SPARC: Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide is a City-wide initiative of the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Department for the Aging which brings unlikely populations together while improving the quality of life for many New Yorkers. An arts engagement program, SPARC has placed 50 artists-in-residence in 44 senior centers across all five boroughs, linking artists to senior centers and their neighbors. As a part of the residency, SPARC artists have also had access to materials at MFTA and used a wide array of our donated items to create their work.
With the goal of reinvigorating senior centers as vital community spaces, SPARC has many benefits. The program helps to meet the growing demand for artist workspace by providing SPARC residents with access to space in senior centers. Participating seniors are engaged in an art project or series of cultural programs over the course of the residencies. And this June and July the public is also invited to experience the work, as each artist will present free events open to their surrounding community, featuring their art projects or the senior participants.
When asked how her involvement with MFTA has enriched the work she’s been doing with seniors, here’s what Julie Kline, a SPARC artist-in-residence, had to say:
MFTA has been imperative to the creation of the entire set for our performance. Almost every piece was acquired for free at MFTA and has let me use the rest of my materials budget to enhance the show with more oral history recordings of the seniors and to even hire a special stand-up comedy coach! Besides that, my visits to MFTA have been inspiring – the special permission to partake of the materials has made me feel especially supported as a SPARC artist, and seeing all that is available there inspired me to think about the myriad ways I could create what I needed for the show.
Julie’s seniors will present “Seniors and the City,” a theatrical performance based on their experiences in New York City past and present that integrates song, dance and oral history, on Friday, June 15, 2012 from 7-9PM and Saturday, June 16 from 2-4PM at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Senior Center in Manhattan.
The SPARC program was developed in 2009 as part of the Mayor’s Age-Friendly NYC initiative, and is supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It is a collaboration between the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department for the Aging and the City’s five local arts councils. For more information or to find a SPARC event near you, visit www.nyc.gov/culture.
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