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Over 2,000 older people to benefit from £160,000 Arts Council funding

Monday 6th March 2017 at 10am 0 Comments Arts and Older People , Community Arts , Arts & Health

Pictured are Lorraine Calderwood, Programme Manager, with May Rodgers (80) from Bruce House residential home, Fiona McGettigan, Activities Co-ordinator from the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and Paul Kane, Oh Yeah. Image: Pictured are Lorraine Calderwood, Programme Manager, with May Rodgers (80) from Bruce House residential home, Fiona McGettigan, Activities Co-ordinator from the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and Paul Kane, Oh Yeah.

Twenty community-based arts projects for older people are celebrating after the Arts Council of Northern Ireland awarded grants worth over £160,000 to organisations across the region. 

The Arts and Older People Programme provides opportunities for people to engage with the arts, promoting positive mental health and well-being and helping to tackle issues like loneliness and isolation affecting our older citizens. The programme of investment is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery fund and the Public Health Agency. 

Organisations across the region which have benefited from the funding, include the award-winning Oh Yeah organisation in Belfast. Their ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’, project involves a series of 30 workshops in both residential care settings and in the Oh Yeah Music Centre.   The workshops will encourage carers, family members and staff to join-in with older residents and live musicians, using percussion instruments, singing, gentle dancing, reminiscence, new technology to create new material.

Paul Kane from the Oh Yeah project, welcomed the announcement, saying;

“This funding is wonderful.  Many older people in our busy society suffer loneliness, stress and health issues.  This funding, and our ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ project, will help us to bring older people together through workshops in Belfast and in care homes, so they can experience and embrace music and technology and essentially see and hear what we create!  The project is sure to be a fun way for older people to enjoy arts, and, importantly bring stimulation and creativity to their everyday lives.”

In Strabane, a project entitled ‘Strabane Memories in Ceramics’ will bring together residents to create ceramic pieces which will reflect times gone by in the local community.  Participants will design and create their own pieces under the guidance of Ceramic Artist Leona Devine. The pieces will then be exhibited in local venues including local youth clubs so that local young people can hear and see a history of their local community.            

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council, explained how the Arts and Older People’s Programme is continuing to making a huge difference to people’s lives, saying;

“The links between engagement in the arts and improved personal wellbeing are now well established. The Arts Council’s Arts & Older People Programme has evidenced just how successful the arts are in making a positive impact on our older people. Indeed all of the organisations awarded funding to date, tackle isolation and social exclusion. With the help of artists these projects give a much needed voice to our older citizens through high quality arts interventions.

The latest tranche of funding is focused on helping carers and those managing care workers to see the benefits of arts programming for older people. This year we are hosting an ‘Art of Caring’ Conference in April 2017 to highlight the evidence and good practice in this area”.

The Arts and Older People’s Programme is a pioneering, Northern Ireland-wide programme established in partnership initially with Atlantic Philanthropies and subsequently the Public Health Agency and the Baring Foundation.  The aim was to increase opportunities for older people to actively engage in the arts. It is about challenging perceptions of what it means to be an older person, providing opportunities to participate in a full range of creative activities.

The original Arts & Older People Programme was set up in 2010 to increase opportunities for older people to engage with the arts.  Since then over 19,000 older people have participated in a variety of projects, from ceramics to dance and music.

To register for ‘The Art of Caring’ conference visit;


The 20 projects which will be supported by the Arts & Older People Programme this year, include:

Bardic Educational Arts & Media, Young at heART, Donaghmore will deliver a project which will engage around 50 older people from the Donaghmore/ Dungannon area in 2017. Using various arts based techniques, the project which will assist in combating isolation and loneliness for those living in our rural community.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Mosaic of life, in Ballycastle will deliver Mosaic workshops with older people’s groups in local community venues including the Glens area of the north coast. Artists from Dunseverick Art will work with participants who will make individual and group mosaics for display in the council’s arts centres and other community venues.

Waterside Theatre Company Ltd, Telling Tales Theatre Company, Londonderry will deliver a 26 week drama based project engaging older people living in areas of high deprivation and rural areas.  Workshops will include dance and movement, visual arts, creative writing and technical theatre work to give the participants an opportunity to gain new skills across different art forms.  Participants will create 3 pieces of original work which they will take out into the community to showcase in Care Homes and community centres and a final performance will take place in the Waterside Theatre at the end of the project.

Open Arts, Words of Wisdom, Belfast will engage older people in a series of drama, storytelling, reminiscence and creative writing workshops. Each of the 4 participating groups will receive 6 sessions over the course of the project.  The end result of the work will be a professionally printed book of their words, which will be launched in April 2017.

• Inspired by the local folk songs captured by renowned song collector Sam Henry, Live Music Now (LMN), Sharing through Songs of the People, Limavady will bring to life the musical memories of Limavady’s older generation and create new ‘songs of the people’, based on reminiscence.   Musical duo Voice & Verse will deliver 12 workshops to older people in Thackeray Care Home and Day Centre, culminating in a public performance at Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre. In the course of the project the musicians will develop a musical toolkit for care staff.

Oh Yeah Music Centre, Shake, Rattle & Roll, Belfast will deliver 30 participatory workshops across the year, until Sept 2017 in both residential care settings and in Oh Yeah Music Centre.   The workshops will encourage carers, family members staff and participants to join with live musicians using percussion instruments, singing, gentle dancing, reminiscence, new technology (iPads) and the creation of new material.

Play Resource Warehouse Limited, A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, Belfast aims is to ignite and inspire a passion for reading, writing and listening.  Humour and enjoyment will be key to the success of the project, where participants will be asked to think about their own favourite books, stories or poetry that will be explored in the group sessions.  After sharing the information art works will be created through drawing imagery using a variety of multimedia, such as calligraphy, weaving, embroidery, photography and sound.  The group creations will be exhibited in Play Resource and will then be transferred to the local libraries of each participating group to be exhibited.

Action Mental Health, Shared Histories, across the locations - Antrim, Enniskillen and Downpatrick will through the use of the arts bring men together to share their histories and create connections for shared learning. The project will create a digital storytelling history project involving the men working together to research and document the past of their local area, reminisce and share experiences, particularly around memories of the areas they grew up in and their childhood. The films created will be premiered locally.

Beth Johnson Foundation, Havin a Yarn, Newtownards In each of these Libraries there is a ‘Knit and Natter’ group meeting regularly. The membership of these groups are mostly older people.  The skills demonstrated in these groups are creative, artistic and beautiful. The aim is to bring the children from local primary school (Bangor Central, Donaghadee and Andrews Memorial Comber to joint in Yarn Bombing workshops that will produce yarn bombing for public display learning and creating yarn bombing for display in each locality. This will assist the older people get the art work they complete out into the community and be encouraged to participate in various art genre.. There will be six workshops in each town followed by a yarn bombing display around the libraries and at central localities in each town engaging the public, community representatives and the local press

West Bann Development, Voice of I’m-Age, Coleraine Voice of Im-Age will provide a 10 week creative art course for older people in the Heights and Killowen Neighbourhood Renewal areas of Coleraine. The course will include outdoor art inspired by streetscape of Coleraine, the rudiments of pencil drawing and studies in ink and pen, development to paint, one care home session reminiscing through arts and crafts and designing one piece for exhibition. The course will begin Thursday 19th January 2017 from 10.30-12.30 and run for 10 weeks.

Big Telly Theatre Company, GlenFest, Portstewart will work with farmers in North Antrim to develop a festival with and for the wider community using a range of techniques.  The project will explore, record and share farmers’ stories and celebrate their way of life. A festival will be held which will focus on the differences between the lived experience of older men in Coleraine and in Limavady, all of whom will contribute to the festival with visual, written and audio material.

EastSide Arts, Re-Generations, Belfast will deliver an art project, aimed at breaking down isolation, loneliness and promoting well-being amongst older residents of east Belfast.  Taking place at the EastSide Visitor Centre, 12 weeks of free drop-in workshops including craft, creative writing, interactive music workshops and printmaking will be on offer.  This will be followed by a 10 week dance programme in the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road, facilitated by Anthea McWilliams.

Lisnafin/Ardnalee/Trust Cross-Community Development Association, Strabane memories in ceramics, Strabane will undertake an eight two hour classes in Lisnafin Community Centre working with 12 older people.  The group will create ceramic pieces which will reflect times gone by in their community.  Participants will design and create their own pieces under the guidance of Ceramic Artist Leona Devine. These pieces will then be exhibited giving the participants the opportunity to invite family and friends and the wider community, including local youth clubs so that local young people can hear and see a history of their local community.  The Exhibition itself will enhance a sense of community spirit.

Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, Dance Leaders, Enniskillen will improve and promote increased positive mental and physical well-being through dance and increase participation in arts activity for older people living in rural South West. The project will produce a professional dance documentary film created with and including older people participating in the Dance Leaders Programme, and use this to strengthen the voice of older people in and from the area. 

Arts & Disability Forum, Art and Biscuits 2, Belfast will provide a programme of workshops form older people.  The workshops which uses a range of the arts to enable people with dementia and their carers to engage in creative activities.

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops, Age-ility Circus, will deliver over 55 circus workshops targeting men and women in Whitehead and Belfast.  The project will allows the group to reach out to older people through the free workshops which run every week.

Down Community Arts Ltd, I was I am, Downpatrick will enable men to socialise, converse and partake in arts led activity looking at how the areas in which they used to work have evolved through the years. The project will then produce pieces of work for an exhibition and book detailing participant experiences throughout the project. Artist Deidre Cartmill and John Rainey will work with participants to create work that will reflect their individuality.

Killyclogher Senior Citizens Club, Art Matters, Omagh is an older peoples group of 78 members based in Killyclogher on the outskirts of Omagh, County Tyrone. The Arts Matters project aims to contribute to the quality of our older people’s lives by connecting them with each other. This new programme focuses on ‘trying new things’ The project will promote positive physical and mental health for older people through art to enrich the lives older people, especially people living with dementia and other conditions. 

Derry City and Strabane District Council, Arts for the Third Age, Music to Your Ears, Strabane will be based in the Alley Theatre delivering a popular programme of engaging events for participants both rural and urban.  The project will engage older people in music making and song writing.

Prime Cut Productions Limited, Not Not Myself, Belfast will deliver a nine month project using three different art forms, visual, drama and music.  It will address issues faced by 60 people with dementia, their carers and family members. 



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