UW-Milwaukee professor wins MacArthur foundation ‘genius grant’


Local theater artist and UW-Milwaukee professor Anne Basting is officially a genius. Commonly referred to as the ‘genius grant,’ the MacArthur Foundation awards a $650,000 stipend paid in quarterly installments over five years with no strings attached.

Basting was honored for her ground-breaking work with TimeSlips, an organization that works to engage aging people, who are living with dementia and other cognitive impairments, in creative storytelling.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Anne Basting, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee theater professor who responds to the challenges of aging and dementia with creative engagement, is one of this year’s winners of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, commonly known as a “genius” grant.

“Basting’s perspective on aging and the power of stories is changing the perceptions of caregivers, family members, and policymakers around the artistic and creative capabilities of older adults, regardless of age or cognitive status,” the foundation wrote in its announcement.

Over the past two decades, Basting has led a series of collaborative local efforts designed to counteract social isolation and cognitive impairment among the elderly with creativity, beginning with “TimeSlips,” which the MacArthur Foundation called her breakthrough project. Working with residents at Luther Manor and other locations, Basting developed an improvisational storytelling method in which older adults with cognitive impairment respond to pictures and cues by imagining stories and poems.

The project led to what the MacArthur Foundation calls Basting’s fundamental insight: “The creation of new stories can be an enriching substitute for lost memories.”

Read the announcement or visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to learn more

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