NEC Receives Seed Grant for Creative Aging Programs and Launches a Virtual Choir for Seniors

NEC is one of 14 nonprofit community arts education organizations from 9 states to receive a Catalyzing Creative Aging seed grant from the National Guild for Community Arts Education and Lifetime Arts.

The National Guild for Community Arts Education and Lifetime Arts are pleased to announce that New England Conservatory has been selected as one of 14 nonprofit community arts education organizations from 9 states to receive Catalyzing Creative Aging seed grants. Ranging between $2,000 and $7,000, these grants will support new and expanded creative aging programming, both in person and virtual, for adults ages 55+ in their communities. A total of $70,000 is being awarded.

The 14 Catalyzing Creative Aging seed grantees will pilot innovative creative aging programs that respond directly to expressed community needs and the constraints of our socially distanced world.

NEC's seed grant will support a new Virtual Choir for Seniors, which will give up to 25 older adult learners the opportunity to participate in a nine-week virtual singing class. Using Zoom, the participants will create a singing community as they work with master teaching artists once weekly. Participants will learn vocal warm-ups and breath work, as well as songs that relate to participant interests. The program will culminate in a sing-through “performance” as well as collaborative compilation of participants' work. Additional components will include an optional songwriting workshop with NEC students and a ​virtual community sing-along with other area community choirs.

The Catalyzing Creative Aging seed grant recipients are:

Read the full descriptions of funded programs.

Led by professional teaching artists, creative aging programs provide sustained arts instruction in socially supportive environments in a variety of community settings. These programs have proven psychological, physical, and emotional health benefits for older adults. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social isolation and its health impacts making these programs more crucial than ever, while also making them more challenging to produce. For this reason, all seed grantees will receive coaching from Lifetime Arts throughout the grant cycle to support ongoing program development, student recruitment and engagement, digital strategies, and more. 

“These grantees’ programs will provide elders in their communities with much-needed creative and emotional outlet, as well as a source of social interaction.” said Ashley Hare, National Guild’s Director of Leadership Development. “The programs will also demonstrate to the wider field that successful adaptation of programming to meet these needs is possible with the use of social distancing, use of outdoor space, and virtual programming.” 

The 14 seed grant recipients were chosen from a larger group of 20 organizations who were selected to participate in the multi-phase Catalyzing Creative Aging program, provided by the National Guild for Community Arts Education and Lifetime Arts. Between November 2019 and June 2020, staff and faculty from these organizations received training and coaching via workshops, webinars, and consultations designed to increase each organization’s capacity to serve older adults through skill-based, participatory arts programs. 

“Once again, National Guild members will be delivering innovative and responsive programs to older adults across the US,” said Lifetime Arts’ CEO Maura O’Malley. “We at Lifetime Arts are inspired by the level of inventiveness, the dedication and the passion these organizations display—especially in these challenging times. Congratulations to all.”

Catalyzing Creative Aging seed grants are made possible in part by generous support from Aroha Philanthropies and the NAMM Foundation.


The National Guild for Community Arts Education ensures all people have opportunities to maximize their creative potential by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and advocating for community arts education. Through these strategies, the Guild aims to address our country’s widening opportunity gap which leaves millions of individuals with little or no access to the creative resources they need to reach their full potential.

Lifetime Arts was founded in 2008 as a service organization with a singular goal: to enrich the lives of older adults through arts education. Lifetime Arts is the national leader in building the capacity of organizations, agencies, and individuals to initiate, develop, implement, and sustain professionally conducted Creative Aging programs for the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.