New Mexico Arts

New Mexico Arts is the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The 15-member governor-appointed New Mexico Arts Commission serves as our advisory body. Our primary function is to provide financial support for arts services and programs to non-profit organizations statewide and to administer the 1% public art program for the state of New Mexico.

For more than a decade New Mexico Arts has funded non-profit organizations or social service organizations in our Arts in Social Service funding category. These arts-based projects focus on addressing social issues with a primary purpose of reaching specific populations (people who are incarcerated, homeless, abused, ill, elderly, veterans, etc.) or foster artistic activity that formally encourages civic dialogues on important social issues (the environment, crime, aging, etc.).

Creative Aging Profile

One of the highlights of the creative aging field is Lifesongs, a program at the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, NM, is an intergenerational arts program that engages communities to heal the fear that shrouds aging, illness, and death. Through relationships, storytelling, music, and performance, Lifesongs promotes dignity and inclusion for our elders. Working one-on-one and in ensembles, participants develop original works that incorporate music, movement, and multimedia to explore the richness of all stages of life. After many months of collaboration, the pieces are performed in a public concert by professional musicians, local choirs, and artists of all ages. Through witnessing our elders’ songs and stories, we connect around what we share as opposed to what separates us, we bless and heal the past, and we hold our elders and the dying in their potential rather than their decline.

In addition to public performances and scalable concerts, Lifesongs provides free and public facilitated dialogues on death and dying with community partners. Since 2015, the Story Gathering project brings youth, community members, and elders together to share stories and life experiences. Participants collaboratively shape stories into new works of writing and art to present to the wider community. While deepening its roots in northern New Mexico, Lifesongs is carefully fostering and mentoring projects in other communities around the country.

Additional Resources

Funding throughout New Mexico:


The projected census data for New Mexico at the time was staggering and continues to be so. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between the years of 2010 and 2050, the number of U.S. adults aged 65 and older is projected to rise to 88.5 million individuals, more than double the number of those over the age of 65 in 2010. New Mexico is projected to experience a more rapid growth in this age range, moving it from a state with one of the lowest percentages of elders to having one of the highest by the year 2030. According to the 2010 census figures, the percentage of New Mexico’s population that is age 65 or older is 13.2%, up from 11.7% in 2000. At the same time, the percent of the population under the age of 19 is decreasing, moving from 31.1% in 2000 to 28.2% in 2010. Based on 2010 census projections, New Mexico will move from 16th in the nation to 4th in the percentage of people over the age of 65 by 2030.

Creative Aging Point Person

Phyllis Kennedy

Phyllis Kennedy is a Program Coordinator responsible for grants in the categories of Arts & Education, Arts in Social Services, and Colleges, Universities, and Government Entities. She also coordinates the New Mexico Poetry Out Loud recitation contest, an annual event with a state final held at the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe each winter. Her background and degrees are in the visual arts—BFA printmaking from Rochester Institute of Technology and MA photography from New York University. After completing her masters, she moved to New Mexico and began a career as a practicing artist. The nineties brought marriage and motherhood. Then came a return to citizen advocacy which she had not explored since high school. She loves art and politics and was able to combine them in her legislative advocacy work with hundreds of stakeholders to restore New Mexico’s elementary fine arts programs.

In addition to her fine arts degrees Phyllis holds a New Mexico elementary teaching license with K-8 visual art endorsement and a Montessori Early Childhood credential. She taught visual art in a public charter school for five years. She enjoys research and writing, walking the occasional 20K, and birding. Her photographs are in the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Albuquerque Sunport Collection.