05 11 12 ETC CA - Hunter's Park 041

Educational Theatre Company's Creative Age

Organization Associated with Program
Educational Theatre Company
3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive
Arlington, Virginia 22206

The Creative Age program of Educational Theatre Company (ETC) of Arlington, Virginia offers people over the age of 55 onsite, weekly theatre workshops taught by experienced theatre artists and seasoned educators. Classes (approximately one hour each week) are designed to develop and expand participants’ knowledge of theatre history and practice, and to encourage social engagement in the community through a combination of dramatic lecture, scene study, and reminiscence. ETC offers programming for assisted and independent living populations, and the content offerings are tailored to the unique needs and goals of each demographic group. Since the program launch in 2009, it has served over 200 participants in nine diverse communities in the National Capital Area and works in collaboration with strong community partners including the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation Office for Senior Activities, Marymount University, local assisted living facilities and adult day programs, and others.

Program History

Educational Theatre Company’s mission is to change the world by unlocking the creative and collaborative potential of children and adults by sharing with them a passion for the theatre arts through school- and community-based programs in the National Capital Area. ETC’s programs focus on discovering and fostering the creative impulse of each individual. The organization provides a safe and structured environment where students can explore their own creativity, take risks, and conquer challenges. ETC is committed to nurturing the next generation of theatre artists and educating future theatre patrons about the joys of live theatre. The company's teaching models instill self-confidence and build important life-skills as well as educating students in acting and drama techniques.

Before ETC launched Creative Age, its programming was primarily focused on children between the ages of three and 18. ETC developed the Creative Age program to expand its offerings and truly serve all members of the community.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

The program is assessed in these ways:

  • Ongoing evaluation is conducted through feedback collected from participants, teaching artist mentorship, and staff discussion.
  • Interviews are conducted with participants, teaching artists, and site administrators about the program experience and impact, and suggestions for improving service delivery within each of the targeted communities are solicited.
  • Formalized evaluation tools and processes are currently in development and will be implemented when they are completed.
Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Never underestimate the impact of arts education at this stage in a person’s life. Use of the arts (whichever art form you choose) and underlying themes to spark discussion through interactive programming can stimulate creativity and invite memory responses in older adults, vastly improving individual lives by helping participants find purpose and meaning and escape the loneliness that often comes with aging.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus
Arts Discipline: Literature, Media Arts, Theater
Interdisciplinary Connections: Education, History
Target Audience:
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, Psychiatric Disabilities
Program Setting: Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Assisted Living, Community Center, Education (e.g. School / University), Healthcare - Long Term Care, Healthcare - Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
Program Service Area:
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice