Creative Aging Festival’s Julie Hill. Photo by Erin Stephenson


Julie Hill wants to change society’s perception of the elderly. As a certified teaching artist for the elderly, life enrichment director at Bell Trace Senior Living Community, and a member of the City of Bloomington Commission on Aging, Hill believes that, despite what many think, “people can tap their creative potential until their last day.”

Hill’s brainchild, Bloomington’s annual Creative Aging Festival sponsored by the Commission on Aging, will be staged for the sixth time throughout May, which is designated Older Americans Month. “It’s the first such festival in the country,” says Hill.

Ireland’s Bealtaine Festival inspired Hill. So did the late Dr. Gene Cohen, a geriatric psychiatrist, and Susan Perlstein, founder of the National Center for Creative Aging, who established that creative pursuits keep the elderly engaged.

Though the festival has grown since 2011, its objectives remain the same: to showcase elder artists, promote intergenerational understanding, and increase awareness of the value of creative engagement to adult health and well-being.

With additional sponsorship by Comfort Keepers of Bloomington, the Indiana University Center on Aging and Community, IU Health, and Bell Trace, this year’s festival will feature more than 40 events.

Krista Detor and guests will perform “Canopy of Stars,” an intergenerational song co-written by seniors, at Bell Trace on May 20 and again at the Indiana Memorial Union’s Frangipani Room on May 21. Detor will also co-present with Hill on the role of the teaching artist as part of an Art of Aging workshop sponsored by the IU Center on Aging and Community, which will feature workshops on music’s power on the brain and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.

Other highlights include the 50+ Expo at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center on May 11, the NICHE Geriatric Conference for families of Alzheimer’s patients and medical professionals at the IU Health Bloomington Hospital on May 20, and a variety of performances and exhibitions by elder artists throughout the month.

“We want to see creative aging woven into the fabric of community,” says Hill. “We need sponsors, supporters, and benefactors.”

Call 812-332-2355 to volunteer or 812-349-3468 to pledge support.