Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC), now in its third year, is a collaboration between New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Department for the Aging, and five borough art councils from across the city. It’s one and only goal is to brighten the lives of the local elderly population, bring them access to artists and art classes in senior centers. So far, artists in residence have been placed in senior centers in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Queens, and the program will expand soon. Hugely.
This year, SPARC’s budget has grown by $1 million. That money will let the program double the number of city-run senior centers they work with, placing new resident artists in new “creative aging” programs.
From January to June, artists from any discipline are placed with centers across the city and encouraged to pursue their own projects. Theater, writing, painting, sculpture, photography, and music have all been represented, so far. The artists pair their own work with teaching and running workshops at the center. Each residency ends in a public program or performance, bringing the seniors’ art to their local communities.
New York City has more than a million residents who qualify as “senior,” and that number is ever-growing right along with the city. Often called the invisible population, seniors need programs like this, which increase both their quality of life and their social visibility.
“New York is the creative capital of the world,” according to NYC Mayor de Blasio. That legacy needs to be available to everyone there, of any age.
Resident artists are selected through a competitive, juried application and review process. Submissions were due in November, and placement seminars will pair the right artist with the right center, to begin work in January 2016.