Our New Ageing Creatively Programme

Building on its varied and successful participation programme the Corn Exchange Newbury and New Greenham Arts will shortly be launching a new ‘Ageing Creatively’ programme. The programme will explore creative ways for older people to engage in the arts in both community and care settings offering activities and courses across all the arts including theatre, poetry, dance and visual arts.

The Corn Exchange Newbury and New Greenham Arts will shortly be launching an exciting new ‘Ageing Creatively’ programme.

We had a chat with Harriet, our new Ageing Creatively Coordinator about the programme and how she ended up at the Corn Exchange.

Harriet, welcome to the Corn Exchange team! What attracted you to join us on this project?

I was really impressed with the variety of outreach programmes the Corn Exchange delivers and how much effort they put into providing something for everyone.

I have always wanted to work in an arts centre as I find the energy and atmosphere incredibly inspiring.

How did you first get involved in arts provision for older people?

I have been involved in theatre since I was seven and went on to do a degree in Performing Arts. When I graduated I fell into a job working as an Activities Coordinator in a nursing home. As I progressed up through the company I became responsible for all the social and leisure needs for eleven care homes. Whilst the job was challenging it was also hugely rewarding. It showed me the clear and very real difference providing quality social and leisure engagement can make to a person’s health and quality of life. It also provided me with a real respect and affection for older people and a passion to improve their lives through art and social activities.

What are the benefits for older people joining creative projects?

As we all know, older people are at risk of loneliness and isolation whether living independently in the community or in a care home. Creative sessions provide an opportunity for people to come together and socialise in a fun, informal environment. Participants might learn a new skill, rediscover a hobby or perform to the public for the first time.

Tell us a bit about the Ageing Creatively programme that the Corn Exchange is launching…

The programme will explore creative ways for older people to engage in the arts in both community and care settings. We are also looking into providing creative training for care staff and ‘Dementia Friends’ information sessions (www.dementiafriends.org.uk) for local artists, tutors and practitioners. It is important to me that the programme is led by the participants and informed by their ideas and interests.

Our initial four projects are currently being finalised but they are likely to include a community choir, contemporary dance (specifically designed for older people with little previous dance experience), a cross generational poetry project linking day centres with local schools and a ‘This is me’ craft project looking at personal stories and identity.

Are there opportunities for the local community to get involved in the programme?

Yes, absolutely! We are really keen to talk to any artists who might be interested in running sessions for the programme and are holding an informal information session and Dementia Friends training afternoon on Monday the 24 October at New Greenham Arts at 5.30pm.

We are also looking for volunteers who might like to assist during sessions and engage with the project and its activities. We are especially interested to hear from anyone over the age of 55 who might be interested in joining a ‘Peer Volunteer’ scheme, helping to shape the programme and spread the word about what we are doing.

Of course we are very interested in hearing from anyone over 55 who would like to take part in the programme or would like to learn a little bit more about what is already planned.

We will be hosting an Ageing Creatively launch on at the Corn Exchange on Friday 28 of October from 2pm which will be open to everyone of all ages to pop in, learn more about the challenges older people face, take part in some craft workshops and have a cup of tea!

For more information keep an eye out on the website and in the foyer or email harrietw@cornexchangenew.co.uk

The Ageing Creatively programme has been funded by...