Meryl Klein founded Creative Aging in Memphis in 2003 and continued to lead the organization until her retirement in 2017. With seed money from Sister Armin Cooper and the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ms. Klein pursued her dream of bringing music and the arts to seniors who were no longer able to leave their homes or communities. In partnership with a dedicated inaugural Board of Directors, Ms. Klein believed what science—only then emerging—would later prove: arts engagement can improve older adults' health and well-being.
Beginning with a handful of dedicated artists and committed senior communities, Creative Aging's inspiring and meaningful arts programs quickly took off. From 5 participating artists and senior communities in 2004 to 30 communities in 2005 and 40 communities by 2007, the number of seniors served and artists engaged continues to grow. With over 80 active, professional artists now on its roster, Creative Aging brings music and arts experiences to 60 senior communities in the greater Memphis metropolitan region.
In 2016, Creative Aging added a major new program, the Senior Arts Series. Designed to reach seniors “aging in place”, the Senior Arts Series is now in its third season and offers 8 events annually. The Series includes diverse musical and theatrical programming targeted toward senior audiences. Presented on Theatre Memphis’ Main Stage, the Series brings community arts groups and individual artists to an accessible venue during the day—all for a $5 donation.
As it continues to grow, with each new program added and each new senior reached, Creative Aging’s simple mission of enhancing lives through the arts remains the same.