Age and Creation

A practice journal of creative experience and aging

Arts Experience and Needs Survey

A screen snapshot of a question from a survey

direct[message] Research Team — October 2023

We had conversations with 30 older adults in three Ontario communities to understand their experience of arts and crafts, their preferences and goals around “artistic engagement”, and how their lives and social locations influence their interest in and the accessibility of the arts.

If you find that there are spaces or programs in your organization where older adults are not showing up despite your expectations, we invite you to do the same. To help, we offer the survey we used and our permission to use, adapt, and improve on it.

This is what we told participants we wanted to do:


Our team aims to develop a new digital technology for seniors. This technology will help seniors to access arts and crafts programs from their homes and communities. Between 2020 and 2021, we will be doing community-based research in the Hamilton, Guelph, and London areas. Through this research we hope to understand:

  • Seniors’ needs, desires, and barriers to participating in art/craft activities; and
  • How digital technology (including live video streaming) can be used to help seniors participate in art/craft activities

You are invited to take part in this study if:

  • You are a senior (usually over 60 years of age);
  • You are interested in the arts/crafts, but face some challenges in accessing them; and
  • You would like to help us develop a new digital technology that helps seniors access the arts

We encourage seniors from various communities to participate, including those who identify as:

  • Black, indigenous, or a person of colour;
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, intersex, or asexual; Newcomer immigrant or refugee; and
  • D/deaf, disabled, autistic, neurodivergent, or a person with cognitive challenges or differences.

These are the questions we asked:

Older Adults and Artistic Experience Community Survey (Google Doc)

A Google Docs version of the survey questions. Make a copy of this document and start adapting the example texts to your community.

LimeSurvey Structure File: Older Adults and Artistic Experience Community Survey

LimeSurvey survey structure file (.lss) of the community survey. Import this file into your self-hosted, institutional, or purchased LimeSurvey platform to get started adapting the survey to your context and community.

This is what we found:

We have created Seniors Art Link and Age and Creation as part of an effort to transform research findings like these into digestible, engaging assets that help older adults and the workers who connect them to the arts.

Direct[message] Administered Interactive Survey Research Report

Direct[message]: Access to Engagement for the Aging Community was a collaborative, community based, arts informed research project working with the three cities of Hamilton, London, and Guelph in Southwestern Ontario (Canada). The overarching goal of the project was to make artistic engagement (doing arts including folk art and crafting, appreciating art, and learning about artistic practices and artists) more accessible for older adults through the development of innovative digital technologies. The project employed a community-based co-design model that included a community-based research (CBR) component. The research served as a needs and wants evaluation to consider digital literacy capacities and the use of particular with a devices, platforms and applications currently used by older adults’ to access and participation in the community generally speaking and to develop a comprehensive understanding of how these technologies may be used to support participation and engagement in in a wide variety of artistic activities, programs and events. This information will be used to develop a platform and content resources to enhance older adults' engagement in the arts through digital technologies.

Tara La Rose, Michele Fisher, Cathy Paton, Suad Badri, Sheila O’Reily, Maggie Perquin, Kathy Smith, Colina Maxwell, Carmela Alfaro-Laganse, Becky Katz, Kusum Bhatta, Christina Luzius-Vanin, Simon Lebrun, David Bobier, and Jim Ruxton contributed to the work to arrive at these findings. We thank the older adults from Guelph, Hamilton, and London who generously provided their time and wisdom.