As part of the national movement to promote the “Aging in Place” initiative, which is aimed at helping older Americans remain in their communities, Chicago has been selected to host the fifth of six national workshops sponsored by MetLife Foundation, Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). The workshop, “Engaging Older Adults Through Arts and Culture: Developing a Livable Chicago for All Ages,” will be hosted by the City of Chicago, Chicago Department of Seniors Services, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Life Opportunities Initiative, Chicago Business Council, and the Center for Creative Aging at Harold Washington College. The workshop will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center on March 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The local discussion will complement the dynamic national conversation taking place on aging and highlight the creative work already occurring in Chicago to make it a first-rate place for all age groups. This workshop will gather key innovators and cultural arts and aging professionals from across the city to identify strategies for cultural institutions to engage older adults. Speakers include Lois Smith, who is currently starring in The Trip to Bountiful at the Goodman Theatre; Martha Lavey, artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Sammie Dortch, chair of the department of Applied Sciences and program coordinator of Gerontology at Harold Washington College; Juana Guzman, vice president of the National Museum of Mexican Art; Judy Holstein, Adult Day Services director at CJE SeniorLife; Patricia O’Malley, Renaissance Court regional director of the Chicago Department of Senior Services; and Chuck Thurow, executive director of the Hyde Park Art Center.

As Chicago prepares for the retirement of its baby boomer population, local leaders are calling for strategies to help strengthen opportunities for older adults to contribute to the cultural life of their communities. More than 11 percent of Chicago’s population is 65 years old or over.

“We know this event will be the beginning an on-going conversation between representatives from organizations working with older adults and in the cultural arts,” said Joyce Gallagher, commissioner of Chicago Department of Senior Services. “By collaborating on future projects and programs, Chicago's senior and arts organization will build partnerships, bolstering the community as a whole.”

“Although the nexus of arts and aging will be the focal point of this workshop, the speakers and panelists are well aware that creating a livable community for all ages involves all aspects of community living – health, transportation, public safety, workforce development, civic engagement, aging and human services – to name a few,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Attendees will also learn how to apply for “JumpStart the Conversation” grants, which is an opportunity for Chicagoland area organizations to take action in their communities that will help the Aging in Place initiative. Nine grants of $1,000 and one grant of $2,500 will be awarded to support innovative ideas focused on the theme of engaging older adults through cultural institutions. Applicants do not have to attend the workshop, and the deadline for applying is April 8, 2008.

“Through the workshop and grant opportunities, communities will gain a renewed sense of urgency when it comes to considering community livability for all ages,” said Robert McNulty, president of Partners. “We’re looking to bring together an energized group of organizations and individuals in order to face the challenges that accompany this time of change.”

“We are proud to support this initiative to encourage art and cultural organizations to engage older adults,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation.  “The Chicago Forum should lead to innovative programs for people of all ages.”

MetLife Foundation - Established in 1976 by MetLife for the purpose of supporting education, health, civic and cultural organizations.  In aging, MetLife funds programs that support healthy aging and address caregiving issues, intergenerational activities, mental fitness and volunteerism.  For more information, visit

Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) – A national, nonprofit organization working to renew communities for all ages.   For more information, visit

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) – A leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging across the country and Title VI Native American aging programs.  For more information, visit

For more information on the Aging in Place Initiative, visit



David Hammarstrom
Ted Mitchell