Elder with student

Danceworks' Intergenerational Multi-Arts Project (IMAP)

Organization Associated with Program
Danceworks, Inc.
1661 North Water St.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

Danceworks’ Intergenerational Multi-Arts Project (IMAP) is a semester-long, multi-generational, multi-arts residency program provided in healthcare and education settings in the Milwaukee area. It uses dance and visual art instruction and intergenerational relationship-building to engage young people and older adults in their communities. IMAP integrates the arts into daily life and nurtures respect and healthy attitudes toward aging and between generations. The program serves 400-500 people each year.

IMAP provides therapeutic arts interventions for older adults, arts education sessions for students in the classroom, and group movement and art-making sessions that directly unite older adults and youth. Dance, visual arts, storytelling, and music are all incorporated. IMAP provides public education, culminating in public presentations of work created jointly by the older and younger participants. IMAP artworks are shared with the community through a touring exhibition in gallery, public, and community settings around the city.

Program History

The Danceworks IMAP Program, launched in 2005, provides approximately 24 hours of multi-arts (dance and visual art) workshops over a 10-12 week semester for K-8 children and youth as well as older adults in a school facility, adult healthcare organization, or community center. IMAP uses arts instruction and intergenerational relationship-building to engage young people and older adults in their communities and provide social and academic benefits for participants. The program’s goals are to:

  • Reduce isolation and improve the physical, social, and emotional quality of life for low-income, medically frail, diverse older adults and provide a creative environment and opportunities;
  • Improve students’ respect for self and others; their connection to community, culture, and tradition; and their abilities to express themselves creatively; and
  • Improve attitudes toward aging for all participants.
Program Assessments and Evaluations

This program is evaluated on an ongoing basis through the use of surveys, attendance records, and anecdotal evidence from staff and students. IMAP has included a formal assessment process created in collaboration with an affiliated researcher, Marquette University Associate Professor Rebecca Bardwell, PhD. Based on two years of assessment findings, IMAP successfully achieved several projected outcomes.

Students’ respect for self and others improved by 38%, self-esteem increased by 46%, self-efficacy by 39%, school engagement by 68%, and attitudes toward aging by 45%. Student responses to post-program surveys demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive reaction to IMAP and the older adults. Assessment results for our older adult participants also demonstrated positive change. Older adults’ respect for self and others improved by 30%, self-esteem by 65%, self-efficacy by 58%, engagement by 44%, and attitudes toward aging by 61%. More than half of older adult participants’ results were statistically significant, suggesting that IMAP had an effect on the positive changes.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Always be flexible to the context you are working in. If something isn’t working, think critically about why and respond.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Workshop
Arts Discipline: Dance, Music
Interdisciplinary Connections: Education
Target Audience: Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Arts Organization, Education (e.g. School / University)
Program Service Area: Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice