To bring joy to older adults and those living in isolating circumstances and enhance their well-being through creative engagement with the arts. 

Mission of Tidewater Arts Outreach

What is a Tidewater Arts Outreach program?

Tidewater Arts Outreach matches local artists with opportunities to share their creativity and compassion in support of Hampton Roads residents who are in nursing homes, hospitals, shelters or are isolated from society in other ways.

TAO’s outreach programs are typically one hour in length, consisting of interactive music programs, participatory spoken word/poetry and songwriting workshops, hands-on visual arts projects and interactive performing arts presentations. Artists are recruited, trained and compensated by TAO. Participants never pay to take part in an arts outreach program.

Why is the Outreach Program important?

According to the Foundation for Art & Healing, it is estimated that one third of adult Americans are affected by loneliness (feeling alone, social isolation, living alone) and this loneliness can increase mortality rates between 26-32%. This makes loneliness and isolation as lethal as chronic smoking.1 

Older adults are particularly prone to loneliness and according to the CDC, makes this population 50% more at risk for developing dementia, 29% increase risk of heart disease, and 32% increase in risk of stroke. Loneliness is also associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. 2 

Loneliness and isolation, in short, is a public health crisis. Feelings of loneliness should be taken as seriously as thirst, hunger, or pain – they are a signal that an individual’s basic needs are unmet. The perception of loneliness is enough to produce these adverse health consequences.3 

Arts engagement is a highly effective care supplement and combatant to loneliness. In one case study studying an “arts-on-prescription” project in England, patients “prescribed” an eight-week course in fine arts (including poetry, ceramics, or painting), showed a 37% reduction in GP consultation rates and 27% reduction in hospital visits. England’s National Health Service estimated a cost-saving of $280 per patient as a result of this project. 4 

The group program model offered by Tidewater Arts Outreach is an effective and efficient method to provide arts engagement experiences for these populations that are most at risk of loneliness and its adverse effects. It is imperative to the Hampton Roads community that these experiences are made as widely available as possible – particularly to groups and communities that would not otherwise be able to access such opportunities. This is made even more critical in the wake of COVID-19 as necessary social distancing measures increase these feelings of isolation in already at-risk populations.  

1 Isolation and Loneliness Fact Sheet | The Foundation for Art & Healing ( 
2 Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions ( 
3 Loneliness Can Kill You ( 
4 Special Report on Art and The Brain – Art & Creativity for Healing ( 

Available Program Types

This is just a sampling of what TAO offers – feel free to inquire with our Program Director if you have any specific interests.

Vocalists (soloists and ensembles)
Strings/brass/woodwinds (soloists and ensembles)
Genre specific ensembles (barbershop, jazz, bluegrass, etc.)
Drumming circles

Visual Arts
Painting classes
Flower arranging and plant care
Pottery painting
Jewelry art

Performing Arts
Yoga and meditation
Dramas and re-enactments
Comedy and improv

Poetry and Literary
Storytelling and Poetry workshops
Oral history seminars

How We’ve Responded to COVID-19

Tidewater Arts Outreach has adjusted programming to virtual platforms and outdoor, socially distant delivery methods for as long as social distancing and quarantine measures are in effect for the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs can continue even now!

TAO Artist, Alex Marlins, playing for residents of Bay Lake Retirement in Virginia Beach