NEA Releases Report on the Arts and Healthy Aging

Report Complements White House Conference on Aging Report
Cover of a research report, an image of an older man on stage playing guitar.
WASHINGTON – One in seven Americans is 65 or older, and that number will double by 2020. This monumental demographic shift calls for better resources to promote healthy aging. Today, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) release The Summit on Creativity and Aging, which offers recommendations for the public and private sectors, noting that the federal government is poised to take a leadership role in fostering change. “That conversation about ‘When do we ask mom for the car keys?’ is directly related to the need for better-designed communities for people as they get older,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The arts and design are significant solutions to promote health, wellness, and quality of life in older adults, and the public and private sector can work together to make that happen.”  The Summit on Creativity and Aging is a report on the May 2015 summit of more than 70 experts co-presented by the NEA and NCCA that preceded the July 2015 White House Conference on Aging. The report investigates three topics relevant to healthy aging: health and wellness and the arts, lifelong learning in the arts, and age-friendly community design. Among the report’s recommendations:
  • Work to eliminate ageism across all federal policies in the arts, healthcare, education, and community design.   
  • Federal funding of interdisciplinary research and collaborations to expand the evidence and in turn support funding and policy.
  • More federal incentives for the private sector. Develop private sector incentives to encourage the creation of high-quality programs and services in the arts and design to meet growing demand from people living longer, healthier lives in communities of their choice.
  • Collaborative public-private leadership among public and private arts, aging, health, and community service organizations can help expand evidence-based programs across healthcare systems and community services.
For more on the report recommendations and NEA resources on arts and aging, please see this fact sheet. A webinar to discuss the report takes place today at 3:00 pm ET and will be archived in the webinar section at Presenters include Beth Bienvenu, National Endowment for the Arts Director of Accessibility, Gay Hanna, Executive Director, National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), and Nora Super, Director, 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Since 1980, the NEA’s Office of Accessibility has helped build the infrastructure, research agenda, policies, and practices around arts and aging. About the National Center for Creative Aging NCCA’s mission is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging and to developing programs that build in this understanding. The process of aging is a profound experience marked by increasing physical and emotional change and a heightened search for meaning and purpose. Creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning. The arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience. About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit

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Sally Gifford NEA Public Affairs 202-682-5606