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Founded in 1979, Elders Share the Arts (ESTA) is dedicated to bridging generational divides and generating a sense of community through the arts. Our staff of professional artists works in under resourced neighborhoods to transform participants’ life stories into dramatic, literary, and visual presentations that explore social issues, shed light on neighborhood history, and address community issues and conflicts.
ESTA helped pioneer the field of creative aging, focusing on the role of art in enhancing the quality of life of older adults. This field has shifted away from a deficit model of aging; it recognizes that old age is actually a time of abundant but untapped potential for personal growth and enhanced well-being. Building on that momentum, ESTA was a study site for a national research project on the impact of the arts on older adults, commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. It proved when older adults participate in professionally conducted arts programs they live healthier lives.
In keeping with our mission, ESTA conducts 30 multi-disciplinary arts residencies designed to increase the creative capacity of older adults and to link youth and elders together in mutually beneficial learning experiences every year. Annually, ESTA serves 1,200 older adults and youth directly. All of ESTA’s programs end with a final event that are free and open to the public, and serves an additional 2,800 youth, adults, and elders.