Nancy Armitage


Nancy Armitage doing some art. Armitage has an art program for people who suffer from mid-stage memory loss.

WHITEHALL – About a year ago, artist and recent transplant from Milwaukee, Wisc., Nancy Armitage, approached us about starting a new program at the ACWL-Nuveen called SPARK!, an interactive arts engagement program serving people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners.

Armitage had been a facilitator for ten years in Wisconsin where the SPARK! program originated in 2009 and is very passionate about its benefits. Her infectious enthusiasm has led to the creation of a new collaborative program — SPARK! White Lake — the first of its kind to be offered in the State of Michigan.

The initial 2020 SPARK! White Lake program will start this October and run thru November with different themed sessions offered at 1:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Classes at the ACWL-Nuveen will feature visual art and offerings from the Playhouse at White Lake will be theatre-inspired.

Although SPARK! sessions held in 2020 will be virtual via Zoom, participants will still get hands-on experience with themed take-home art kits prepared by Armitage, ACWL-Nuveen staff, and SPARK! White Lake volunteers before each session.

Kicking things off on Oct. 14 will be a visual art session at the ACWL-Nuveen, using the theme of self-portraits as an ice breaker. Armitage will share samples of the rich historic tradition of portraiture to promote dialogue and encourage participants to create their own self-portrait using supplies and instructions from their take-home art kit.

On Oct. 29 the second session of the month will focus on storytelling with a virtual, behind-the-scenes tour of the Playhouse at White Lake, led by Director Beth Beaman. As part of the theatre session, attendees will respond to a Timeslips prompt and discuss how to write and perform a story using props and costumes.

Each participant will also be given supplies and encouraged to put together their own story in a “zine” — a small, folded book.

We are very excited about starting SPARK! White Lake this October and look forward to further development of the program in January. If you are interested in participating in SPARK! White Lake 2020 or more specific information, please email Armitage at

Space is limited so reserve your spot today! To learn more about SPARK! programs, visit

This program is made possible with the support of the White Lake Lothmann Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.