Creative Aging Directory - Tidewater Arts Outreach

Program Title
Community Arts Outreach
Program Summary

Tidewater Arts Outreach (TAO) provides community arts outreach in approximately 51 dependent care settings that serve older adults in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. These include long-term care facilities, assisted and independent living communities, day support programs, and rehabilitation hospitals. TAO shares the joy and healing power of quality arts experiences with people who have limited access to arts because of health, economic, or social circumstances. These experiences enrich the soul, stimulate the mind, and promote wellness through the healing power of music and the arts.

Music: TAO musicians facilitate choral singing groups, sing-a-longs, songwriting workshops, interactive percussion workshops, and performances in a variety of genres. TAO also provides performance opportunities for youth music ensembles at dependent care settings, giving young musicians new venues for showcasing their talents and facilitating intergenerational appreciation and interaction.

Visual arts: Community artists design visual arts programs for a variety of special needs. Projects include watercolors, stamping, pastels, collaging, card making, and a variety of autobiographical and themed visual arts activities. These programs have different goals, depending on the population being served, often promoting mental stimulation, self-awareness, interpersonal communication, fine and gross motor coordination, emotional healing, and self-expression. TAO presented a Memories in the Making facilitator workshop to train artists and caregivers in a process for creating meaningful visual arts experiences for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Performing arts and humanities: TAO sends dance troupes, story-tellers, and actors to dependent care centers throughout Hampton Roads. The Virginia Stage Company has partnered with TAO to perform readings, monologues, and one-act plays at local long-term care facilities. The performers of Hurrah Players entertain older adults with their youth and talent. TAO is now conducting TimeSlips group storytelling activities, a creative storytelling method that helps people with dementia reaffirm their humanity and connect with staff, family, and friends.

Program Background and History

Founded by MaryAnn Toboz, a musician who was inspired by her three-year involvement with Heart and Soul in Salt Lake City, Utah, TAO was incorporated in March 2004 and received its 501(c)3 designation in May 2004. Recruitment of artists and musicians began over the fall of 2004, and TAO has since presented regular monthly programs in dozens of Hampton Roads facilities.

Program-Specific Research and Key Findings
Program-Specific Assessment and Evaluation

TAO rigorously evaluates the effectiveness of its programs through surveys of the staff and clients of the facilities served. Measures include client participation, reports of pain reduction, overall enjoyment, improvement in clients’ emotional wellbeing, and overall program quality. Results: 99% of staff report that TAO's programs enhance the quality of life of their clients, and 90% of clients report experiencing improved emotional wellbeing.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs
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Arts Discipline
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus
Creation of Original Work, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus Other
Interdisciplinary Connections
Creative engagement
Target Audience
Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design
Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Adaptive Program Design Other
Program Setting
Adult Day Care, Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Assisted Living, Community Center, Healthcare - Long Term Care, Healthcare - Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
Program Service Area / Geography
Program Service Area / Geography Other