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Study on Aging Artists in New York City and Los Angeles

A new study entitled STILL KICKING - Aging Performing Artists in New York City and Los Angeles Metro Areas: Information on Artists IV conducted by the Research Centre for the Arts and Culture (RCAC) at Teachers College Columbia University is the first assessment of aging performing artists in the New York and Los Angeles metro area. The study investigated how performing artists - who often reach artistic maturity and artistic satisfaction as they age - are supported and integrated within their communities, and how their network structures change over time.

Two hundred thirty artists (actors, dancers, choreographers, musicians and singers) aged 62-97 participated in the interviews. The research report shows that typical aging artists contradict stereotypes. They are passionate about their work; they feel validated as artists and rank high in life satisfaction and self-esteem. 86% of NYC artists and 92% of LA artists would choose to be an artist's again. More then half of the artists communicate daily or weekly with other artists and continue to be working artists. However, the report shows that performers may work under the jurisdiction of several different unions and still not qualify for health and pension benefits. On the average, aging visual artists and performers are 73-75 years old, live alone in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized housing, earn money through their art and have no plans to leave the metro area. They are usually educated beyond high school (BA or MA Degree), they belong to the performing arts union, have health insurance, take more artistic risks and have a deeper creative experience than when younger.

The study provides recommendations, including suggestions for performers' unions to provide better data on their aging members, and strategies for delivering health care and pension system to members who may be ineligible. The artists themselves emphasized the need for resources, housing, places to network with their peers, and more cultural activity in senior centres.

For more information contact: Joan Jeffri, Director of Research Center for Arts and Culture, Teachers College, Columbia University; Box 78, 525 West 120th Street; New York, NY 10027; tel.: +212-678-8184 or +212-678-3271; fax: +212-678-4048; e-mail: rcac@columbia.edu; www.tc.edu/rcac