older adults. Designed to generate opportunities for lifelong learning, social engagement and mastery of skills, the program provides new creative possibilities for adults over 55.



Creativity is hardly the exclusive province of youth. It can blossom at any age—and in fact it can bloom with more depth and richness in older adults because it is informed by their vast stores of knowledge and experience.

—Dr. Gene Cohen, Geriatric psychiatrist


Dr. Gene Cohen’s pioneering research in the field of Creative Aging demonstrated the beneficial role creativity plays in the physical and mental health of older adults.  


Creative Aging

Partnership Program

CAP workshop participants in Presque Isle.
Photo courtesy of Pam Crawford. 

Interested in developing high-quality, participatory arts programs for older adults? Contact us about the Creative Aging Partnership Program. Up to $1,000 is available to fund teaching artists working with adults in a range of community settings including libraries, senior centers, arts organizations, and assisted- and independent-living centers.

Successful programs will:

  • Engage older adults in meaningful, creative activity and sequential learning
  • Incorporate creative aging principles of social engagement and mastery
  • Recognize the contributions of older community members
  • Promote intergenerational exchange
Grants are made to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations for artist fees and related expenses and must be matched on a 1:1 basis from other sources such as cash, in-kind or grants. Preference will be given to proposals which utilize teaching artists from the Creative Aging Teaching Artist Roster.
The next deadline for applications is April 21, 2016.

Before you apply, please contact Kathleen Mundell to discuss your project and the application process. or 207-287-6746. For more information about the application process, click here.


Creative Aging Teaching Artist Roster

This free online directory features Maine-based professional artists, trained in Creative Aging, who are available to conduct high-quality, participatory arts programs for older adults in a range of community settings including senior centers, libraries, assisted- and independent-living facilities, and cultural centers.

Click here to view the roster.

Interested in Being Part of the Roster?

The next deadline for applications is May 26, 2016.

Successful applicants will demonstrate:

  • Mastery of an artistic discipline
  • Experience in sequential arts instruction
  • Familiarity with the field of Creative Aging.
  • Good communication skills
  • Planning and organizational ability
  • Patience, resourcefulness and compassion

How to Apply:

Click here to download the Teaching Artist Application Form (document saves to the downloads folder on your computer). The application is a Word document. If you cannot open the file, please contact Kathleen Mundell.

If you have questions about the application, contact Kathleen Mundell at or 207-287-6746.


Additional Resources

National Center for Creative Aging

Lifetime Arts

Elders Share the Arts



Master artist Madeline Patenaude with
apprentice Peter Patenaude.
Photo: Victoria Patenaude



Acadian woodcarver Tom Cote with apprentices Ellyzabeth Bencivenga and Jessica Stackhouse (l to r). Photo: Peter Dembski

(l to r) Acadian woodcarver Tom Cote
with apprentices Ellyzabeth Bencivenga 
and Jessica Stackhouse.
Photo: Peter Dembski

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Creative Aging?  Creative Aging is the practice of engaging older adults (55+) in participatory arts programs, with a focus on mastery of new skills, social engagement and life review. Helpful links are just above, in the Additional Resources section.

What is a teaching artist?  A professional artist, who is dedicated to lifelong learning and arts education, has made it an integral part of his or her professional practice, and who has cultivated skills as an educator in concert with his or her skills as an artist. 

What is mastery?  The term 'mastery' means the development of a skill, technique or body of knowledge through practice, understanding and refinement.

What is sequential instruction?
  Sequential Instruction is participatory learning with each activity building on the one before it, usually increasing in difficulty or complexity.

What does social engagement mean?  
Social Engagement refers to active involvement with other people on both an individual and community level. Such opportunities enable older adults to make new connections, strengthen existing social networks and accomplish something of value and meaning.

Why do I need to have a six- to eight-week teaching plan?  
Adult learners are goal oriented and seeking challenging and creative learning experiences. Teaching sequential activities over this period of time encourages mastery of skills and social engagement with others.


For More Information

Kathleen Mundell, Creative Aging & Traditional Arts Program Director, at 
207-287-6746 or