Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Phoenix Art Museum help adults with Alzheimer’s benefit from The Arts

New October sessions open for enrollment

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scottsdale museum of contempary art logoSCOTTSDALE – The Arts Engagement Program is an on-going series offered by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and Phoenix Art Museum for those with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s and their care partners.

The program provides a dynamic opportunity for community members with Alzheimer’s disease (or other dementias) an expressive and beneficial means to experience the visual arts. Both art institutions are now opening enrollment for the fall session which begins the first week of October. Arts Engagement participants meet with specially trained docents six times over a three-month session period (every other week) for interactive tours of exhibitions at their chosen art venue. Tours are followed by engaging in-gallery discussions or creative hands-on activities.

The program provides a special chance for residents to participate in community events at two of the Valley’s unique culturalinstitutions: SMoCA or Phoenix Art Museum.

Former participants have reported many benefits, including the camaraderie of others in similar circumstances and the introduction of new places to visit and learn. Arts Engagement Program sessions are held at least twice per year at both art museums, with the next scheduled session to begin early February 2011.

SMoCA’s Associate Curator of Education Laura Hales has witnessed that “when folks are faced with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, their lives change dramatically. Often, they become isolated and focus their lives around medical appointments. Arts Engagement offers them a chance to spend time learning about and responding to art in a safe, accepting environment. Participants tell us that these events become high points on their calendars, and often report that their quality of life improves with their involvement in the program.”

Phoenix Art Museum Assistant Curator of Education Kristi McMillan explained, “We designed Arts Engagement Program with both the patient and care partner in mind. Patients benefit by tapping into those parts of the brain affected last by the disease – long-term memory, emotions, and senses. Care partners benefit by relaxing in an accepting environment, breaking up routines with fun activities and learning something new in the process. The connections made through this program – between patients and their care partners, as well as among the group as a whole – makes AEP one of the most worthwhile experiences in which staff and volunteers have ever participated.

Qualitative results in a two-year study of this program, sponsored by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute suggest that participants demonstrate more connectivity, less depression and an overall higher quality of life. As Laura Hales states, “People realize that life still has much to offer. We encourage them to learn to enjoy living in the moment.”

SMoCA, located at 7374 E. 2nd St. in Scottsdale, holds the fall session Oct. 5 through Dec. 21, 2010. (Fall session dates for SMoCA: Oct. 5, 19; Nov. 16, 30; Dec. 7, 21).

Phoenix Art Museum is located at 1625 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix; fall session takes place Oct.7 through Dec. 16, 2010. (Fall session dates for Phoenix: Oct. 7, 21; Nov. 4, 18; Dec. 2, 16).

Enrollment is limited and fees apply. Inquire about scholarship availability for sessions at SMoCA.

Participants must pre-register with the venue of their choice. For more information, please contact SMoCA at 480-874-4642 or Phoenix Art Museum at 602-307-2032.