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SageNews Fall 2014


Welcome to another issue of SageNewsthe quarterly newsletter of ArtSage, a convener, connector, and catalyst for the field of arts and aging. We provide training for artists and organizations, consulting services and resources in the field of arts and aging. Please visit to join us!


New Teaching Artist Cohort Selected for 2014-2015

ArtSage has selected 21 Minnesota teaching artists to receive year-long arts and aging training led by nationally-recognized teaching artists and aging experts. The training will help artists develop their skills in working with older adults, increasing their understanding of the qualities, characteristics and dimensions unique to the aging population. They’ll develop tools and techniques for working with older adult populations, engage in critical discourse about their artistic work in relation to aging, and learn from and connect to leading local, regional and national arts and aging experts.

Participating artists were selected from a pool of 37 candidates from disciplines including visual arts, dance, theater, music, and literary arts. Funding for the program comes through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and additional support for Twin Cities metro and western metro artists comes from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

The BASIC training group includes 14 artists from the Twin Cities metro area and 4 artists from Greater Minnesota, who will participate in four days of experiential workshops (including a two-day intensive conference at the Oak Ridge Conference Center in November). Each of the artists will be paired with a mentor to observe, teach and provide feedback on best practices.

In addition, three artists who have already completed ArtSage basic training were selected for ADVANCED training (new in 2014), in which they will work one-on-one with a mentor during a 3-month period to expand their learning through focused instruction in a secondary art form (following the ArtSage multi-modal approach) or in a specific care area, such as memory loss.

“Our goal with this training is to develop an ‘army’ of teaching artists who are trained to work with older adults in community settings and all levels of care,” says ArtSage Executive Director Tammy Hauser. “By doing this, we set the standard for meaningful arts activities that engage seniors’ minds, hearts, and spirits and help them to continue living creative and vital lives.”

 ArtSage Training Initiative staff and mentors for 2014-2015 include:  Jeanie Brindley-Barnett (MacPhail Center for Music), Joey Clark (MacPhail Center for Music) Michèle Coppin (independent visual artist), Parker Genné (Kairos Dance Theater), Zoë Bird, (Alzheimer’s Poetry Project-Minnesota).

 Artists selected for ArtSage BASIC training in 2014-2015:
Valorie Arrowsmith Stanchfield Visual Arts 
Jenny Barlow Chaska Literary Arts
Sandy Baron Wayzata Visual Arts
Cate Belleveau Puposky Theatre
Alison Bergblom Johnson Minneapolis Literary Arts
Melina Bolton Plymouth Visual Arts
Wanda Borman Eagan Visual Arts
Naomi Cohn Saint Paul Literary Arts
Nancy Cook Saint Paul Literary Arts
Laurie Greeninger North Branch Visual Arts
Jamie Hetherington Newport Visual Arts
Robert Karimi Saint Paul Interdisciplinary
Paula Lammers Apple Valley Music
Deborah Magnuson New Brighton Music
Mike Marthaller Minneapolis Visual Arts
Kim Sueoka Minneapolis Music
Barbara Tarrant Minneapolis Literary Arts
Cynthia Unowsky Saint Paul Music
 Artists selected for ArtSage ADVANCED training in 2014-2015:
LeeAnn Goerss Buffalo Visual Arts
Emily Jarrett Hughes Minneapolis Dance
Therese Kunz Outing Theatre

Every time I do something with ArtSage, my work gets better and my

classes get more powerful and meaningful. There is still so much to learn!

— Emily Jarrett Hughes, 2014-2015 ADVANCED Arts Training participant


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ArtSage Launches New Partnership with Ecumen in Duluth

This month, ArtSage is launching an exciting new partnership initiative with Ecumen, a nonprofit providing senior housing and aging services across Minnesota. The project is a three-month Intro to Arts program at Ecumen Lakeshore in Duluth, from October-December 2014. This new partnership will form the basis for an expanded 2015 pilot program to create a sustainable and replicable arts-infused campus with high-quality, engaging arts experiences for Ecumen residents at all levels of care, from Independent and Assisted Living to Memory Care.


"Ecumen is excited about our innovative partnership with ArtSage," said Judy Blaseg, Ecumen's Vice President of Philanthropy. "The training that ArtSage artists have in dealing with the interests and capabilities of our dynamic senior population is essential to the Ecumen/ArtSage partnership. We envision a long and productive relationship for both of our organizations."

The Ecumen partnership project is managed by ArtSage master teacher Jane Tygesson, author of Opening Doors to Memory & Imagination, a manual to help museums create programs to engage the senses and spark conversation for people with memory loss. Programming will kick off with an Intro to Arts & Aging workshop at Ecumen Lakeshore Campus on October 24, introducing the trio of participating master teaching artists: Zoë Bird of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project-MN, visual artist Michèle Coppin, and Iris Shiraishi of Taiko for Life, who will offer arts residencies for Lakeshore residents through December 2014.

"This partnership with Ecumen is an important step in building Minnesota's arts and aging movement," said ArtSage Executive Director Tammy Hauser. "We're demonstrating with this project how senior communities can be transformed into arts-rich centers of learning, wellness and creativity."

The Ecumen Lakeshore program also aims to build relationships with Duluth-area artists and arts organizations, to encourage and support a continuing connection between the local arts community and Lakeshore residents and staff. The pilot project also includes planning, staff training, and professional evaluation to help Ecumen Lakeshore build towards an arts-infused community at all care levels.


The past which is not recoverable in any other way is
embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people
can regain a sense of identity. . .

         — Oliver Sacks, M.D., noted neurologist
and best-selling author of Musicophilia

ArtSage Board Welcomes New Chair, Two New Members

ArtSage, a connector, convener and catalyst in the field of arts and aging, announces the election of Brad Ballinger as the new ArtSage Board Chair and the appointment of two new board members, Judy Blaseg and Nathan Davis. Incoming board chair Brad Ballinger has served one year as Vice Chair, and will step into the top leadership role effective immediately.

“All of our new Board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table,” said Tammy Hauser, ArtSage Executive Director. “We are very fortunate to have them working with us as we continue to expand and strengthen the ArtSage regional arts and aging network.”

Ballinger-Brad.jpgBrad Ballinger is a leadership development consultant who has worked with many clients in the aging services field, including Presbyterian Homes and Services, Aging Services of Minnesota, Pioneer Care, Walker Methodist, and Benedictine Health Systems. Over the course of his career, he has created leadership development systems, conducted training workshops, facilitated strategic planning sessions, and taught at the university level.

Judy Blaseg is Vice President of Philanthropy at Ecumen, aBlasegJudy_2013_Preferred_Crop_sq.jpg nonprofit providing senior housing and aging services across Minnesota. Judy has been associate director of development for Catholic Charities, and also worked with VocalEssence, leading the fundraising efforts and consulting on their campaign and annual fund. She has served on many nonprofit and educational boards, including Mill City Summer Opera, Citizens League, DeLaSalle High School and MinnPost.

Nathan-Davis_3556d9d.jpgNathan Davis has most recently served as director of development for the Stanford Jazz Workshop and Festival, and executive director of advancement and strategic initiatives at the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific. He is also a former executive director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and former director of the performing arts series at Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

 Member Spotlight

Joey Clark Headshot-cropped-200X192.jpg

Joey Clark - ArtSage Theatre Arts Mentor

Joey Clark came to the field of arts and aging almost by accident. After earning a BFA in musical theater performance at Syracuse University, he moved to New York City. It was three weeks after September 11, 2001, and he happened to find a job at the Council Senior Center on West 72nd Street—Manhattan’s first senior center—and for the next seven years, he directed their chorus and brought music into the CSC Alzheimer’s/Memory Care Day Program.

“At first, I needed a job,” he says. “But it turned out to be a perfect fit. I’ve always gotten along better with older adults than with people my own age. I love how genuine and direct older people can be, and how much wisdom they hold through life experience. I also love what a powerful effect I can have on their day and what a powerful effect music and art can have on their day.”

Joey is one of the five mentors for the ArtSage Minnesota Professional Development Initiative for 2014-2015. He'll be paired with selected teaching artists over the next nine months, to observe, teach and provide feedback on best practices, helping them gain skills and experience working with older adults.

Some seniors in his classes want to stay creatively engaged after retiring from professional careers in the arts. Joey has a retired music teacher, an opera singer, and a big band trumpet player in his choir at The Kenwood in Minneapolis. The three are quiet about their experiences, he says. "But I like to draw stories out of them. They bring such an interesting perspective to the work."

In addition to his work for ArtSage, Joey teaches at MacPhail Center for Music and Episcopal Homes in Saint Paul. He is currently chair of the Musical Theater department at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, and has an active performing and directing career in the Twin Cities, with credits including Theatre Latte Da's THE FULL MONTY at the Ordway, The Emcee in CABARET at Bloomington Civic Theatre, George in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at Bloomington Civic Theatre, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at Park Square Theatre with Theatre MU, and a multitude of cabaret performances. 

And although he spends many of his days teaching older adults, Joey finds that he consistently learns from his students. “I am always amazed how much power a piece of art holds. The memories one song can produce, the imagery one poem can create, the story one picture can encapsulate... It never ceases to amaze me. The experience of working with older people teaches me never to overlook anything as a performer and director.”


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Member Spotlight

Giving Voice Chorus

Giving Voice ChorusGiving Voice is a new performing ensemble created especially for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Co-founders Mary Lenard and Marge Ostroushko were struck by recent discoveries about the power of music in the lives of people with dementia, even those dealing with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s.  They planned and talked about the idea for a year, then teamed up with Jeanie Brindley-Barnett and MacPhail Center for Music to get the ball rolling. The group began weekly rehearsals on September 10.

The emphasis at Giving Voice is singing together, no experience required. Participants fill out a profile, to give music director Brindley-Barnett a few clues to their musical history and preferences, so that she can tailor the repertoire to the group. That’s an important aspect of the creative process, giving singers a chance to perform music that’s important to them, connected to their experience. Giving Voice performs old and new favorites, from traditional folk music to show tunes, rock-and-roll oldies, and pop songs.

Areas of the brain connected to music are close to the areas connected to memory and mood, and hearing and singing can bring back memories of the scenes and situations in which that music first entered the brain.

"It's amazing what simply singing can do for people—and what it opens up," said Jenny Klukken of MacPhail, who assists Brindley-Barnett. "One of our participants who had been nonverbal suddenly started singing along to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"—and had all the words!"

Recent studies show that music touches strings of memory and emotion—words, melodies, rhythms can bring back memories and even a stronger sense of identity, vital to people who are experiencing memory loss. Singing and moving to music also stimulates many areas of the brain, from verbal areas to the motor cortex, and helps foster periods of greater lucidity.

ArtSage Awards

Do you know an older artist whose life and creative career continues to transform and inspire? ArtSage is looking for stories of artists 55+ to be featured on the ArtSage website, and nominated for the SageAwards to be presented at the Midwest Arts & Aging Conference and Showcase in June 2015. Look for nomination information on the ArtSage website under SageStories.


The National Council on Creative Aging is offering a new webinar, Tools & Tips from Grantmakers In Aging: Successful Foundation and Corporate Fundraising Techniques, on Wednesday, October 29, 1:00-2:00 PM EST. Facilitated by John Feather, CEO of Grantmakers In Aging, the webinar will focus on practical tools to build key relationships and shape winning proposals. Access to the webinar is FREE to all participants in the previous NCCA winter 2014 webinar series, Creative Aging: Through the Grantmaker Lens. More information »

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council offers Arts Learning grants of up to $10,000 for high-quality, arts education activities in any arts discipline to develop knowledge, skills, and understanding about the arts and/or learning through the arts. The next two deadlines are November 3, 2014, and March 2, 2015. More information »

Intro to Arts & Aging — Duluth

Curious about the aging demographic and what it means to you? Want to learn how to incorporate the arts into your programming for older adults?

Join us on October 24 for a day-long Intro to Arts & Aging Workshop, hosted by ArtSage at the Ecumen Lakeshore Campus in Duluth. This workshop is for artists, caregivers and family members, senior-serving organization staff, and all those who wish to learn more about the emerging field of arts and aging.

Click here to reserve your spot and find out more. Space is limited so register now!

Mark Your Calendars

Mayo Arts in Healthcare Regional Symposium, Rochester MN
ArtSage Workshop: Developing and Implementing Engaging Arts
Programs for Older Adults with Memory Loss

Midwest Arts & Aging Conference and Showcase
at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska MN


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