An Encore for Cleveland Artists

Heard of Encore Cleveland? It’s an effort to to channel the time, energy and talents of experienced Clevelanders into solving community challenges and filling unmet needs. Encore Cleveland opportunities abound in many areas, from entrepreneurship and education to arts and culture.

Take the Encore Artists program at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, where last year a group of artists aged 50 and older met for a two-day Encore Artists training to learn how to apply their skills when working with an older adult population.

After training, the artists were matched with host sites, which include nonprofit and public senior centers, recreation centers, senior housing sites, adult day programs, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located within the city of Cleveland.

The Encore Artists program was designed to expand the availability of visual and performing arts activities to older adults currently without or with limited access to the arts. Research shows older adults experience improved health and quality of life by participating in professionally led arts programs. The Encore Artists program enables participants to experience those benefits, while at the same time, helping the participating artists begin Encore careers.

At Goodrich-Gannett Neighborhood Center, Encore Artist Linda Thomas Jones led a drum circle with participants. One gentleman in attendance initially grumbled about the activity and refused to participate. As the activity progressed, however, he joined the drum circle, and revealed that he had been a professional musician. “The program got him re-engaged with music and re-engaged with the world,” noted Sally Winter, who administers the Encore Artists program for Benjamin Rose.

Encore Artist Kathie Dice shared an improvisation activity with the Rose Center for Aging Well at King Kennedy, giving a modern spin to the biblical story of the nativity.

King Kennedy resident Betty Bird noted, “Some people were feeling sad and blue. It was good to have something to make you happy. You have to have something to look forward to.”

“I would like more programs like this,” added resident Vera Brown.

At May Dugan Center, Encore Artist Ann Kuula, a retired art therapist, brought her collection of drums from around the world and gave a short, informative lesson on the use of drums for entertainment, spiritual, healing and other purposes. She then led participants in an activity to make their own drums from oatmeal cylinders and other round containers.

“I would never make this alone,” said Marilu Blechschmid, holding up the drum she was creating. “I feel comfortable here. It’s nice coming here.”

Encore Cleveland offers many opportunities for individuals who want to get involved. To learn more about our partners and how you can participate, contact us [email username=”encore” link-text=”via email”].

Photo © Encore Cleveland; Resident Nancy Dier tries out a drum in an Encore-led drum circle.