Event highlights part one – Older people and cultural participation: where next?

Event highlights part one – Older people and cultural participation: where next?

By Tot Foster, Tim Senior and Stuart Gray, 20th September 2021 

On July 7th we ran our first project workshop where, using Zoom, we hosted twelve fantastic speakers from an eclectic range of backgrounds and organisations to offer insights from their work with older adults to deliver cultural activities during the pandemic.

During the event, we listened to our speakers describe their experiences in developing and applying creative and inclusive methods with older people; delivering cultural activities; and describing the landscape of digital inclusion and cultural participation.

In this post we revisit some of our speaker presentations. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog series where we outline some of the themes that emerged from those talks and our attendee discussions.

Speaker Presentation Session One

Speaker: Anne Gallacher, Luminate, Scotland

Title: Creative ageing and digital connection during the pandemic: what did we learn?

About: Anne Gallacher is Director of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing organisation. Anne has worked in the UK arts sector for over 30 years including posts with West Midlands Arts, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Watford Palace Theatre, as well consultancy work and a number of non-exec roles.

Speaker: Kate Parkin, Equal Arts, Newcastle

Title: The importance of ‘holding’ open emotional spaces in digital work with older people

About: Kate is the Creative Age Programme Manager at Equal Arts, a creative ageing charity based in the North East of England. Kate is responsible for overseeing the organisation’s training and arts and health programmes including the production of creative projects in hospitals, community, care and cultural settings. She has significant experience in establishing inclusive, dementia-friendly practice with and for people living with dementia. Kate is currently a North East Champion for the national Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance. She also volunteers as a Director of Wunderbar, a Newcastle based community interest company specialising in playfully disruptive performance and multi-disciplinary projects.

Speaker: Andy Barry, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Title: We’ll Be in Touch – a creative phone service for older people led by older people

About: Andy Barry is a theatre maker and director who currently leads Manchester’s Royal Exchange Elders Company. In 2021, he was in The Stage 100, a list celebrating individuals who helped the theatre industry survive the Covid-19 crisis. During the pandemic Andy originated and led a number of digital projects with older people.

Speaker: Jeanne Ellin

Title: Older Alice down the digital rabbit hole 

About: Jeanne is a Connecting Through Culture As We Age co-researcher. Here is how she describes herself and her life: “I am an Anglo Indian woman, exploring the challenges of her 70’s. No saga type retirement, just an artist in a small bungalow. With more enthusiasm than energy more ideas than money. So much still to learn and enjoy. Wonderful that writing is not something you retire from. Child migrant, left India just after 8tth birthday., I worked as nurse, counsellor and community artist. Most recently writer in residence in a hospice. Not sure I could ever not write. Short fiction is my least well practice medium…most comfortable with poetry and also nibbling away at my fantasy novel.”

Speaker: Bridget Deevy, Bealtaine, Ireland

Title: How going digital impacted Age & Opportunity’s Artist in Residence in a Care Setting initiative during the longest lockdown in Europe.

About: Bridget Deevy has worked as Arts Programme Assistant Manager with Age & Opportunity since 2018 managing flagship initiatives such as the Artist in Residence in a Care Setting initiative and the Bealtaine Festival. Bridget has over 10 years arts management experience working in areas such as venue programming, festival management and education.

Speaker Presentation Session Two

Speaker: Maddy Mills, Entelechy Arts, London

Title: Cultural (dis)connection – what does the experience of culture via digital mean for our offline communities?

About: Maddy’s work is grounded in the belief that feeling connected to a community – in whatever form that takes – helps people lead healthier and happier lives. Previously working at organisations including Southbank Centre, Kew Gardens and Bloomsbury Festival. She also founded the Family Volunteering Club.

Speaker: Emma Dyer, Alive Activities, Bristol

Title: How do we effectively co-design/produce technological interventions that allow older people to stay connected with each other and their community?

About: Emma started her career as a user centred service designer working with across a number of Design Council initiatives. Since working for Alive she has become an expert in co-production with older people.

Speaker: Fozia Ismail, Arawelo Eats & Dhaqan Collective, Bristol

Title: extract, produce, repeat. Where is the change for minoritized older communities?

About: Fozia Ismail, scholar, cook and founder of Arawelo Eats, a platform for exploring politics, identity and colonialism through East African food. She is a resident of Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed and co-founder of dhaqan collective, a Somali feminist art collective based in Bristol.

Speaker: Kate Duncan, City Arts, Nottingham

Title: Approaches to Evaluating our work in Creative Ageing

About: Kate Duncan is Programme Director – Wellbeing at City Arts in Nottingham. Kate manages a portfolio of health programmes in Nottingham. City Arts has worked with older people for over 10 years in partnership with health and care professionals, cultural and heritage organisations.

Speaker: Kristina Leonnet, Centre for Ageing Better

Title: Digital Inclusion Support

About: Kristina Leonnet is Senior Innovation and Change Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better. She works to bring about change by working closely with partners and people with lived experience to develop forward-thinking ideas which provide practical, scalable solutions.

Speaker: Farrell Renowden, Age of Creativity

Title: Age Sector reflections- community based responses to creativity and digital since lockdown

About: Farrell Renowden is Head of Cultural Partnerships at Age UK Oxfordshire, leads the Age of Creativity and is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion for age England Association

Speaker: Lucia Arias, FACT, Liverpool

Title: Reflections and questions emerging from You’re on mute, FACT Liverpool

About: Lucía Arias, FACT’s Learning Manager, has led a number of learning projects that worked with hard to reach young audiences and teaching practices. At FACT, the learning programme focuses on art commissions and how the collaborative work of artists and participants can engage general audiences in contemporary conversations.

A Note of Thanks

We would like to pay our thanks to the fantastic group of 60 attendees who brought such enthusiasm and wonderful ideas to our first event. We would encourage anyone who attended to get in touch if they are interested in discussing more about the Connecting Through Culture as We Age project or their own relevant work. We’d also like to pay a special thanks to the fantastic speakers, Jeanne, Emma, Anne, Kate P, Andy, Farrell, Fozia, Kate D, Maddy, Lucia, Kristina, and Bridget – we really appreciate your insight and your time!

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