[8 October 2007 - Ithaca College - Ithaca, New York] Giving new meaning to “retirement,” Martha Graham danced until she was 75, Picasso painted into his 80s, and Antonio Stradivari was making his world-famous violins at 92. In order to better understand and explore the relationship between creativity and aging, especially as it applies to the arts, Ithaca College will open the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging on Thursday, Oct. 11. Lasting from 5 to 6:30 p.m., the ceremonies will include remarks by President Peggy R. Williams and others, as well as a performance by an intergenerational jazz duo. Housed in the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, the new center was established with an endowment from alumni couple Jay ’72 and Judith ’73 Linden.
“As life expectancies increase, Americans are increasingly expected to live active, stimulating lives into their golden years,” Jay Linden said. “Judi and I wanted to establish this center in the hope of encouraging interesting research on the relationship between the creative arts and an enhanced quality of life among older adults. We also think it’s important for students to understand the opportunities that the aging of the population creates for them in fields such as communications, business and health sciences.
“We wanted to establish the center at our alma mater because Ithaca College is uniquely suited for this enterprise,” Judith Linden added. “With its strong programs in music, theater, media and the arts, along with the distinctive strength of the Gerontology Institute, the college is well positioned to serve as a national resource for scholars, students and community partners to explore research and activities around creativity and aging.”
In addition to studying the impact of remaining vibrant while growing older, the Linden Center will develop community-linked programs involving elders exploring creative arts for the first time as well as engage students with elders through mentoring programs and other activities.
“Many people are now living into their 80s and 90s with reasonably good health,” said John Krout, professor of gerontology and director of the Gerontology Institute. “Because of this new demographic, we have a cultural imperative to explore and better understand how older people can continue to flourish creatively and remain engaged in and contribute to their communities. The Linden Center is unique because very few academic centers are engaged in studying creativity and aging with a focus on the humanities.”
The Gerontology Institute already has ways to engage elders and students together, Krout noted. Art shows featuring older artists, a comprehensive programmatic partnership with Longview that includes an Intergenerational Choir, and courses such as Creative Arts Methods for Older Adults are a few examples of the foundation the Linden Center will build on. Another exciting program is the Enduring Masters series, conducted jointly with the School of Music, which brings older musicians to campus to perform and give talks and master classes. The center will foster collaborations with local arts agencies to assist leaders, educators and performers in increasing the opportunities for would-be senior artists.
“There is a growing recognition among those who study aging that involvement in creative activities such as the arts can contribute significantly to well-being across a person’s life span,” said Krout. “The fact is, an older person doesn’t have to be Picasso to embark on new creative pursuits or continue lifelong creative endeavors. With the U.S. Census Bureau foretelling an enormous growth in the elder population by 2030, the Linden Center will be on the forefront of looking at the potential positive impacts of this historic national trend.”
Longtime advocates for Ithaca College, the Lindens have generously supported their alma mater since their graduation with several special gifts, including the Jay Linden Sales & Marketing Scholarship , and the Judi and Jay Linden Scholarship in Gerontology. Both are involved in creative fields themselves. Judith is the executive director of Midori & Friends, a nonprofit music education organization founded by the internationally renowned violinist Midori. Jay is executive vice president of NBC Universal’s Strategic Partnership Group, which works with advertisers to develop integrated media programs that address their key business objectives. More