For Healthy Aging, a Late Act in the Footlights
Tina Rosenberg, New York Times
What kind of old age will you have?
Many of us look forward to spending retirement expanding our world — traveling, trying what we never had time to do, taking classes that give us new knowledge and skills. These activities are not only desirable in themselves, they help us to live longer and healthier lives.
But they are not within everyone’s reach. Absent money and a sense of possibilities, retirement can become more time to fill with television. “We see people without money, who had very hard lives, who are not aware of their own potential,” said Maureen Kellen-Taylor, the chief operating officer of EngAGE ,a program in the Los Angeles area that provides arts and other classes for some 5,000 people — the vast majority of them low-income — living in senior apartment communities. “They just had to get through life, taking care of things, and the idea of following a dream was not on their radar screens.”
That’s why the Burbank Senior Artists Colony is remarkable. Opened in 2005, it is a mix of market-rate and low-income apartments. The building looks like an upscale hotel but is built for the arts, with studios, a video editing room, a theater and classrooms.
Residents may arrive with no previous artistic experience or skill as an artist — but artists they become. The theater group that Sally Connors participates in is working with a troupe in London, via Skype, to write and perform a soap opera. Walter Hurlburt shows his oil paintings — for sale — at the colony’s periodic art exhibitions. Residents work with students from a nearby alternative high school to do improv theater, make claymation films and art from recycled items. Suzanne Knode wrote a short movie, “Bandida,” about an elderly woman who takes the bus to rob a convenience store. Then the residents filmed it — and Ira Glass’s “This American Life” television show filmed them — and submitted the film to the Sundance Film Festival. “A pistol, a plan, and sensible shoes,” says the poster.
To read the full article: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/15/for-healthy-aging-a-late-act-in-the-footlights/