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The Role of the Arts in Our Aging Societies

Scholarly Articles, etc., By Bruce DARLING

English version: The Role of the Arts in Improving the Quality of Life for Residents of Japanese Elder Care Facilities
(Journal of Kyushu University of Health and Welfare No. 1 March 25 2000)
The problem of how to improve the quality of life for residents of Japanese elder healthcare facilities calls for urgent responses, particularly in the national context of a rapidly aging society with an elderly population of increasingly discerning consumers with far greater economic and political power than past generations.  This discussion focuses on the role the arts can play in improving the personal lives of the residents of elder care facilities, beautifying the environment where these people live, and opening up ties between the elder care facilities and their residents with the surrounding community. Undoubtedly, many residents of these facilities throughout Japan would benefit from such improvements. Giving residents happiness and satisfaction, brightening up their surroundings, enlarging their social network--certainly if the arts can help accomplish any one of these, the quality of life of those concerned would be improved.

Residential Options for Creative Aging in American
Chapter 4, 2002 Grant-in-Aid Report, Ministry of Education / Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
This paper introduces the new “landscape of aging” that is providing a variety of options for residential living situations for the elderly to choose from. Independent living retirement communities, assisted-living facilities, continuous care communities, aging-in-place -- thoughtfully designed and managed living arrangements such as these with a resident-focused philosophy, contribute to promoting the creative potential of this new generation of older people. This alone helps to raise the quality of life for residents.

Creativity and Aging: What the Active Lives of Older Artists Can Tell Us
--The Mature Work of Yosa Buson and the Concept of “Late Style”--
Chapter 3, 2002 Grant-in-Aid Report, Ministry of Education / Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
This discussion of the mature work of Yosa Buson and the concept of “late style” begins with a brief biography of Buson’s early and middle years, then turns to Buson’s last decade and his mastery of three arts_haiku poetry, painting, calligraphy. The point is made that Buson remained creatively engaged in his art right up until he died. Emphatic evidence of this is Buson’s haiga, or “haiku-spirited painting,” discussed here in relation to the concept of “late style.” Clearly an older artist can look forward to continued personal growth and still additional artistic development. The implications of Buson’s late creativity are profound.
Selected Bibliography on Art and Creative Aging

William Morris: Art for a Just Society”
The Journal of International Media, Communication, and Tourism Studies 9 (2009): 61-78. Co-author: Masuyo Tokita Darling
This paper discusses William Morris's ideas about art, his involvement with socialism, and his vision of a just society. Morris believed that beauty, or in other words art, is inextricably linked with the cause of social justice. In his numerous lectures and writings Morris tells us what he means by a just society and suggests how to achieve it. Through the useful and beautiful merchandise produced by his company as well as his writings, he shows what such a world might look like. Above all, though, the very life Morris led embodied these ideas about art and society perhaps better than anything else. Indeed, Morris's concerns about the deterioration of our quality of life and the wanton destruction of the environment brought on by the industrial revolution and his vision of a desired just society enlivened with a meaningful role for art such as he showed us in News from Nowhere seem especially pertinent today in the early 21st century.

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