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Minnesota arts educators are well-trained to work with children. Now a nonprofit called ArtSage hopes to build a corps of arts educators and institutions that are trained to work with the special needs and skills of the elderly.

The movement is fueled by research showing that senior citizens working with skilled arts professionals showed decreases in medication, doctor visits and depression. In the past few weeks, Art Sage has announced grants to train both individual artists and key arts organizations to work with the elderly, and to offer several public training sessions statewide.

“Our goal is to create an army of arts-trained teachers and arts organization to provide meaningful arts experience for older adults,” said Tammy Hauser, interim executive director at ArtSage, formerly known as the Minnesota Creative Arts and Aging Network.

Participating individuals and organizations will receive an overview of the arts and aging field, including best practices for working with the elderly, she said. They’ll also learn how to build audiences, develop partnerships and design effective programs for older adults.

“They’ll learn how to adapt programs to people with memory loss and different disabilities,” said Hauser.

The eight arts organizations that will get more intensive training include the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, COMPAS in St. Paul, Caponi Art Park and Learning Center in Eagan and the Rosemount Area Arts Council.

Meanwhile, free community training sessions for artists and arts organizations will be held around the state Oct. 24-31.

The sessions are slated for St. Cloud, Fergus Falls, Austin, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids. Pre-registration is required.

It’s the second year that ArtSage has offered such training, which Hauser said meets a critical need in a state with a large and growing senior population.

Funding comes from a grant from the Minnesota Arts Board. Go to

Jean Hopfensperger 612 673-4511