Creative Enquiry Resources
What Next? tells the story of four artists who worked with older people on a project that broke the mould. The What Next? programme includes the Arts and Ageing Podcast series, the Arts and Ageing Workshops and the Arts and Ageing e-Publication, all providing a toolkit for those working with older people. All of these resources reflect on real life projects that go beyond the normal templates for working with older people.
What Next? is an outcome of Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People, a project that creatively explored fresh approaches to arts engagement with older people in 2019 supported by The Arts Council Invitation to Collaboration Scheme. Three artist-residencies were hosted by three organisations: Cork Midsummer Festival, Music Alive and SIRIUS with the support of Cork City and County Councils, Age & Opportunity and the HSE.
Dancer and choreographer Helga Deasy and musician and choir leader Susan McManamon worked with MusicAlive on two artist residencies at Nazareth House, a nursing home in Mallow, and at Mayfield Men’s Shed. Visual artist Marie Brett worked with Cork Midsummer Festival on a project called Cultural Lore – the idea was that knowledge can be lost from our collective consciousness as technological advances replace more traditional manual methods. Working with SIRIUS in Cobh, the focus of visual artist Colette Lewis’s enquiry was to consider new approaches to arts engagement with older people that are more accessible and innovative within a regional context.
As part of What Next?, the Arts and Ageing Podcast produced by Ellie O’Byrne is being released on Monday 4 October, kicking off with two episodes, Local Know-How with Colette Lewis, parts one and two, including Kevin Jones’ contributions as an ex-fisherman from Cobh. This will be followed by Cultural Lore with Marie Brett, part one on 11 October and part two on 18 October. Further episodes will include Freedom to Fly with Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon part one on 1 November, part two on 8 November, and part three on 15 November. The final concluding episode, to be released on 21 November, will feature a critical reflection by Ellie O’Byrne. Subscribe and listen to the podcast HERE.
Workshops on planning and delivering arts programming in relation to older people will take place in November, each delivered by representatives of the partner organisations. See details below. Free, but booking essential via the Eventbrite page of SIRIUS.
Finally in December the Arts and Ageing e-Publication will be published. This digital publication will be freely available and will include a summary of learnings and findings as well as recommendations.
What Next? Arts and Ageing Workshops and Clinics
The workshops and clinics offer an opportunity to discuss and reflect with artists, programmers, curators, and local authority arts officers regarding how to meaningfully engage with communities through the arts. They are aimed at staff members at arts organisations, artists and other creative professionals, community workers, health care professionals and policymakers.
Three workshops take place from 9–11 November, 10 am–noon each day, via Zoom, with facilitation by the journalist Ellie O’Byrne. All events are free but booking is required HERE.
How Do We Embed the Arts in Community Settings?
9 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom
Kevin O’ Shanahan, Creative Director of MusicAlive, delivers a workshop with artists Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon. There is a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, the promotion of good health, and the management and treatment of illness across the life span. Together Kevin, Helga and Susan ask how one might embed arts in health care. The residencies in which Helga and Susan took part had many positive outcomes. They worked in Nazareth House nursing home in Mallow and Mayfield Men’s Shed. Meeting these groups as they are, in their own contexts, provided unique opportunities for collaboration. Kevin, Susan and Helga consider how their work was responsive to the participants.
Cultural Lore Case Study: People’s Thinking on Arts Engagement, Ageing and Impact
10 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom
Kath Gorman, former Head of Participation and Engagement at Cork Midsummer Festival delivers a workshop with artist Marie Brett. They present and discuss the key findings and considerations of Marie’s ‘Cultural Lore’ residency with Cork Midsummer Festival, which included how arts programmes might be made accessible for and with older audiences. This used the model of a ‘creative enquiry’ based on building relationships through a more flexible developmental approach.
What Are the Ethics of Engaging with Older People?
11 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom
Miguel Amado, Director of SIRIUS, delivers a workshop with artist Colette Lewis. Colette explored ways of collaborating with older people that are accessible and innovative, considering the specificities of operating within a regional context. Rather than emphasising final outcomes, she initiated relationships for the future. Miguel and Colette discuss the role of the arts in society: How might an arts organisation maintain links with participants after a project is ‘complete’? They provide guidance on the ethical imperative that an arts organisation should have today, particularly when working with older people, and how that might contribute to discussions of wider societal matters.
Thirty clinics are also available to participants in the workshops. They take place from 9–11 November, 2–5pm each day; the duration of each session is 30 minutes. The schedule is s follows: 2–2.30pm, 2.40–3.10pm, 3.20–3.50pm, 4–4.30pm, 4.40–5.10pm. Participants should prepare a topic they would like to address.
Workshop participants will receive an email from SIRIUS to confirm which clinic sessions and times they are interested in, if any, and subsequently SIRIUS confirms the booking and shares the relevant Zoom links.
9 November: Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon, Kevin O’ Shanahan, Creative Director of MusicAlive
10 November: Marie Brett, Siobhán Clancy, Community Arts Coordinator, Cork City Council Arts Office
11 November: Colette Lewis, Miguel Amado, Director, SIRIUS
We believe that, whether you are 8 or 80 years old, we all should have access and opportunities to attend and participate in the arts and to realise our creative potential. Fresh thinking, bold experimentation and creativity are all fundamental to delivering a high quality of life for older people.
Research shows that arts programmes involving music, visual arts and drama, among other activities, have a profound influence on the quality of life of older people, with positive impacts on health, psychological well-being, confidence and autonomy as well as other benefits such as:
- mental wellbeing
- reduced stress
- improved cognition
- sense of identity and personhood
- increased self-esteem and confidence
- reduced boredom.