Outreaches for Immobile Seniors

Organization Associated with Program
McGroarty Arts Center

McGroarty Arts Center of Los Angeles conducts free arts classes in assisted living facilities and adult day centers that offer transportation through its Outreaches for Immobile Seniors program. These classes help remove two significant barriers to participation in the arts: money and transportation. Classes are conducted once or twice a week, for between one hour and two and a half hours; schedules vary. Classes are ongoing, and new students may join at any time. All programs are led by a professional teaching artist who uses high-quality materials. All materials are provided to the participants free of charge. Topics of classes vary by location and students’ abilities and skill level.

Program History

McGroarty Arts Center was founded in 1953 in the historic home of John Steven McGroarty. Mr. McGroarty wrote for the Los Angeles Times for more than 40 years, authoring the weekly column, “Seen from the Green Verdugo Hills,” which he continued to write during his two terms in the House of Representatives (1935-1939). He also wrote several poems and plays, most notably The Mission Play, a three-hour pageant portraying the history of the California missions. In 1933, Mr. McGroarty was appointed the first-ever Poet Laureate of California, a position he held until he died in 1944 at the age of 82.

After Mr. McGroarty’s death, his niece inherited the home and surrounding grounds, which she sold to the City of Los Angeles in 1953. The house was declared a historic-cultural monument in 1970. In 1995, McGroarty Arts Center was privatized and has since been operated by a non-profit organization in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Outreaches for Immobile Seniors was designed to bring arts programming to older people who do not have access to personal transportation or are not physically able to travel. The program was begun in 2008 after the center received a farewell letter from a long-time student who explained that she was no longer able to come to the center because of health issues. Center staff visited the student’s residence at a healthcare facility to find out how they could bring the arts to her and to people like her who do not have access to the arts. Programs are now hosted at four locations including two adult day centers and two assisted living facilities.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Programs are evaluated through the use of feedback from students, instructors, and site partners. Interviews, individual assessments, surveys, and attendance records are used by staff conducting evaluations.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Be open and prepared to build solid relationships with staff members at the centers where you are providing arts services. Many healthcare organizations have high turnover rates, so creating as many positive relationships with as many staff members as possible is key to securing staff buy-in for the arts program. Also, be prepared to communicate the value of bringing arts classes to healthcare organizations and of expanding your target audience to include previously underserved communities.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Visual Arts
Target Audience: Active Adults, Frail Older Adults, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Adult Day Care, Assisted Living
Program Service Area: Rural, Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice