ARTZ recruits and trains volunteer artists to perform and work side by side with people living with Alzheimer’s. This hands-on program brings artists of all kinds, such as painters, singers, actors, comedians, and belly dancers, into small group contact with people living with Alzheimer’s, enabling strong emotional connections to take place.
Volunteers are varied in their technical skills and formal training (or lack thereof)—from amateur enthusiasts to world-class performers. The ARTZ program sees “art” as anything that is done artistically—that is, with creativity, passion, and selflessness. Yes this could mean what is commonly thought of as “art,” – painting, singing, poetry and dancing; but it can also include:
• sharing the joys of cooking and fine cuisine
• leading a discussion on growing up in the 1930’s and 40’s
• presenting a slide-show of places visited around the world
• utilizing antiques for a discussion and reminiscence
The main criteria for becoming an ARTZ volunteer–
A sincere desire to make an emotional connection with
someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s it!
Individual volunteer efforts sometimes go beyond a single
performance, these efforts have resulted in the following:
• Selecting art works by people living with Alzheimer’s to be exhibited at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, Banner Health Care of Arizona, the Alzheimer’s Associations of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Merck Research Laboratories in Boston, and the 2008 European Union Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Paris.
• Producing ‘I’m Still Here’ a play about early stage Alzheimer’s disease that was performed
throughout the Northeast US, and ‘To Whom I May Concern’, a play written and performed by people living with Alzheimer’s disease, that was showcased at the 2005 NYC Alzheimer’s Association Early Stage conference. (sponsored in 2007 by a grant from Johnson & Johnson and the Society for Arts in Healthcare.)
• The Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut chapters hosting, “LIVING with Alzheimer’s Disease,” a photography exhibit that showcases the dignity, joy, and creativity of people living with Alzheimer’s. This project was a collaboration between ARTZ and ARTZ Artist-in-Residence Cat Cutillo.