The mission of Tidewater Arts Outreach (TAO) is to bring joy to older adults and those living in isolating circumstances and enhance their well-being through creative engagement with the arts. TAO was founded in 2004 by artist MaryAnn Toboz and has produced over 3,300 programs at 168 different facilities and served over 92,000 participants – participants who never pay for a TAO program.

TAO’s outreach programs are typically 50-60 minutes 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.

TAO produces programs in partnership with assisted living communities, nursing homes, hospitals, shelters, and other venues that serve a population prone to isolating circumstances. It is TAO’s mission to be a care supplement for these providers by bringing the healing power of the arts to their communities. These program partners provide the venue and access to the individuals most in need of this programming. Financially, TAO either 1) shares program cost with the partner or 2) outright sponsors the program through individual donations or grants. Priority for sponsored programs is given to partners who most need the programming and have the least resources available to procure it otherwise.

Through the pandemic, they learned how to deliver programs in a variety of ways, not just over Zoom. It has made their model much stronger moving forward because they’re able to approach their partners with a “how do you need us to deliver the program to you?” mindset.

Eventually, Tidewater Arts Outreach would like to be able to offer programming with very little to no cost-share for the partners. They strive to increase the community value of these programs.

To connect with their community, they stay very active on social media, send a weekly newsletter, and love writing handwritten notes to their partners and supporters!

Written by Abby Schiano

Tidewater Arts Outreach
Kate Powell, Executive Director
809 Brandon Avenue Suite 300 Norfolk, VA 23517