Benefits and challenges of producing creative ageing programmes for the LGBTQIA+ community

© Image: Bianca Isofache Woman with her back to the camera is looking at a painting of a person in a black dress. The wall is also black which contrasts the woman's red dress.

© Image: Bianca Isofache

In an article for the American Alliance of Museums, Eli Burke, Education Director at MOCA Tucson, shares insights and lessons learned from developing creative ageing programmes for the LGBTQIA+ community.

The article highlights the importance of addressing ageism, building intergenerational connections, and creating inclusive environments in museum programmes. Eli Burke addresses how to build communities across different age groups and life experiences. Burke also underscores the transformative potential of creative ageing programmes in museums, particularly for marginalised communities like LGBTQIA+ elders, while also addressing the specific challenges and importance of fostering inclusive and supportive environments.

The article covers some good practise shares learnings from three programmes developed for the ageing LBGTQIA+ community:

  • School of Drag: An intergenerational gender performance programme fostering safe exploration of gender expression. Challenges included recruiting participants and representing diverse drag forms. The showcase event fostered strong community bonds.
  • Stay Gold: Focused on intergenerational connections within the LGBTQIA+ community, addressing loneliness and social isolation among older adults and youth. The programme format evolved from one-time projects to sequential skill-building, enhancing participant commitment and organic connection. One big lesson of this program was the power of creating spaces where gender and sexuality are not othered, but centred, allowing for learning without the distraction of feeling judged or like an outsider.
  • Armory Park: Aimed to remove mobility barriers by bringing the programme to a local senior centre. Issues of unwelcoming attitudes and discrimination emerged, leading to advocacy for a more inclusive environment.