Age/ncy: Age Allies at TATE Modern

In 1969, the psychiatrist Dr. Robert N. Butler coined the term ‘ageism’ to denote the way society denies older people the opportunities to pursue life, to reinvent themselves.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the anti-ageism movement, Age UK London’s Age Allies programme will join Flourishing Lives in the creation of ‘Age/ncy’ – an intergenerational arts installation at TATE Modern that will shatter sedate stereotypes of ageing and older people.

The free event will run from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th April at Tate Modern, in the Tate Exchange area on the Fifth floor of their new Blavatnik building.

Mental Health and the Arts

“Age UK’s recent Wellbeing Index went so far as to say that social and civic participation and creative and cultural participation are hugely important, together making up almost 1/8th of total wellbeing in later life. Furthermore, research by the Arts Council England in 2016 found that 76% of older people said arts and culture was important in making them feel happy, while over half of those surveyed said that arts and culture helped them to meet other people as well as encouraging them to get out and about. Meanwhile, the Mental Health Foundation discovered increased confidence and self-esteem amongst participants that were engaged in forms of participatory art.”

Research suggests that arts and culture are vital to older people’s mental health and wellbeing. We investigate the research and discuss some of the barriers to participation for older people.

An Age Friendly Strategy for Culture in London?

“Older people engage with culture for a similar range of reasons to younger people, and people’s motivations are not necessarily quantifiable. But there are also clearly identified personal and social benefits. There is a growing understanding of the psychological, cognitive and physical health benefits of active involvement in the arts for older people. Even simply being able to be an audience member may have a positive impact on someone’s social inclusion and psychological state.”

The Mayor is consulting on a draft London Cultural Strategy: Culture for all Londoners. How age friendly does it look so far? Here are some initial thoughts

Entelechy Arts 21st Century Tea Dance

Entelechy Arts – Growing Older Creatively

“Entelechy Arts’ weekly programmes have given people the opportunity to uncover forgotten or hidden skills and aspirations. The company now works with a network of over two hundred older singers, actors, poets, dancers, artists: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Work has happened in the lounges of sheltered housing schemes, community halls and arts centres. One of Entelechy Arts’ projects, Walking Through Walls, supports older residents living in care homes to get creative where they live as well as outside within the wider community.”

This May, Entelechy Arts are hosting a Royal Wedding 21st Century Tea Dance in the refurnished Queen Elizabeth Halls in London’s Southbank Centre. Find out all about the event and the ways in which the arts dramatically improve the wellbeing of older Londoners.

Let Participants Lead Workshop Activities!

“Sometimes we are led to believe that projects such as a ten minute theatre performance by amateur actors with dementia is successful, but this may not be the case as an unusual and sophisticated art project doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the participants. There is a hidden danger in progressive projects which are sometimes designed to attract participants and promote the work of the company or facilitator organising them, and not to serve the needs of the participants. It’s a blessing that so many artists and organisations are using art in healthcare settings but most of the time there are no assessments of the individuals’ needs or an evaluation of these projects. We keep proving success by showing pictures with older people laughing while they are holding a puppet or a brush. If the camera lens is focused on a happy older lady doing yoga, then out of frame is likely to be an older man with advanced dementia, who is asleep on an armchair. Does this make this activity successful?”

Activities in care homes can have a huge impact upon the lives of older people, but we must make sure the workshops cater to the needs of the participants, not the performers! Eirini Dermitzaki explores how we can make sure care home activities best serve older Londoners.

Glastonbury

Age Allies – Glastonbury and the Perception of Ageing

“When you think of older people what is the image that springs to mind? Where did this image come from? On what is it based? Do you judge all older people from the perspective of that image?

From what I can see now, Glastonbury has changed almost beyond recognition. But then, how would I know? The notion that any music festival can be experienced remotely on TV is absurd. It would be superficial. Judging by appearance is always unsatisfactory as it can never tell the whole story.”

With the papers suggesting the best place to watch Glastonbury is from your sofa, Richard Norman asks if he’d feel out of place at the festival at his age and looks into the ways that society’s perception of older people is often shaped by appearance.

Mother Tongues from Farther Lands

Mother Tongues from Farther Lands

This month, British theatre producer Dawinder Bansal launches a brand new theatre show Mother Tongues from Farther Lands. The uplifting, inspiring and emotion-filled show has real stories of South Asian women relayed by female celebrities in a series of gripping monologues. The four-city show was produced after speaking to women of all ages and sheds light on hidden stories within the Asian community.

We had the chance to catch up with Davinder to hear all about the new show and the importance of allowing older people to share their stories and experiences…

Lost Without Words

Lost Without Words Review

Imagine older actors in their 70s and 80s, actors who have spent their lives being other people, bringing life to other people’s words. Imagine they were on stage with nothing but themselves and no words but their own. No script, no map, a different show every night, all they have is a lifetime of theatre to help them find their way.

This is the central theme of Lost Without Words, which we were lucky enough to be invited to watch at the National Theatre last week. Here’s our review of the show…