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Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit
photo of five people dancing with a saxophonist (Kairos)
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9.5: Developing Methods

Public awareness efforts must be ongoing. The success of advocacy, in particular, is directly related to your ability to cultivate policy makers and elected officials throughout the year and over time. Every opportunity that you have to talk or write about the benefits of your arts and aging program is an opportunity to increase public awareness.

In addition to the marketing strategies listed in chapter 6, try these methods:

Program Example: Creating Synergy

The Foundation for Quality Care’s Art from the Heart program is a visual arts competition among residents of long-term care facilities. The winners’ works illustrate a calendar, and additional top selections are framed for exhibition. These pieces are loaned to state-level elected officials to be displayed prominently in their offices. Each politician who participates has to pick up the work of art from the facility in which the older adult artist resides. The facility creates a celebratory event around this visit and invites members of the media to attend.

Meanwhile, the calendars are distributed widely to all elected officials and within all relevant state departments, such as health and human services. This practice personalizes residents not only to policy makers, but also to lobbyists and department staff, thus raising awareness.

 

Program Example: Using a Program to Increase Public Awareness

The creators of the Arts and Inspiration Center set up one-time groups in various settings such as retirement communities, senior housing, churches, and physicians’ offices. By participating in these groups, individuals learned about the actual programs at the centers. At the senior high-rise, for example, interested residents joined a sample Memories in the Making group, which they found enjoyable and meaningful, dispelling misconceptions of suitable activities for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The residents’ experience also catalyzed conversation about the importance of early diagnosis. In the physician’s office, staff and nurses participated and subsequently referred patients to the centers. 112

 

No matter what methods you choose, be persistent. If you want a funder or community leader to speak on your behalf or attend an event, don’t assume that a “no” means that he or she is not interested; perhaps there is just a schedule conflict. Keep extending the invitation, and explore other options for his or her involvement with your program.

Remember that the quality of your materials and presentations matters. Not only do the print pieces transmit your values and professionalism, but they also attract attention. Audiences will want to read something that looks good and listen to a message that is delivered effectively.

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Appendix 3:
Kairos Dance Theatre Support Letters (1) (2)