At the Gold Coast Arts Center on Monday, a screen flashed clips from iconic duos in films like “The King and I,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Casablanca.” In between clips were discussions and, at one point, the audience sang along to songs from the Rat Pack.
What made this program different from others in the past was who it engaged.
“It’s part of an ongoing effort to engage people living with dementia and their care partners with cultural arts in the community,” said Marcy Rhodes, a social worker who facilitated the program.
This was the opening day of the “Making Memories” series at the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, a program geared towards those with memory loss and their care partners. Organizers said it aims to be a rich entertainment experience that spurs memories, conversation and togetherness.
“People need to be connected, families need to be connected, and the socialization changes as people develop memory loss and other symptoms,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes helped begin this program in 2015 at the Cinema Arts Center and in 2013 at the Heckscher Museum of Art, both of which are in Huntington. She said she got involved because in her practice, she recognized people don’t always use community resources enough and that science shows a program like this could help.
“We know that music and laughter are really wonderful stimulants for language and sparking memories,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes and Caroline Sorokoff, the associate director of the Gold Coast Arts Center, said that these programs typically start small. But there is a need for these programs, they said, and it’s more a matter of letting people know the program exists.
“We know that there’s a demand for programs like this,” Sorokoff said. “It’s just a matter of getting the information out and reaching the people that would be most interested in it.”
Regina Gil, director of the Gold Coast Arts Center, said the program was several months in the making. But while it took some time to put together, she said it fits perfectly with the arts center’s mission.
“The arts don’t just exist in a vacuum,” Gil said. “This is one of those cases where we will be enriching the lives of those people and their caretakers.”
The center will host two more events this year – Making Memories at the Movies on Nov. 8 and Making Memories with Music on Dec. 4, both starting at 11:30 a.m. The theme for the November event, which corresponds with the Gold Coast International Film Festival, will likely be veterans because it is close to Veterans Day.
There will be programs throughout 2018, but the final schedule is still being set.
The program, which requires patrons to RSVP, costs $5 per person. The Gold Coast Arts Center, located at 113 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck, encourages interested patrons to reserve their spots by calling 516-829-2570.