Age and Creation

A practice journal of creative experience and aging

A Practice Journal for Creative Aging

An older adult's hands are seen as he carves a block of wood. A camera is capturing his work and displaying it on a laptop screen.

Colina Maxwell, Editor-in-chief, Age and Creation

Welcome to the first issue of Age and Creation!

This journal is the product of a five-year investment by the Canada Council for the Arts, our national arts funder, into the health and happiness of older adults. In the inaugural issue we focus on the practical lessons and resources that arose in that time, but we hope the purview of this journal will quickly go beyond that project and one organization’s perspective.

We introduce Age and Creation as a practice journal, in contrast with an academic journal or a trade magazine, because it’s what we sought for ourselves over five years of lit review, iteration, and knowledge mobilization:


What it means to researchers

What it meant for us

literature (“lit”) review

A summary and explanation of the current state of knowledge on a focused topic as found in academic books, journal articles and all other sources connected to the subject of study. (McMaster University Library)Don’t reinvent the wheel. If there’s something from other cities, provinces, or countries that is working to engage older adults with arts and technology, let’s use that. If a question is answered by someone else, let’s tackle the next question.


An approach in which the content of the discussion, stimulus, or sometimes even the methodology is adapted over the course of the research program. Learning from initial research sessions is used to influence the inputs for subsequent interviews. (The Association for Qualitative Research)Trial and error. Have you ever told a funder what you’re going to do for three years, and then compare that to what you’re actually doing three years down the road? Use what you’ve already learned to develop an even better next step within the same project.

knowledge mobilization

An umbrella term encompassing a wide range of activities relating to the production and use of research results, including knowledge synthesis, dissemination, transfer, exchange, and co-creation or co-production by researchers and knowledge users. (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)Get what you learned into the hands of someone who can make a difference with it. If a peer-reviewed article in a widely-cited scholarly journal isn’t going to help a part time events coordinator at a rural arts centre increase the number of seniors joining their community programs, what will? (The answer is not the same for all the different types of people that could make a difference, either.)


We were fortunate to work directly with experienced researchers at two Ontario universities who helped our community-based project team navigate complicated concepts like research ethics approval, informed consent, facilitation, data management, qualitative data analysis, academic-quality reporting and peer-reviewed publication. This produced scholarly works that contributed to the literature (e.g., this article in Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies) but posed a new problem: did we expect artists working in the community with older adults to read a series of rigorous academic articles

As the executive director of an artist-run centre in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), let me assure you that I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like. And the program developers and artist-facilitators in our centre do all they can to make sure the experiences we’re offering to older adults in our community are appealing and rewarding, but they are pulled in all directions. If we expected to meet our project objective of improving access to artistic experiences for older adults in more than the three cities the project served, we desperately needed a way to share resources, promising practices, and ongoing conversations with people just like us.

An academic or scholarly journal usually publishes articles produced by professors and experts which report on research executed to a particular (and onerous) standard. These articles undergo an extensive review process and are supported by a web of citations to other scholarly articles.

A practice journal has a different purpose, style, and audience:


Improve professional practice within a specific field.

Style and content

Language that is clear and concise, catering to a broad range of practitioners with varying levels of expertise. Practical advice, case studies, and real-world experiences to help practitioners enhance their skills and knowledge.


Practicing professionals who want to stay updated on the trends and best practices in their field. People who will implement the lessons and build on them in the community.

Review process

Shorter and often less demanding. Articles might be reviewed by editors or practitioners with relevant expertise, but the emphasis is on practical value and relevance to the field, not necessarily on rigorous research methodology.

Practice and academic journals can be complementary. Practice journals can translate academic research into practical applications. Conversely, insights from practice journals can inform future academic research questions. Our project was poised to publish in both types of journals, but our artists and community partners, by and large, were best equipped to contribute to and benefit from a practice journal. The problem was, we couldn’t find one.

So we made this one.

Age and Creation

My first idea for a name for this journal was De-Code It, sparked by one of our researchers explaining an esoteric process relating to de-identification in qualitative data analysis. The idea of breaking down some of the concepts in use in scholarly activities — in this case hierarchical “coding” of themes discussed in an interview — by “de-coding” them into language that any older adult or member of our community could understand seemed to exactly fit what we were attempting to do.

After some discussion we concluded that a title that wasn’t plainly self-explanatory, that itself needed de-coding, might miss the mark. We hope to publish something that anyone can see themselves in, and especially that harried community-located artists could get excited about. Age and Creation: practical information and ready-to-use resources useful to a wide range of readers who are engaged in the promotion of older adult wellness.

We hope you will find this issue engaging, and we hope it will inspire you to share the triumphs, disappointments, and lessons of your own work within the older adult experience and its intersection with access to artistic expression of all kinds.

Colina Maxwell is a practicing visual artist and the co-founder and Executive Director of Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice. The centre has helped fuel a growing arts community in Hamilton. She meaningfully engages the core of our community through boundary-breaking contemporary art and pushing the barriers in presentation, education, and community arts. In 2011, Colina was awarded the City of Hamilton’s Arts Management award, and in 2013, she was awarded the Women of Distinction award for Art and Culture. As a feminist and an artist, Maxwell’s artwork is politically charged, exploring gender, social constructs, and labour.