Local teaching artists picked for Creative Aging Ohio Initiative

A pair of local teaching artists are among 25 Ohio creatives selected for a new initiative focused on bringing art-making experiences to older adults in the state’s underserved and historically marginalized communities.

Carol Tyler of Cincinnati – known for beautifully drawn autobiographical comics – and Trotwood-based playwright Joyce Barnes are part of Ohio Arts Council’s Building Bridges to Sustained Communities effort.

The program is an extension of the Ohio Intensive Creative Aging Training Initiative from 2021 to 2023, during which an initial cohort of 25 teaching artists received training and conducted residencies at host sites around the state.

This newest crop of teaching artists, who represent a range of artistic disciplines, will take part in intensive training facilitated by Lifetime Arts, a national leader in skill-based, creative programs and services for older adults.

Following the training, the teaching artists will work with program host sites to conduct activities in the second half of 2024. The majority of sites will be existing facilities and organizations where participants are already receiving services or take part in programming, such as senior centers and libraries.

OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins said this new class represents a significant milestone in statewide efforts to build capacity to deliver “impactful programming to historically marginalized communities across Ohio. She described the training as equipping all 25 artists with skills to “engage and inspire older adults in underserved areas, ensuring that everyone has access to the transformative power of the arts.”

“From urban centers to rural areas, these teaching artists represent a breadth of perspectives and talents that will empower communities throughout Ohio and make for a truly statewide creative aging movement,” Collins added.

Supporting Ohio’s older adults through art

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. It created the Building Bridges to Sustained Communities as the next phase of its Creative Aging Ohio effort, which began in 2013.

Funding for the training came from the States Leading Creative Aging program, presented by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and E.A. Michelson Philanthropy. Ohio, which was one of just nine states selected for this national grant program, secured the highest potential award of $95,000 to provide professional development for teaching artists and direct programming to older adult audiences.

Through the Building Bridges to Sustained Communities effort, provided grant funding to create and expand programs that engaged older adults in the visual arts, dance, music, writing and theater. The group of selected arts hail from diverse geographies across the state, largely coming from Athens, Franklin and Lucas counties.

Donna S. Collins

Tyler and Barnes are from Hamilton County and Montgomery Country, respectively. Below are descriptions of both of them.

As a group, Tyler, Barnes and the other program participants will collaborate with local program host sites to plan eight, 90-minute sessions using skills developed during training, and they will also assist in planning for the long-term sustainability of creative aging efforts in Ohio. Information about specific projects between teaching artists and program host sites aren’t yet available.

Collins said the Building Bridges to Sustained Communities initiative represents an important investment in expanding lifelong arts education opportunities. 

“By investing in the professional development of these teaching artists, we’re enriching their skills and empowering them to uplift the voices and stories of older adults in every corner of our state,” Collins said.

Meet the local artists

  • Carol Tyler writes and draws autobiographical comics. She is one of the most significant and influential artists to come out of the Alternative Comics movement of the 1980s. Her solo books are “Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand my WWII Veteran Father” and “Fab4 Mania: A Beatles Obsession and the Concert of a Lifetime.” She’s working a new book, “The Ephemerata: Shaping the Exquisite Nature of My Grief.” Carol has taught courses on visual storytelling at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and workshops to individuals and groups through the Ohio Arts Council.
  • Joyce Barnes is a novelist, playwright and theater director whose works include intergenerational, multicultural casts that recreate stories from the African American diaspora experience. She has authored novels for young readers, a Civil War novel and dramas performed in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., as well as Columbus, Dayton, Springfield and Xenia in Ohio. Over the past two years, she has offered theater classes and performance opportunities for children and adults, including older adults pursuing their passion for acting. Joyce teaches composition and literature at Sinclair College and previously hosted a playwright competition at Sinclair open to students and community members.

Ohio Arts Council

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