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- SU-CASA needs a single entity charged with providing administrative support to the City Council, DCLA, and DFTA, as well as the borough arts councils, cultural organizations, and senior centers implementing SU-CASA. No single office currently serves this function for the program as a whole, leaving several administrative functions unfulfilled. The office would have the following responsibilities:
- Coordinate both arms of the program: the grants to cultural organizations and the grants to borough arts councils to select independent teaching artists.
- Determine training needs for senior center staff, teaching artists, and administrators.
- Define required capacity for senior-serving organizations and disseminate that information.
- Standardize and publicize procedures for teaching artists and cultural organizations (timeline, application process, payment, reporting requirements).
- Provide guidance on budgeting and program costs.
- Ensure that all eligible senior centers and other senior-serving organizations understand the value and requirements of SU-CASA and the process for inclusion.
- Serve as the marketing hub.
- Encourage participation in a yearly self-evaluation component; DCLA can share individual site evaluations with arts councils and cultural organizations.
Selection and matching process
- Personnel from the City Council, DFTA, and DCLA should meet twice a year (before and after adoption of the city budget) to determine ways to expedite the selection process.
- Pay special attention to the matching process:
- Consult with senior center program directors and evaluate centers based on language, culture, choice of art form, facility, and schedule. Ensure that older adults have a voice.
- Seek teaching artists who speak languages besides English, as well as older artists, in both the recruitment and decision processes.
- Expect teaching artists and cultural organizations to have a planning meeting at the designated senior center and hold a demonstration class for center members.
- Establish a process for reassignment of teaching artists or cultural organizations after the planning meeting if the pairing is not feasible.
- Allow senior centers and teaching artists more time to prepare, promote, and run the programs. A longer start-up period would help teaching artists integrate the program into the center.
Programming structure and support
- Clearly define program structure options that go beyond current proposal and contract specifications. For example, splitting a residency into two distinct, shorter workshop series might make it easier for participants to attend consistently and could expand SU-CASA’s impact by attracting different students.
- Establish a structure to support senior-serving organizations in learning about the program options and selecting the right one for the situation.
- Provide ongoing support to artists and cultural organizations as they design and conduct the programs to promote best practices and establish a point of contact in case of questions or problems.