Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit

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Johanna Misey Boyer

This site is an easy-to-follow guide for developing and enhancing arts programs for older adults. Essentially an online book with ten chapters, all of which are available as pdfs for easy printing, the toolkit is a good example of a "soup to nuts" approach to program design, including evaluation. Sections of particular interest to those in arts and civic engagement include chapter 2 (How Arts Participation Benefits Older Adults); chapter 5, section 2 (Identifying Outcome Goals); and chapter 8 (Evaluation). A glossary (on page 185) includes terms related to civic engagement as well as evaluation, which is a useful tool. Chapter 2 discusses community cultural development (enumerating seven guiding principles) along with community arts programs and gives examples. It also speaks to enhancing individual quality of life and explains how people benefit from arts and aging programs, citing specific research. Chapter 5, section 2 gives a nice list of six potential outcome goals for arts and aging programs and describes two of them in depth (mastery and social engagement). Chapter 8 begins by defining evaluation terms: formative, summative, process and outcome evaluation, qualitative and quantitative, etc. It is an excellent, non-intimidating primer for arts practitioners who are starting out in evaluation. It gives basic questions that arts practitioners might ask when evaluating programs in the areas of outcomes, cost-benefit, and collaboration. Guidance is offered on how to assess costs and identify audiences. There is a handy chart on page 152 that describes how to measure an objective. The chapter covers how to use the information culled and guides readers in finding help from colleges and consultants. It gives a cursory look at data collection types, and touches on experimental design. The chapter ends with a nice summary of key points, and would likely leave the novice feeling informed and educated.

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