Annual Report 2021: Rebirth

Dear Friends,

As you settle into the summer with family, friends, and loved ones, we want to tell you about some milestones in bringing the dazzling beauty and therapeutic power of artful, joyous connection to more corners of older adult and caregiver communities. Our impact is evident. Pandemic connection, expanded workshop types, partnership, workforce development, cultural equity, capacity building, and recognition have lit the way.

We are pleased to share with you our 2021 annual report, Rebirth, as we celebrate all the ways that community support continues to inspire, uplift, and connect us all. Read the full newsletter here.

Photo by Stephanie Williams Images

Creating a More Inclusive Arts for the Aging

Dear Friends,

We are committed to the vital work of cultural equity, which for us means that racial equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) are guiding lights through recent challenges presented to the world—the pandemic, a financial crisis, and continuing racial injustice. We have brought in experts to lead cultural equity workshops for our board of trustees, staff, teaching artists, and volunteers. This key stakeholder cohort is now a formal committee of the board of trustees and meets bi-monthly in what we are calling equity jams. Together we are implementing key recommendations from an organizational cultural equity assessment, which is helping us identify, discuss, and put into action what it means to become a fully equitable organization in both policy and practice. Externally, we are seeking funding and partnerships to expand the accessibility and inclusivity of our creative aging programs in Greater Washington, D.C.

We are developing more client and partner reach with communities that are BIPOC-led and/or BIPOC reaching (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) so that we can strengthen impact with and in historically marginalized communities. We are recruiting more teaching artists with diverse backgrounds, arts disciplines, and who are multi-lingual. We are infusing our therapeutic and multi-disciplinary arts programs with more multi-sensory approaches to increase entry points for inclusive engagement with participants impacted by varying conditions in aging. While creating these collaborations and strategies is helping address some of the immediate impacts of racial inequities in health and aging that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, we’re also moving ahead with a spirit of long-term sustainability. We are maintaining community connections, robust partnerships, and inclusive co-created programs already established over our 34-year history. Progress is measured by surveying stakeholders on impact, conducting pre-and post-workshop assessments, and by comparing pre- and post-pandemic constituent reach as we build back our client base with hybrid programming: in-person, virtually, telephonically, and with home-delivered heART Kits.

Embracing a theme of Connection in 2022, in May the board adopted recommendations made by the equity cohort for revisions to our organizational statements of mission, vision, values, and beliefs. Together, we also created cultural equity statements, leveraging resources from advocates at the national level, Americans for the Arts. Our cultural equity statements reflect vital and lasting beliefs about our work together. They are foundational to Arts for the Aging’s mission, goals, activities, and ways we relate to one another. They are principles that unite us—program participants, teaching artists, board, staff, advisors, volunteers, clients, and partners. Our goal is to create an organization that is welcoming and inspires a sense of belonging at all levels to people with diverse abilities and backgrounds.

We are pleased to share our revised organizational statements and our new cultural equity statements.

Illustration: Created by Lenique Huggins and inspired by an Arts for the Aging equity jam.

JUNE 10, 2016: AFTA-Party & Video Premiere

Lezley Melveen, Don Wright, Janine Tursini, Vereta Powell, Ryan Wilson
Lezley Melveen, Don Wright, Janine Tursini, Vereta Powell, Ryan Wilson

Under the gracious patronage of His Excellency Peter Kmec, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Washington, friends of AFTA celebrated the culmination of our spring Annual Fund campaign and our spring tennis tournament with an AFTA Party. At the Embassy, we premiered our new AFTA video, enjoyed a Slovakian music performance, heard moving stories from AFTA programs, and were charmed by an originally choreographed presentation of Slovakian folklore by older adults with memory loss who took part in a series of workshops with AFTA teaching artists Nancy Havlik and Candace Wolf. Specially recognized during the program were retired trustee Susie Eisinger for dedicated service, and tennis tournament winners, Suzanne Schwetz and Miran Vucic. Afterwards, guests dined on delicious Slovakian cuisine prepared by the Embassy chef, and mingled with bubbly and good friends. Special thanks to the Embassy’s Cultural Counselor Dagmar Timurova and AFTA National Advisory Council member Rhoda Septilici for making the evening possible. The event’s program can be viewed here, and photographs are available here.

MAY 15, 2016: AFTA Cup Team Tennis Tournament

Trustee Alan Hermesch cheers players on.
Trustee Alan Hermesch cheers players on.

Arts for the Aging hosted a team tennis tournament, the 26th Annual AFTA Cup, at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, in Washington, D.C., capturing for play one of May’s rare sunny days in an uncharacteristically rainy month. Players enjoyed friendly competition and, afterwards, watched exhibition matches featuring the ranks of Richey Reneberg, Danny Waldman and Chi Wan Kim, as well as Junior champions Andrew Fenty and Brandon Perez. An awards presentation followed at a June AFTA-Party at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, detailed above. Proceeds from the tournament support AFTA’s award-winning arts engagement workshops for older adults in the D.C. metro region who need it most. Congratulations to AFTA Cup winners Suzanne Schwetz and Miran Vucic. Special thanks to co-chairs Don Wright and Jim Faruki, as well as key sponsors, ACS/BNY Mellon, Konterra/Gould Property, SunTrust Bank, Kingdon Gould, Jr., Gingles, LLC, Kuni Matsuda, Fidelity Mechanical Services, and RPG Squarefoot Solutions. Event photos can be viewed here.