The Library as Incubator Project is thrilled to feature Lifetime Arts, a non-profit working nationally at the intersection of aging and creativity. Not only does Lifetime Arts support and facilitate meaningful creative opportunities for older adults, they also work closely with libraries and librarians to ensure that these opportunities are accessible to as many older people as possible. – Laura

Lifetime Arts offers an excellent example of how arts organizations and libraries can work together to provide vital arts access for an often under-served but important group.  Lifetime Arts just received the first ever MetLife Foundation Creativity in America Leadership Award in the category of Lifelong Learning.

The mission of Lifetime Arts is to encourage creative aging by promoting the inclusion of professional arts programs in organizations that serve older adults; to prepare artists to develop the creative capacity of older adult learners; and to foster lifelong learning in and through the arts by increasing opportunities for participation in intergenerational and community based programming.

Photo courtesy of Lifetime Arts.

Lifetime Arts connects the people, funding, ideas and strategies necessary to increase the number and quality of professional arts programs for older adults. By helping to develop policy, sharing best practices and providing expert technical assistance in the design, funding and implementation of creative aging programs, Lifetime Arts helps organizations and individuals build livable communities for all ages.

The organization connects with libraries in a very significant way  through Creative Aging in Our Communities: The Public Library Project. This unique program is based on a vision for mobilizing the trusted, neutral, information-rich public space of the library to deliver arts education for and with older adults. That vision includes building effective collaborations between teaching artists and librarians and building the capacity of different library systems to carry out and sustain creative aging programs. The work to date affirms this vision. Teaching artists and librarians find that they share a vision for positive aging and bring complementary strengths to designing and implementing meaningful programs for older adults.

For more information about specific Lifetime Arts library programs, click here.

This nationally recognized program provides incentive grants, access to great teaching artists and on-going technical assistance for public libraries. Led by professional teaching artists, libraries implement skill-building workshop series which foster mastery and promote meaningful social engagement—two key ingredients for positive aging. These FREE programs (in all arts disciplines) help improve the quality of life for participants. At each library, culminating events celebrate the achievements of every participant.

Photo courtesy of Lifetime Arts.

Through a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and in partnership with American Library Association Public Programs Office (ALAPPO), Lifetime Arts will produce The Creative Aging Tool-Kit for Public Libraries, an online implementation guide, providing practical guidance on program implementation, partnership development, as well as funding and sustainability strategies to support libraries’ collaborations with artists.  In June 2013, the Tool-Kit will be launched nationally and disseminated by ALA’s Public Program Office.  It will remain free and accessible online serving thousands of librarians across the country .


By the end of 2013, Lifetime Arts will have facilitated the implementation of creative aging programs in 135 libraries, serving more than 2,000 older adults through instructional workshops and reaching over 13,000 people through culminating events.  More than 120 artists will have been employed, 250 librarians will have participated in direct professional development and technical assistance workshops and thousands more librarians will have benefited from online resources and training.

Photo courtesy of Lifetime Arts.

Project Partners (to date)

  • American Library Association Public Programs Office
  • Boston Public Library
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Clinton Essex Franklin Library System
  • Dallas Public Library
  • Miami – Dade Library System
  • New York Public Library
  • Westchester Library System

Project Funders (to date)

  • Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation
  • Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation
  • Institute for Museum and Library Services
  • Laura Jane Musser Fund
  • MetLife Foundation

Special thanks to Maura O’Malley, President and CEO of Lifetime Arts, for her work on this feature. To learn more about Lifetime Arts, visit the website at

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