- New York’s thriving arts scene is one of its defining characteristics and a cornerstone of its identity, bringing millions of visitors each year and attracting a steady stream of new residents.
- Desire to join the arts scene (whether as artists or audience members) was a central draw to NYC for many of the people now aging here.
- NYC is a global hub of artistic talent, creating a deep workforce to staff a wide variety of arts programs.
- NYC has a broad infrastructure for arts education, including its three library systems and its 250+ senior centers.
- Engagement with the arts brings older adults into contact with an essential part of the experience of living in New York City.
- Older adults’ participation can benefit arts organizations — with necessary funding and inspiration about a new audience — as well as the older adults.
- Strengthening the arts strengthens communities.
- Nearly 300,000 people were working in arts and culture in the city in 2013 — not counting those with a different day job (Center for an Urban Future, 2015).
- NYC is home to 18,000 for-profit cultural firms and more than 4,700 cultural nonprofits (Stern & Seifert, 2017).
- “Culture makes a difference in neighborhood communities by stimulating social interaction, amplifying community voice, animating the public environment, and shaping public culture” (Stern & Seifert, 2017, p. V-2).
- By promoting civic engagement, cultural resources may have spillover effects that contribute to well-being (Stern & Seifert, 2017).
Seniors in Motion
Some arts programs spring from unexpected sources. Detective Josie Ruiz, of the New York Police Department’s Community Affairs Bureau, has been on the lookout for ways to reach older adults across the city, including a twice-yearly luncheon called Aged to Perfection. She knew Pregones / Puerto Rican Theater from her childhood, and she stopped in one day to ask them what they do for seniors.
Pregones, which ran four SU-CASA programs in the Bronx in 2019, worked with her to start Seniors in Motion at the Frederick Samuel Community Center in Harlem. Each spring, a group of 4 to 10 participants create their own musical and build toward a performance, along the same lines as SU-CASA.
Detective Ruiz advertises with Spanish and English flyers in senior centers in Police Service Area 6, between 116th and 145th Streets. In the neighborhood, Community Affairs officers, who work to strengthen community relationships and trust, pick up participants and bring them to the program. If transportation were not an issue, she would love to draw people from across the city.