Belfast Telegraph

Unusual display at the Public Records Office aims to get older men involved in the arts

By Ricky Thompson

The elderly should not be 'written off' and creativity has no age limit - that's the message from an initiative which is striving to get older people to take part in fun activities.

Spring Chickens is an intergenerational programme which uses the theatre arts to increase creative expression and engagement within older communities and challenge local perceptions about their potential.

On Monday, a product of this programme resulted in unusual but impressive works of art being on display at the Public Record Office in Belfast.

They were created by 20 community groups over a six month period as part of the Northern Ireland Science Festival, which leads into British Science week.

Over the past six months, theatre company Big Telly has been working with a range of groups using objects to explore stories of identity through moving sculpture, display and sound.

Spring Chickens has visited various locations, making the twelve amazing works of art on the way, including themed sculptures, models and mechanised objects.

The project involved the participants making links with the community, finding ways to communicate and helping fight against isolation.

Since 2007, the flexible year-round programme has been using a person-centred approach of continuing participation.

Emma Copeland, creative facilitator for the Spring Chickens Programme, said: "The programme was born out of a need to get older people involved in the arts.

"It's about not writing people off when they're older and being aware they've still got a lot of things to give to society and creativity is one of those things.

"This project, in particular, was about engaging older men in the arts. We found that there are lots of groups out there with mostly women. Men tend to shy away from groups so we were trying to find a way to tie them back into the community."

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