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Wyoming grant supports creative aging through arts

Kathleen Shannon

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(Wyoming News Service) Teaching artists can now apply for grant funding centered on programs for older Wyomingites.

The Creative Aging Project Grant, from the Wyoming Arts Council, is open to teaching artists and nonprofit arts organizations, often libraries and other community centers. The grant funds $2,500 per program and uses the creative aging arts education model, offering eight weeks of sequential skills-building classes culminating in a community event.

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Josh Chrysler, folklorist and health and wellness specialist for the Wyoming Arts Council, said the focus on older adults comes from a pillar of the council's mission.

"These programs should be available throughout our life span," Chrysler contended. "Which is predicated on the understanding that participating in the arts is healthy for you."

Engaging in the arts plays a fundamental role in slowing cognitive decline and ensuring a high quality of life, according to a 2023 study. Applications for the Creative Aging grant are due July 10.

Denica Shell, instructor at the Buffalo Senior Center and a Creative Aging Project Grant recipient, has been working with the program for three years and said her collaboration with the center led to a full-time job there. She is glad to be able to offer the programming to older adults for free and enjoys helping students reconnect to activities they have not done in a while.

"One thing that I've heard from several students is they really loved art as a kid or always wanted to learn certain things and are basically coming back 50, 60 years after and have this opportunity to explore something that they hadn't previously," Shell observed.

Shell utilizes various media in her classes, including drawing and watercolor, although the grant covers other forms of media, too.