Some Thoughts from Outgoing ArtSage
Executive Director Tammy Hauser
BLUE SKY THINKING : ARTS, CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT CONSULTANTS
As Executive Director Tammy Hauser prepares to leave ArtSage June 30 to continue work with Blue Sky Thinking, her consulting firm for nonprofit arts, culture and entertainment clients, she reflects on a few of the changes over the past three years:
When Pat Samples, co-founder of the MN Creative Arts and Aging Network (MNCAAN) called me in 2012 to create a business plan, I could not foresee the impact that this small grassroots organization would have on the field three years later. Who knew that a call for a business plan would launch a creative aging movement?
We began the change process with an organizational audit and conducted interviews with clients, colleagues, funders and local and national experts. As we began to understand the ecology, players, and programs in the field of arts and aging, we realized that what was lacking in Minnesota was an umbrella organization that could connect people working in arts and aging, convene them so that they might to learn from each other—and seed a movement of shared best practices.
ArtSage could catalyze the arts and aging community, developing high-quality arts programming that would increase the number of trained teaching artists delivering arts experiences to older adults and expanding the desire for that programming—at senior housing, care facilities and community organizations serving older adults. We envisioned our new role as systems-wide change agent rather than simply a competing program provider.
We came up with a new name, ArtSage, created a beautiful logo, branding templates, website, and language to describe who we were and what we wanted to do, and we worked to maintain this new brand identity across all communications and marketing channels.
With generous funding from two key partners, the Minnesota State Arts Board and Aroha Philanthropies, we were able to launch a three-year Teaching Artist Training Initiative that also served arts organization teams, and included community engagement workshops we called “Intro to Arts & Aging.” Aroha Philanthropies also provided operating support, which paid for our consulting fees as a virtual management team for the newly relaunched nonprofit.
As our training became better known, ArtSage became a nationally-recognized leader in the arts and aging field. All of our training is based on an interdisciplinary model that uses all modes of learning (sensory, kinetic, experiential and memory-based). There is no other program like it, which also combines mentorship, in-person and online training, self-guided workbook, a Showcase marketing opportunity for artists, plus site visits and teaching practicums.
In addition to raising more than $677,000 to support arts and aging development in Minnesota over the past three years, Blue Sky Thinking team members and ArtSage presenters have also:
- Trained 106 teaching artists
- Trained 24 arts organizations
- Delivered 10 Intro to Aging Workshops serving 1,000 people across Minnesota
- Hosted 2 Annual Arts & Aging Conferences
- Found, hired & managed 25 contractors, trainers and presenters
- Recreated a Membership program, growing it to 80+
- Rebranded MNCAAN to ArtSage, including name, logo, website, graphics, and all communications and marketing materials
- Developed all ArtSage financial, operational systems and processes
- Grown the ArtSage database from 700 to 7,500 contacts
- Issued 7 Newsletters & 9 Issues Briefs
- Produced 2 ArtSage videos
- Created branded program brochures and marketing pieces
- Represented ArtSage at 7 state and national conferences
As I look back over our accomplishments of the past three years, I must thank all of the wonderful artists who embraced the ArtSage ideal of healthy aging through the arts: Jeanie Brindley-Barnett of MacPhail Center for Music, who became Lead Mentor and helped to develop the training program and our workshops in collaboration with several other key mentors and partners: Andrea Lewandoski, Joey Clark, Maria Genné, Jeanne Bayer, and Jane Tygesson. Over the years, additional teaching artists, mentors, arts partners, and experts joined us: Zoë Bird, Heather Bunch, Sandra Menefee Taylor, Michèle Coppin, Jim Tift, Parker Genné, Iris Shiraishi, Lucy Rose Fisher, the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project-MN, and Kairos ALIVE!, among others.
We’ve had wonderful collaborators from the national stage as well: Susan Perlstein of the National Center for Creative Aging and Elders Share the Arts, Maura O’Malley of Lifetime Arts, Gary Glazner of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, Anne Basting of TimeSlips, Stuart Kandell of Stagebridge Senior Theatre, Tim Carpenter of EngAGE, and Jorge Merced of Pregones Theater, to name just a few.
Huge thanks are due to Megan Buchanan, Erin Hart, and Claire Chamberlin, for helping me to manage ArtSage through many program developments and changes over the past three years.
As we turn the page on June 30, I’m sad to say goodbye to ArtSage, but excited for its next phase and grateful to have played a part in its success.