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Video: New community art projects creating a generation of older artists across Northern Ireland


Over 2,000 older people are set to gain from £160,000 Arts Council investment into arts and age project in 2017.

Twenty community-based arts projects for older people are celebrating this week 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, through its Arts and Older People’s Programme and the Public Health Agency.

Organisations across the region which have benefited from the funding, including 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 (iPads) to create new material.

Paul Kane from the Oh Yeah project, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This funding makes for a great start to 2017. 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 what we create!

"The project is sure to be a fun way for older people to enjoy arts, and, importantly bring stimulation and lots of noise and creativity to their everyday lives.”

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 tackle isolation and social exclusion and with the help of artists, 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, music to circus skills.

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

• Bardic Educational Arts & Media, Young at heART, Donaghmore

• Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Mosaic of life, Ballycastle

• Streetwise Community Circus Workshops, Age-ility Circus, BELFAST

• Waterside Theatre Company Ltd, Telling Tales Theatre Company, Londonderry

• Open Arts, Words of Wisdom, Belfast

• Killyclogher Senior Citizens Club, Art Matters, Omagh

• Live Music Now (LMN), Sharing through Songs of the People, Limavady

• Oh Yeah Music Centre, Shake, Rattle & Roll, Belfast

• Play Resource Warehouse Limited, A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, Belfast

• Action Mental Health, Shared Histories, Antrim

• Beth Johnson Foundation, Havin a Yarn, Newtownards

• West Bann Development, Voice of I’m-Age, Coleraine

• Prime Cut Productions Limited, Not Not Myself, Belfast

• Big Telly Theatre Company, GlenFest, Portstewart

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