We have 17 years of program history that shows how art making improves health.

Showcase Projects:

  • 2023
  • 2022
  • 2020-2021
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2006 – 2013

2023 Arts & Health Exhibition and Celebration

For 2023, we were thrilled to return to an in-person Exhibition and Celebration after three years of pandemic pivots, including workshops and our traditional sit-down lunch.  The Exhibition featured artworks made in person, online, over the phone, and snail mail, all offering unique snapshots into the groups’ artistic practices.  Congratulations and thank you to all.



What are you hungry for?

For 2022, we weren’t ready yet for a large in-person gathering like our traditional annual Exhibition and Gala Showcase.  Once again our art practices were there to support us through another pandemic pivot, and a new video project got us creating, connecting, and celebrating together.

How it worked: Each participating Arts & Health group had a couple of weeks to reflect on the question, what are you hungry for?  Then they were match-made with a video artist, who created a short video vignette out of their responses. In June 2022, we came together for an online watch party to share and celebrate the results- you can see them all here.

Like any creative process might, this art-making pressure cooker contained creative puzzles, tech woes, recording mishaps, tight deadlines- and also, meaningful and moving conversations, beauty, and a fair amount of hilarity. Our guiding values were ease and pleasure. And while it couldn’t replace the depth of our traditional Exhibition and Gala Showcase, where each group shares what they’ve been working on all year, it did create an opportunity for us to make new discoveries about ourselves, each other, and collaborative creation process.

A huge thank you to all the participants, artists and staff who made it happen, including a rock star production team:  Caroline Liffmann, Stephen Adams, Daniel Tessy, Annie Cavanagh, Oliver-MacTavish Wisden, Joel Gomez, Calvin Hunt, Erica Isomura, Doris Chow, Sarah Cavanaugh, Anne Yue, Katherine To, Ravi Hundal, Anne Cowan, Kya Prince and Daniel Cook.  Spring Gillard and Kaleb Corbin, thank you for your onsite support.

And extra special thanks to our video making dream team:  danielle Mackenzie Long, Echo Park Film Center’s Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo, Hân Phạm, and Sharon Bayly.

Britannia Cedar Bark Hat Weaving/H.A.T.T.A.
Roundhouse Sound & Song
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Elders Arts & Crafts
Carnegie Creativity for Connection
Moberly Writers and Storytellers
UBC Learning Exchange/Strathcona Moving Stories
Roundhouse Improv Theatre for Older Adults

In 2021, visual artist Keely O’Brien led our first larger scale pivot, an Arts & Health-wide mail art project. Seniors and Elders from current and active alumni Arts & Health groups were invited to participate by mailing in their responses to one of three creative prompts. Keely designed a book sharing all those responses- it’s called In Case You Miss Me, and you can explore an electronic copy here.

In Case You Miss Me Artist Statement by Keely O’Brien:
Arts & Health brings together artists with groups of seniors and Elders for collaborative art making of all kinds, from dance to storytelling to cedar bark weaving, and more. This book contains creative contributions from 2021 Arts & Health participants and Arts & Health Alumni groups, who responded to prompts via snail-mail. In an unusual year that has prevented us from gathering in person, this collection of drawings and words allows us to gather our experiences, reflections, and dreams together on the page. While compiling this book, I was continuously struck by participant’s generosity and creativity, from sharing family recipes to intimate self portraits. I hope you enjoy perusing this unique and beautiful anthology.

2019 Arts & Health Exhibition and Gala Showcase

Over 2018-2019, older adults have worked together with professional artists to produce the work in this exhibition, which represents eleven Arts & Health projects. With support from Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Park Board, and community partners, Arts & Health fosters connection, confidence, and emotional, social, and physical well-being among its participants.

Fast-paced North American cultures can tend to ignore the voices of seniors, yet the older adults and Elders you will meet through this exhibition have important stories to share. Many have lived through difficult times and some have directly experienced residential schools, war, racist and homophobic legislation, and more. Arts & Health participants have been children, parents, and grandparents. They have been vanguards, cooks, teachers, activists, organizers, and performers, and they are still committed and active members of their various communities. A repository of knowledge and wisdom, they are a living archive of important human histories and a testament to the human spirit of resilience and survival.

2018 Arts & Health Exhibition and Gala Showcase

Arts & Health: Healthy Aging through the Arts showcases work from creative collaborations in a variety of genres including dance, song, puppetry, theatre, writing, drawing, fibre art, and cedar bark weaving.

This showcase celebrates its 12th year, providing a forum for expression, exploration, and imagination, which in turn fosters improved health, social connections, and a sense of belonging in older adults. Arts & Health with support from Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and local community partners, has blossomed into the vibrant project represented above.

This 11th Annual Exhibition and Showcase featured art from ten creative collaborations in a variety of artistic genres, including, dance, writing, puppetry, choral music, and First Nations cedar bark weaving. The work was the product of artistic collaborations conducted at Trout Lake, West Point Grey, Britannia, Carnegie, Moberly, Douglas Park, Strathcona, and here at the Roundhouse, as well as Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver.

Participants drew inspiration from their work together. As they sang, drew, wrote and danced, the artist participants also swapped stories and advice about the lived realities of their lives, hopes, and histories.   Many of the participants have lived through troubled times and have direct experience of Residential School, racist and homophobic legislation and much more. They have been pioneers and vanguards, parents, grandparents and children, cooks, teachers, prison guards and performers. Many are still active members of their various communities. A repository of knowledge and wisdom, they are a living archive of important human histories and a testament to the human spirit of resilience and survival.

Showcase 2016

The 2016 Showcase celebrated the creative work of the 10 year span of the Arts & Health Project. From many cultural backgrounds, Elder and senior artists made their way to their local community centres, sometimes on canes, in the Handy Dart, using wheelchairs, walkers, and their own two feet.  They came together because they wanted to dance, draw, write, sing, paint, sew, create videos, or make puppets. In other words, they wanted to make art.

The Arts & Health Project began in 2006 as a three-year pilot, developed as a partnership between the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and Vancouver Coastal Health, in collaboration with other community organizations and associations who share mandates focused on health, community recreation, and the arts. The 2016 Exhibition and Showcase was a joyful testament to the fact that the project has more than survived, it is thriving.  The creative process was fueled by snacks and laughter, hard work and deep conversation, and constant openness to the delightfulness of life’s capacity to surprise.

Showcase 2015

Arts and Health Project: Healthy Aging Through The Arts hosts Elders and seniors’ arts groups across greater Vancouver on the traditional, unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl ̓ ilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

This project sees professional artists work collaboratively with older adults across many arts disciplines, moving forward together through the exploration of their knowledge and life experience. The annual exhibition and performance is a showcase for this work. The project began in 2006 as a partnership initiative of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and Vancouver Coastal Health in collaboration with other organizations and associations who have close ties to community and share mandates focused on health, community recreation, and the arts.

The 2015 showcase includes work by seven groups. These groups include Britannia Community Services Centre First Nations Arts Mentorship, Britannia Community Services Centre Queer Imaging and Riting Kollective for Elders (Quirke), Carnegie Centre Elders Dance, Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre Seniors Dance, Roundhouse Community Centre Express Your Voice Choir, Strathcona Community Centre Senior Puppet Theatre, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Mix Media Arts.

Arts and Health Project: Healthy Aging Through the Arts is generously funded by Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, Vancouver Coastal Health – SMART Fund, Vancouver Foundation.

Read the curatorial statement here.

Showcase 2014

On June 7th Gabriel George from the Tsleil Waututh Nation, welcomed everyone to the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, situated on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Park Board Commissioner, Constance Barnes spoke of the value of this project bringing together many communities of Elders and Seniors and providing a vehicle for their creative voices to be heard, and Roundhouse Community Arts Programmer, Marie Lopes introduced eleven groups of Elders over five hours of presentations and performances.

Curatorial Statement

by Lisa G Neilsen

Imagine creating art, for the first time, in your elder years: working a blank canvas into an image of your face;
experimenting with words until your thoughts form a poem; making work that is provocative, sad, sexy, hilarious…
Art becomes a way to explore, take risks, to be bold, to remember and to envision.

Now imagine two, five or even eight years later: you continue making art with a community of creative
colleagues around you and a renewed sense of purpose.

In 2005, a partnership between the Vancouver Board of Parks Recreation and Vancouver Coastal Health was born with an idea to create a new generation of creative programs for seniors that would contribute to health and well-being, engage in serious artistic practice and connect seniors with their communities.

In 2006, professional artists began working together with seniors at four community centres in Vancouver and North Vancouver. By 2009 The Arts and Health Project was expanded to 6 centres and in 2014 the project has grown to 10 sites. Each site sees professional artists working in collaboration with older adults to create original artwork in visual arts, creative writing, mixed media, digital video, improvisational music, dance, cultural regalia and puppetry.

Now, under the umbrella of the BC Parks and Recreation Association, The Arts and Health Project continues to expand in exciting ways. Four new projects at Britannia Community Centre, Carnegie Centre, Moberly Arts and Culture Centre and Tsleil-Waututh Nation are bridging communities and sharing cultural traditions. A new ten-week arts curriculum, based on the positive outcomes from Arts and Health, is currently running at Strathcona Community Centre and Trout Lake Community Centre and will be available to all Vancouver Park Board Community Centres in the coming year.

This innovative initiative highlights new ways to think about, honour and serve our aging population through creative practice.

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