Communities of Practice

The Online NCCA EngAGE State Arts Agency Field Guide is scheduled to launch 1 May 2017! Stay tuned for Deatils!


ABOUT THE EngAGE Communities of Practice Initiative and Field Guide

What is the ENGAGE Initiative?

NCCA has launched a first-of-its-kind community of practice initiative to support state arts agencies (SAAs) in developing infrastructure and programming in arts, health, and aging in their state. Aimed at addressing the growing population of aging adults, this program is meant to support and empower arts agencies in creating infrastructure designed to help people creatively flourish across their lifespan.

"Being a part of the ENGAGE initiative allows SAAs to declare creative aging a priority for the agency, access financial resources that support their efforts, partner with strong national and peer organizations, and connect with a large pool of resources." - Catherine Lavenburg, North Carolina Arts Council


Who is involved?

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), the first class year of 13 states included Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

NCCA has expanded the program to continue our relationship and build upon the successes of our pilot agencies, while building outward to include an ever-widening network of state agencies. The second class year was an even larger cohort, consisting of California, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

With increased participation, we were able to enable mentorships between our first and second year agencies, as well as to revolutionize the way creative aging is represented and put into practice across our 30 state partners!  

"Sharing ideas and knowing I'm not going forward and re-inventing wheels, but sharing innovations." - Year One Participant



ENGAGE Year One began with a National Leadership Summit at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in August 2013. NCCA brought together representatives from the participating state arts agencies and staff from the NEA and NASAA for two half-day sessions dedicated to networking, learning about what is happening in creative aging in each state, and setting state-specific goals for the project. This session set the stage for the coming year, and provided information about how NCCA, the NEA, and NASAA would serve as resources throughout the duration of the project.

Here's what we discovered...

The staff representatives from our 13 SAA's outlined three critical issues to be addressed moving forward:

  1. Building partnerships
  2. Assuring internal readiness
  3. Mapping Assets

If you want to know more about our findings, please click here to check out our one-pager illuminating the key issues of the ENGAGE Initiative.  



In Year Two, the original 13 SAA joined an additional 17 arts agencies with the goal of pursuing on-going professional development. Each state formed a state-specific plan of action that sought to address the three critical issues mentioned above, as well as to expand the scope of the ENGAGE Initiative to address future obstacles towards establishing robust creative aging programs. The 2014-2015 initiative programming included a congressional briefing hosted by Sen. Claire McCaskill and a series of special interest group calls designed to address the specific needs of each state. 

States involved in the community of practice...

  1. Addressed critical issues in developing robust creative aging programs
  2. Created state-specific action plans
  3. Engaged in peer-to-peer mentoring
  4. Participated in the 2015 White House Conference on Aging


Through generous support from Aroha Philanthropies, the National Center for Creative Aging is thrilled to announce the third year of the ENGAGE Initiative! This year will include:

  • participation in the 2016 NCCA Leadership and Exchange - learn from peers at a national convening!
  • engagement with a community of practice webinar series - be inspired by national models and aging service collaborators!
  • development of new partnership opportunities - discover new sources of funding and program collaboration! 

Do you work for a state arts agency? Are you a leader in the arts or aging services field looking for partnerships? Contact esanderson@creativeaging to learn more.

"This has been an incredible opportunity to build knowledge, capacity, and direction to move forward." - Year Two Participant

We are thrilled to include nine new states into the community of practice! They are:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. Nevada
  5. Oregon
  6. Tennessee
  7. New York
  8. New Mexico
  9. Kentucky

These new states will work with both second and third year participants to increase capacity nationwide for creative aging! 

Why is this important?

The potential impact of the ENGAGE Initiative is immense. The establishment of a nation-wide Community of Practice empowers the growth of the creative aging field by producing significant outcomes in key areas of policy, internal infrastructure, asset mapping, partnership development, professional development, and program development. 

Not only has it been instrumental in helping strengthen SAAs, it has also increased NCCA's capacity by expanding NCCA's knowledge base of creative aging activities, programs, and practices across the diverse multitudes of our nation. It has also enhanced NCCA's partnership with the National State Arts Agency Assembly and allowed for the dispersion of tools and best practices for future use.

"It was excellent to spend time with my peer community, build a sense of community, be inspired, and see/feel a genuine momentum for the work of creative aging on a national stage." - Year One Participant 

Call to action!

If you are a...

  • Older adult looking for creative aging services in your community
  • A caregiver looking to connect with other professional
  • A community program looking to connect in a larger dialog of the field
  • A State Arts Agency representative interested in knowing more

Or if you're simply curious, please do not hesitate to contact us at

A shared passion for building a world where all individuals flourish across their lifespan through creative expression.

   Click here to stay engaged with the Communities of Practice initiative!