The Creative Aging Festival returns to Fairfax County for its third year

Celebrating senior artists and championing the benefits arts programs can have on aging, the festival will offer free countywide workshops on improv theater, African drumming, painting, poetry and more.

Emmanuel (Kofi) Dennis presents African Drumming and Poly Rhythms during the 2016 Creative Aging Festival / Photo courtesy of Arts Council of Fairfax County
Emmanuel “Kofi” Dennis presents African drumming and poly rhythms at the 2016 Creative Aging Festival / Photo courtesy of the Arts Council of Fairfax County

Throughout the month of May, Fairfax County will celebrate and recognize senior artists and champion the benefits arts programs can have on the aging process.

Coinciding with Older Americans Month, the Art Council of Fairfax County and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services have partnered for the third annual Creative Aging Festival, which offers more than 60 free arts programs to area seniors. The classes, workshops and performances span disciplines from visual arts to theater and culinary arts to creative writing.

“The Creative Aging Festival blossomed out of Fairfax County’s 50+ Action Plan’s Arts Initiative,” said Julie Ellis, the director of Hollin Hall Senior Center for Creative Retirement. “We’re proud to see how the festival activities celebrate the arts and positively impact the growing population of older adults in Fairfax County year after year.”

A 2006 report conducted by George Washington University studied the effect the arts can have on aging, and it found that older adults who participated in the arts experienced improvement in their overall health, including fewer doctors visits, fewer falls, improvement in their morale and fewer cases of depression and loneliness.

“Arts programs are vital for older adults to sustain well-being and quality of life through social engagement, physical and mental health and aesthetic fulfillment,” said Linda S. Sullivan, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

Many of the Creative Aging Festival events are collaborations with local artists and art organizations. NextStop Theater Company will host an improv class at Little River Glen Senior Center on May 26. D.C. musician and teacher Curtis Blues will helm a series of classes on acoustic Mississippi Delta blues on May 8, 15 and 23. And a class on African drumming and polyrhythms, led by Kofi Dennis, a teaching artist with Wolf Trap, will take place May 18 at Pimmit Hills Senior Center.

“Drumming has a capacity to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain in order to bring about a whole-body experience that creates focus as well as balance,” Dennis said. 

Other festival workshops focus on belly dancing, stained glass-making, Chinese painting, knitting, poetry, storytelling, singing and more. Find a complete schedule right here.

The festival will take place all across Fairfax County at 21 senior and community centers. Likewise, each week of the festival will focus on a different region within the county. Through May 9, events will take place in South Fairfax, followed by East Fairfax from May 7-12, North Fairfax from May 15-19 and West Fairfax from May 17-26.