Meryl Klein founded Creative Aging in Memphis in 2003 and 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 improves older adults' health and well-being.
Beginning with a few dedicated artists and committed senior communities, Creative Aging's inspiring arts programs quickly expanded. From 5 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 115 active, professional artists now on its roster, Creative Aging brings music and arts experiences to 70 senior communities plus dozens of other community locations in the greater Memphis metropolitan region.
In 2016, Creative Aging added the Senior Arts Series. Reaching seniors “aging in place”, the Senior Arts Series is now in its 5th season and offers diverse musical and theatrical programming for senior audiences. Presented on Theatre Memphis’ Main Stage, the Series connects Memphis' finest arts organizations and individual artists to seniors at an accessible venue for daytime, $5 performances.
Creative Aging added Senior Studio courses in 2019. These lifelong learning classes, grounded in over 15 arts disciplines, offer seniors opportunities to learn new skills from experienced teaching artists while building community. The program has grown dramatically since its inception, with over 65 courses taught in 2020 (many by Zoom).
With each new program and every additional senior reached, Creative Aging continues to pursue its fundamental mission of enhancing seniors' lives through the arts.