Transcript: Summit on Creative Aging: Reports from Breakout Session 3 and Conclusions

BILL BENSON: Why don't we go ahead and convene and start here momentarily? I want to try to get all of you back in your seats. While we are gathering, I want you to give a big round of applause to Jenna who has plugged in after each of the breakout groups. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Really terrific job. We are now going to have the report out for the third discussion question of the afternoon about what are the most viable solutions the federal government can help with two overcome the barriers you identified and address the most important needs you identified earlier. Before we move into the breakout sessions, we are going to ask a closing question and we thought it might be good to post it now so you can think about it, and we will discuss a little bit of the end of the day. The question is, what is it you would like to see done? What can the NEA and NCCA do to keep the discussion going? We know there will be a report to the White House conference on aging, there will be a white paper, but what is the way to continue this dialogue post those events and the on? We will think about that and come back in a minute. Why don't we get into our reports? I will turn to Teresa Bonner who will speak on behalf of the lifelong learning group.


THERESA BONNER:  Hello, I am Theresa Bonner and I am the program's director for Aroha philanthropies and I am going to take this opportunity to thank Ellen for making sure I am here today with you. We had the best group. I just need to put this out there now. You guys are going to have such a hard time beating this. I know we were told three to five bullets, but our group was not going to be stopped at 3 to 5 bullets let's. For the first one, we would like the federal government to actively work to eliminate ageism across all federal policies. We think this is something they can take a leadership role in and should. We would like the federal government to catalyze increased public and private funding by convening funders and developing innovative funding models for lifelong learning and the arts. One example which Kim Carpenter brought up is the idea of a social impact fund. There are many funding mechanisms that could bring more money into this deal. The federal government, I know there is the interagency task force but we would like to see collaboration across federal, state, and local governments to collect data about this field, to map the ecosystem, who is doing what and where and what areas are not being served at all and do this in order to leverage the potential of successful programs in lifelong learning and the arts and improve every aspect of our existence. We believe the government could and should promote, fund and share programs that are equitable, things we talked about today, older adults at the center of learning that are diverse and represent very diverse constituencies that are successful and can be replicated. These programs are important that we continue to maintain an emphasis on quality and programs that are grounded in the work of professional teaching artists. Remember, those are the people who delivered the programs in the Cohen study, where the benefits were seen. We also think the government should promote and fund cost-effectiveness in outcomes research in lifelong learning in the arts. We realize they are doing it. We think they need to get behind us and lead it. We had some interesting specific ideas. Could there be a program that involves the Department of Education or another group that pairs programs for older adults and K-12 students that would strengthen the capabilities of both of those populations? Are there ways the government could be involved in that? We think the NEA specifically should reinstate an increase in funding to individual artists, including individual older artists in those programs as well as programs that support individual artists. Last, we would like to see the role of professional artists and teaching artists supported even more broadly than they are today. That is our story. [APPLAUSE]

BILL BENSON: Stay put. If anybody has questions or comments or seeking clarification, we have a hand up right here.

UNKNOWN: Can we expand the k-12 to k-16 or k-18?

BILL BENSON: Good idea.

THERESA BONNER:  We can. Look how quickly we can do that.

BILL BENSON: Other comments or thoughts? I think you are ready to go. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] Now we will turn to the health and wellness group with Michael Patterson coming up to offer the report.

MICHAEL PATTERSON: Thank you Bill. Michael Patterson with Mindram Consulting. Our group finished in the top three, I have to say. I feel inadequate to summarize this. We started out looking at the four recommendations that were listed in our notes, expand senior volunteer programs, launch NAH initiatives, expand the interagency task force and establish a national arts and culture research network. As we got into the discussion, we realized we had come out of a vital conversation about the barriers and as part of the discussion of the barriers, we began coming up with solutions. It's sort of fed into that. The discussion focused around barriers and we had these four. We looked at what we could do about these barriers and see whether they could fit into the first four categories and how that came together. One of the barriers was limited public interest and understanding. Some of the ideas that to came out, there was a suggestion that it would be great if the White House used its bully pulpit to infuse this whole idea in lot of other activities. The federal government can use its influence to get state, local and community organizations involved in getting word out and increasing public interest and understanding. Second is the failure to include the arts in the public policy debate. We reframed that. We wanted to strengthen the inclusion of all the stakeholders, so we are trying to make that more positive than negative and to include, to look at lots of different stakeholders and figure out who those stakeholders are and get them involved, leveraging programs that are already existing and see if we could use that activity. There was insufficient attention to models and methods and there's a lot of talk, there are a lot of good models. Part of it is figuring out how we get more information about the good models out there. I am hoping those of you in the session will chime in and flesh this out little bit. Insufficient funding is always the case. There was a point made by some of the folks at NIH and other folks that it's not useful if people come to them and say please fund my program. What is much more useful is that people come with creative ideas and sit down and have conversations about here is my idea and work with the program managers from the inception and make it more of an iterative and creative process going forward. I hope people in this section can chime in and flesh this out a little bit.

LINDA NOELKER: Linda Noelker, Benjamin Rose Institute. I think from my perspective, the difference of the last session compared to the prior to was in the last session, we were far more concrete with specifics and there were suggestions rolling along about which agency should be doing what and for whom and how they can work together. At the end of the session, my hope is the staff from the national endowment for the arts will have some way of getting into the transcription and analysis and have us review to make sure it is from our memory and is complete and accurate. The bottom line is we are saying we are at the disposal of NEA staff to develop any way we can.

BILL BENSON: I see Beth shaking her head as yes, we would welcome that.

PETER WHITEHOUSE: I'm Peter Whitehouse from The Intergenerational Schools, Cleveland. We did get concrete and one of the conversations is this interesting conversation between the humanities, the arts, the humanities and social sciences, for example, Bill Elwood and I are involved in the health humanities which is a movement in some sense displacing the medical humanities where the conversation is broadened to other healthcare professionals and broadened to include the people that we are trying to serve and broadened specifically to include art. The fact that many of us depend on the psychosocial methodologies to evaluate the humanities and the arts, means that there may be some common political agendas and lessons to be learned specifically in that space, a partnership between arts and humanities and psychosocial researchers and so on.

MARETE WESTER:  Hi, Marete Wester, Americans for the Arts. Along those same lines, the larger concept that came out was looking at the impact of public policy in national, state and local levels. One concrete recommendation that is of benefit to the larger group is with regard to the federal interagency task force in arts and human development which has done a tremendous job addressing some of our priorities and communications about different models and strategies. Could that actually be expanded as a network that could reach out into the private sector community of artists, researchers and other health system practitioners and become more of a mentoring and coaching which could address the issues of how do you get research funding and other tactical things that were discussed?

PETER WHITEHOUSE: There is a lot of discussion about interagency cooperation and inter-generational cooperation. I'm thinking the task force might be one route to do that or NIH. Some of the roots that already exist need to be expanded and leveraged.

BILL BENSON: Any other comments or thoughts for Michael as he tries to get away? I think you are OK to go. We are now going to turn to our third and final group, our age friendly community design group which incidentally, we had to drag them out of the room. We are now going to turn to our third group to complete a long list of actionable items they were very much focused on.

MATTHIAS HOLLWICH: The truth of the fact is we are all aging and 95% of our time, we are surrounded by urbanism and architecture. This is why we believe that it is so important of an issue that we should ask the president to have an Executive Order to all agencies and bureaus of Indian affairs to look through the agency with the lens of the older or aging population. In our group, we had a lot of inspiration of what could be looked at. For example, creative financing tools for housing and transit that would help the market to move. Financial incentives for reviving good projects like lower rates for buildings with universal design. Or we could inspire them to better enforce existing laws or set new performance standards for the transit which is already in progress, but now think about when these agencies would look through the lens of an aging population. Or the housing accessibility design standards or the CDBG technical assistance guidelines or even mortgage financing which is organized around the 30 year mortgage. But now we are 65, 75 and 85, so 30 years is not an appropriate limit anymore. We have a couple of other ideas beyond asking the president about the Executive Order. We should look into the funding of innovation and research. There are some agencies here who have money. That is DARPS, DARPA, NSF, NEA and NEH. At some point, someone has to translate all of these are me. We believe there should be a spokesperson, and aging czar that should be instated who should become an advocate of the whole population. Because we are all getting there. It’s so surprising. We talk about these older people, but it is you and me. It's also the president. We are all getting there. That should be our final point, we would like the president to talk about design as a key tool to creating all inclusive communities and start a campaign against ageism because design is what makes us human and it is time to include all of us. [APPLAUSE]

BILL BENSON: Thank you Matthias. Again, those who would like clarification or have any comments or just to offer your thoughts about what was that before we go into our closing session, let's see what we have.

UNKNOWN: I want to ask a question about the issue of sound design and hearing design. One of the things we have all been made aware of by John Hopkins latest report is that hearing loss has been vastly underreported and that is leading to an incredible social isolation and early onset of dementia. Did your group look at the issues of hearing and various things we might do with copper looping of public spaces so that hearing aids can hear perfectly, etc.?

MATTHIAS HOLLWICH: We did not get into the details of design challenges but our group is eager to get to work and actually put some of the research or creative thinking into the world. Maybe some someone from our group has a little bit of expertise in that subject? That would be helpful.

UNKNOWN: The Facilities Guideline Institute is looking at acoustics in health care. There is considerable work to be done. There's evidence that nursing homes and other facilities in the pathway of airports and exposed to high levels of noise, that the occupants have more cardiovascular problems, so there's definitely a link. There's a link between learning and hearing. I personally think one of the best ways to deal with that is better acoustic design and then we can look at other ways of supporting people who wear hearing aids or have other types of agents and appliances. Acoustic design is overlooked in this country tremendously.

PETER WHITEHOUSE: Peter Whitehouse, Case Western Reserve University. Just another comment about a movement that will be represented in a meeting here in Washington on June the third. Dementia friendly communities. They have been not so apparent in North America, but quite apparent in Asian and some European countries and it seems it is a mistake to not see these things as connected. These are two political movements. Generalized beyond that, to the extent I see age as an intergenerational phenomenon and Age-friendly community is a kid-friendly community. To the other extent one of the hugest issues that hasn't been talked about much here, global climate change and the fact our community, in particular our elders and kids, will be effected by a lot of changes in weather patterns. The notion that you do public transportation and change the ecological impact and life for kids and elders means this is a movement toward reinvigorating communities more generally which I guess resonates with some of what you are saying.

MATTHIAS HOLLWICH: Everything that our group discussed is very much in line with what you just mentioned.

MARETE WESTER:  Hi Marete Wester, Americans for the Arts again.  I think it is implicit in your recommendation -- did your group discuss explicitly some of the implications of mortgage financing and affordable design on the impact of poverty stricken and economically challenged communities and how that effects our aging population? Communities and climate change, the food sourcing we see impact disproportionately low income communities and it seems to me that is an important design concept not to lose sight of.

MATTHIAS HOLLWICH: That became clear when we tried to organize all of our work points. That is why we have to create this executive order that all agencies are looking to this and explore and find out it is all can did and find solutions that go way beyond just one issue at a time. We had a comment about the mortgage. I don't know if you want to speak out in more detail because I don't even have one yet because I don't have any credit score because I'm German.

KATHY SYKES:  We did talk about people with all ability and needs and homelessness, not just having elders be special population but understanding the only way we are going to get traction, the 30 year mortgage was being talked about because that's where there's a lot of money to make creative changes, especially to help with the affordable housing issue. We spent a lot of time talking about who is excluded.

BILL BENSON: I think we have one more.

TIM CARPENTER:  Tim Carpenter from EngAGE. The thing you mentioned about having an advocate in the White House, one thing I thought was interesting is wouldn't it be cool if the first lady or the first husband took on creative aging as their issue when the new White House was named. Just food for thought. [APPLAUSE]



BILL BENSON: I think we are probably getting close to the home stretch. Thank you very much. Beth and Gay, if you would come up here. The amount of energy from beginning to end was extraordinary. It was important you had energy because you were talking about solutions. All three groups were vigorous, fully engaged, and worked hard until the very last moment. So the question, given all of that work, is what would you like to see done to continue this conversation beyond today, and even beyond the White House conference on aging, to continue all of the good work and dialogue?

KATHY SYKES: I think it would be wonderful if we continued the same kind of discussion we had among this group here today back in our communities around the country. This summer, perhaps? Asking the same question. Going out and reaching many more people. Almost have, what was a very successful program at the United Way with, a hack-a-thon—sort of like brainstorming—to deal with the same ideas. I think it would be really exciting to have the book open and ongoing. Maybe something to turn in to this meeting that is coming up in July. But, maybe there is something that continues for the next calendar year through this administration that would have thoughts from (you put in your town) on these same issues.

BETH BIENVENU: Thank you, Kathy. I have to mention that any idea you bring up you’re volunteering to head to committee. [LAUGHTER] I’m just joking. But, if any of you are interested in helping us with these please let us know. Those are great conversations. You know we might be talking with state arts agencies or local arts agencies/local areas on aging.  So, that’s a great thought. That is a great thought. Any other thoughts? We have one up here.

KARYNE JONES: It has been a great day. Karyne Jones, National Caucus and Center on Black Aging. We had a great group. You guys are great. The one thing I think we all do in the aging field is we keep talking to each other. So to piggy back on what you are saying, Kathy, I hope when you go back to your own community that you will expand this discussion with people who are outside this, who don't necessarily touch with aging because that is the only way we are going to get a coalition of support on all of these issues that we think are really important. We keep talking to each other and we are all in the same choir. Let's bring in some other choir members and I think we will see a greater coalition of getting some of this stuff to be a reality.

GAY HANNA: That really plays well into what we have been talking about. Why didn't the White House conference include aging in its policy? As we were moving through the day, it occurred to us we have waited eight or nine years before we talked about it ourselves. We need to keep the conversation going, talk to others and that's going to be the true key to the success of this convening. We can't wait eight years to bring this topic up, or even one year, or one month.

BETH BIENVENU: Any other thoughts? Okay, we have a couple in the back. Raise your hands.

LUIS BORRAY: My name is Luis Borray. I'm an architect at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The question I think is, “what would I like to see done?” My suggestion is that the president should create a competition nationwide and an award for the design of communities that incorporate the needs of the elderly. Thank you.

JANET BROWN: I'm Janet Brown with Grantmakers in the Arts. I know that we are in a Federal Building. I know we have a lot of government agencies here. So, I'm not talking to you. We talked a lot today about advocacy and public policy and changing policy. I think that some organizations could be primed to be the national coordinator of policy at the national level. This means hiring lobbyists, getting funding for people to help us do that, and hiring lobbyists that are connected not only with the White House but also with aging policy and with Congress. There isn't an association in this town that doesn't have one. There isn't a policy agenda that moves forward that doesn't have this kind of support. I can say we can go back to our own networks and do the best job we can but that isn't how this town works. A foot in reality would be a good idea here. It take a big plan, and it will take a while to put together.

GAY HANNA: I do think that that is one thing we have heard so clearly today. That there is a need for stronger policy presence. I know [NCCA’s] board we will be discussing this thoroughly this summer. This summit will reorient the resources of the National Center for Creative Aging, and we feel that we will support this in any way possible. So, again, it’s just wonderful—I will call them growing pains of a field that, as Susan [Perlstein] said, we just hardly knew who we were and what we did 10 years ago.  We will be moderating our first Congressional briefing tomorrow. So what an impetus to have the support of all of you develop policy and a voice, and then do it tomorrow. Thank you.

BETH BIENVENU: Any other suggestions for continuing the conversation?

JEFFREY LEVINE: I have some off the wall suggestions here. Washington is an amazing place for art, for instance, with the Smithsonian and the NEA. Would it be possible to get both school kids or intergenerational art on designing creative communities?

BETH BIENVENU: That is a great idea. To do something locally or on a national basis?

JEFFREY LEVINE: You guys are national, or it could be local. I know for example there are various different universities around here that are working together on these subjects. You could certainly put together something that could be at the same time as the White House Conference for the Aging and coordinate something like this.

JENNIE SMITH-PEERS: I'm Jennie Smith-Peers from Elders Share the Arts. I know locally what we can commit to is having an ageism consciousness-raising group within my arts coalition in New York City. So we can start to deal locally with ageism and what that means for us, and then share that out through our social media. I think locally we can commit to what successes and challenges we're facing in advocacy efforts. We can then share that across the board and find shared language in our field together. I know we can realistically commit to that. And, I’m happy for us to commit to something like that locally.

GAY HANNA: Just to mention, what we hope comes out of your hard day’s work, which has been breathtaking, looking at the big picture and getting so granular in each of the three sessions, is we can produce material for Jenny so that it is easy for her to advocate for that. We can see that as an outcome that we hope to have advocacy platforms in each one of the three areas in the overarching issues as well. We know you need tools to do this. That is certainly our mission.

TOM PROHASKA: Tom Prohaska, George Mason. One of the things I find interesting is that ageism was mentioned several times here, and it's the first chapter in the upcoming WHO document, the first document ever on aging and health which is coming out in October. It's interesting that these problems are recurring. We have partners here in Tahoe in WHO who appreciate what is being done here. But more importantly, I think Washington is one of the places that epitomizes some of the biggest barriers for aging in place. You might think where am I coming from on this? The CDC has done quite a bit of work in way finding and the ability to negotiate one's environment. This is one of the most complex cities in the country to try to get around. It would be interesting if we would tackle one of the most difficult cities to see if we could make it more negotiable for older adults.

BETH BIENVENU: There are a lot of folks here in the room who work at the local level, so I hope they are taking those ideas too heart.

MARY FRANCES DEROSE: I agree with what you are saying and perhaps the Age-Friendly D.C. Project can take that on. If not as a larger project, certainly as a small one.

MARETE WESTER: Very quickly, congratulations to the NCCA and the NEA. This has been an extraordinary learning opportunity for me. Piggybacking on some of the other things being said, I know from the standpoint of Americans for the Arts that many of these issues already resonate with initiatives and programs and things that we're doing. My challenge is to go back and figure out through our communication mechanisms that we have, how can we communicate the outcomes and how can we commit over the next year as your information in the report comes out, our recommendations. It does not stop with us individually in this room. We think of ways we can take it out into our various networks. For those of us who do conferences, we need sessions. For those of us who do publications, we need articles. For those of us doing blogs, social media, instruction, there are pieces of this that each of us can do. I hope we all come away as energized as you provide us the opportunity to be in this environment.

BETH BIENVENU: That's a great reminder. We all have our own networks. Once we have these reports coming out, we will encourage you to help us disseminate them and spread them throughout your network. Any other final thoughts or recommendations?

SUSAN PERLSTEIN: I think we should give Gay and Beth a huge round of applause for putting this together and helping us move forward. And for Bill and the board and staff of the NCCA, let's hear it for that effort. [APPLAUSE] And we have come a long way.

GAY HANNA: Certainly, this dance is not over. To say, you did work hard for your lunch but we might have some more requests because the conversation was so granular. We want to be sure as we put together our report for the White House Conference on Aging that we have the depth and expertise included. So, may we return to you? I certainly hope so. We will have rather fast turnaround. We know you are very busy. We will try to make it as easy as we can for you to give your input and for us to include it and turn it back to you in a quality document that you will be very proud to say you were a part of this historic day when we put a stake in the ground. This important decade of this revolutionary century, we have made our mark for the future and the future for all ages and communities. So thank you very much.  

BETH BIENVENU: Gay, I have enjoyed working with you and your staff. You were such a pleasure to work with. I have come to rely on your depth of expertise. I have been in this job about four and three quarters years and I'm still learning, so I appreciate it. Speaking of which, there is someone here in the room that helped to really develop this field. She was mentioned earlier. Paula Terry, if you could stand up in the back, I want to acknowledge her. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her. She was here for many years developing my whole office, the office of accessibility, for artists with disabilities, audiences with disabilities, the field of creativity and aging, arts and health and universal design, of course. I want to acknowledge her and thank her. We would not be here if it were not for Paula and Susan and Bob and everyone. I also want to thank our staff. They've done such a wonderful job, Jenna, Courtney. Jason and Sunil helped to guide and shape our sessions, and helped with our invitee list and sitting in on the session. I want to thank a group of people, some sung and unsung heroes here, our facilitators and reporters; they were volunteers. They did such a wonderful job of helping to guide the discussion and report back, and document what we're doing. And our even more unsung heroes, our note takers. They have been diligently typing away. They will be helping to write up the report, so we thank them for their hard work. I know their minds are probably spinning right now. Just another few notes about the next step -- tomorrow morning, we will be reporting on the bullet points you guys narrowed it down to today at the Congressional briefing tomorrow morning and NCCA’s conference in the afternoon. Your comments will go out to the field right away. Then the note takers and NCCA will be doing the report writing. As we said, we would like to involve you with that process as well. The White House report is due sooner and then the full white paper will come out later this summer. We will take your suggestions under advisement in terms of ways to continue the conversation. We’ll start formulate an action plan and see what we can do. We appreciate your time and attention, and we appreciate the folks who joined us on the webcast. We look forward to talking with you all soon. Please stay and enjoy the reception. Thank you to Bill Benson for his great facilitation. And have a wonderful evening!