The Arts and Older People Programme was established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding from the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation. The programme has been designed to challenge perceptions of what it means to be an older person. To date the programme has provided over £2m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of over 250 arts projects to older people.
Lorraine Calderwood, Community Arts Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how the Arts and Older People’s Programme is making a difference to the lives of older people across the region:
"Thanks to The National Lottery, we’re delighted today to announce that a further 29 arts organisations will be supported to deliver projects with funding of £209,000. Research has proven that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as aid in relieving stress. The Arts and Older People Programme is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. As we emerge from the extra challenges faced by older people as a result of the pandemic, participating in the arts is now more important than ever before. The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people find their voice thus promoting positive physical and mental health.”
Among the successful applicants offered Arts and Older People Programme funding are:
Commedia of Errors (Belfast) - amount awarded: £8,100
Commedia of Errors will travel to 19 care homes across Belfast an in rural parts of Northern Ireland to deliver a series of dementia-friendly music and theatre performances with two professional actors and musicians. The have worked with a dementia specialist in the development of their project and performances will use stories from the past to bring laughter to the residents in the care homes.
Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum (Derry-Londonderry) – amount awarded: £8,000
Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum will deliver a range of arts programmes specifically targeting older men in the Derry-Londonderry area. They plan to use ‘men’s sheds’ that has been set up in the area and they are partnering with Gasyard Centre, Pilot’s Row, DEEDS, peninsula pottery and other community/statutory organisations to identify those diagnosed with dementia, and their carers, to encourage them to get involved. The project aims to work with 100 participants over the age of fifty in various art forms including pottery, textiles and visual art. The project will culminate in hosting an exhibition.
Beth Johnson Foundation (North Down and Ards) – amount awarded: £7,788
The Beth Johnson Foundation will deliver a project which aims to engage people with dementia in intergenerational arts workshops with primary school children based in Donaghadee, Enniskillen, Magherafelt and Newtownards. The project will also offer dementia-friendly training for the young people and will culminate in a series of celebratory sessions with all participants.
Stickyfingers Arts (Newry, Mourne and Down) – amount awarded: £7,840
Stickfingers in Newry will bring together 20 older people, who are living independently and experiencing isolation and loneliness, to enjoy weekly arts and craft workshops and create artwork. The workshops will include a range of arts activities including ceramics, fabrics, felting, drawing and painting and at the end of the project the artworks will be curated by a professional artist and exhibited. Stickyfingers has partnered with The Crisis Café, a social enterprise which supports young people, to offer intergenerational connections between the users of The Crisis Café and the participants of the Stickyfingers project.
Portadown Wellness Centre (Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon) – amount awarded: £8,400
The project will work with up to 56 older participants to deliver two weekly arts workshops over ten weeks in crafts, pottery, ceramics, sewing & woodwork. The project will primarily involve older people who live on their own and those who are most isolated or who have asked Portadown Wellness Centre about joining a group. Artworks created during the project will be displayed in Portadown Wellness Centre.
To view a full list of organisations offered Arts and Older People Programme funding visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding