New York State Council on the Arts

The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) champions community and creativity by preserving and advancing numerous aspects of the cultural heritage that makes New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit. These aims are primarily achieved through the agency’s grant-making activity. Annually, the agency awards $41 Million to more than 1,200 organizations statewide.

The projects, artists and organizations NYSCA supports underscore the diversity and scope of the State’s residents and visitors. From New York City’s landmarks to traditional artisans in the North Country, from international dance companies to teaching artists in inner-city schools, the impact of the agency’s funding can be seen in each of the State’s 62 counties.  Annually, NYSCA’s funding helps to engage new audiences, including schoolchildren; drive artistic excellence and innovation; and build organizational capacity for organizations specializing in visual, performing, media and literary arts.

Created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1960, and continued and expanded to the present day with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, NYSCA is an agency of the Executive Branch of the New York State Government. 

Creative Aging Profile

NYSCA is committed to giving seniors access to all that the arts have to offer through all fifteen of its discipline-based programs, plus the Regional Economic Development Council initiative – from Architecture + Design, Visual Arts and Museums, to Music, Dance, Theatre, Presenting, Electronic Media and Film, Literature and Folk Arts. The agency’s Arts Education program supports sequential arts instruction in community-based settings for participants of all ages, and is proud to fund leaders in the field of creative aging, including Lifetime Arts and Elders Share the Arts. Classes and workshops for seniors are also supported through the agency’s Special Arts Services program and its State and Local Partnership program, including a statewide regrant initiative. Finally, the agency’s Facilities program is committed to helping grantees maintain accessible buildings that promote age-friendly design.

Agency Initiative

In 2017, NYSCA is partnering with Elders Share the Arts and the Monroe County Office for the Aging, the Rochester-area office for the New York State Office for the Aging, on a creative aging project connecting area teaching artists with senior centers. This project is modeled after a similar initiative that Elders Share the Arts facilitated in Pennsylvania. Four teaching artists were selected to work with four senior centers in designing and implementing a sequential arts workshop together. Elders Share the Arts Staff facilitated a training for all participants, and provided support as the residencies progressed. Two suburban senior centers and two urban senior centers participated, including one serving Spanish-speakers. The teaching artists chosen represented four different disciplines: music, theatre, visual arts, and storytelling. All workshops followed a key principle put forward by Elders Share the Arts: that seniors bring a lifetime of rich memories to their creative endeavors.

List of Resources & Tools

Noteworthy NYSCA grantees working in creative aging include:

Elders Share the Arts: 

Lifetime Arts:

Additional Resources

New York State Office for the Aging

Monroe County Office for the Aging


New York State is home to more than 19 million residents, living in rural, urban and suburban communities. New York State is home to the third-largest elderly population in nation. Currently, there are more than 2.6 million New Yorkers over the age of 65, and that number is only expected to grow.

New York’s total population is over 19 million individuals, and with 3.7 million individuals aged 60 and older, the State ranks third in the nation in the number of older adults. Rich in ethnic, racial, religious/spiritual, cultural and life-style diversity, New York is known for its status as a finance, transportation, and manufacturing center, as well as for its history as a gateway for immigration to the United States. According to the 2008 American Community Survey, nearly 22 percent of the population is foreign-born, with 29 percent of the population speaking a language other than English at home.

Information is taken from NYS Plan on Aging

Creative Aging Point Person

Christine Leahy

Arts Program Director
Arts Education | Facilities