Sunday, March 17, 2013

...dementia, creative australia and funding

Dementia and Imagination : connecting communities and developing well-being through socially engaged visual arts practice. 

There is no cure for dementia, so attempts to maintain quality of life and well-being are crucial. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia. This will increase to 1.7 million people by 2051, and 1 in 5 people over 80 will have dementia by 2021 (Dementia UK, 2007). Dementia is now firmly on the international public and policy agenda, bringing opportunities for change on a wider scale for those living with the condition (Alzheimer‟s Society, 2012) and the communities in which they live. Changing awareness and understanding about dementia and enabling people to “live well‟ is central to the National Dementia Strategy (DoH, 2009).

Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is a partner in an exciting £1.2 million dementia and visual arts research project. We are part of a collaborative group that has been awarded a large grant in the Cultures, Health & Well-Being theme, one of five Connected Communities Programme themes which share funding in excess of £7m.

Thanks to Darren Browett for this image
The Connected Communities Programme is designed to help us understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life.  It is jointly funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Led by Bangor University’s Dementia Services Development Centre, the three-year project receives £1.2 million researching how taking part in visual arts can contribute to the health and well-being of people with dementia. This new research, due to commence in July, explores how dementia supportive communities might benefit from creative activities. Dr Gill Windle, from the Dementia Services Development Centre explains: "The project is about using a range of visual arts to challenging people's negative attitudes and to reconnect people with dementia back into their communities. We'll be researching how this works and how groups of people spread and share ideas, and measuring and tracking any resulting change in attitudes and perceptions about people with dementia."

Announcing the Awards, Rt Hon. David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, commented: “This capital investment in the Connected Community projects will lead to the development of new ways to engage communities in creating, interpreting and using arts and humanities research data. This will leave a sustainable resource and legacy for future research and for communities. 

Thanks to Alice Thwaite at Equal Arts
The three year project brings together social sciences researchers specialising in dementia, gerontology, psychology and economics with researchers in the visual arts, cultural policy and museum studies.

I’m thrilled to be part of the research team and my area of focus will be very much focused on the arts and particularly, the artist as researcher. Artists in their own right, will be a core element of the way we interrogate the impact part of interventions. Over the next few months we’ll be developing a web presence for this work and before that’s up and running, I’ll share updates via this blog.

This is an exciting and important piece of research and I look forward to working with the team. 

Other news coming in...

Westminster City Council has confirmed that it will cut all arts funding in the London borough by 2014/15. Soho Theatre and English National Ballet are among the groups set to lose funding under the plans, which will see the £350,000 the council currently spends on ‘commissioned community arts projects’ reduced to £192,00 in 2013/14 and cut completely in 2014/15.

Soho Theatre’s young people’s programmes, English National Ballet’s older people’s schemes and community and youth arts services from Paddington Arts, Dream Arts and Streetwise Opera will all be affected, along with around ten other initiatives led by arts groups. The decision to axe 100% of funding in Westminster follows a similar 100% cut by Somerset County Council, while plans to axe arts funding completely in Newcastle were reduced to 50% cuts, following local protests. Click on the image above for more details.

The Free World
I understand that the President of the ‘Free World’ is off to Israel this week. He’s having dinner with the first black Miss Israel apparently. I wonder if he’ll be attending the Arch of Arts in Health Conference in Haifa? Sounds like a match made in heaven, and what a photo opportunity eh? Click on Mickey to know more.

Creative Australia
This week saw the launch of the Australian Governments Cultural Policy, Creative Australia. It’s an interesting development and one that’s been received with mixed responses. Arts Access Australia comment: "The release of the Government’s Creative Australia policy yesterday has left artists with disability and arts and disability organisations lacking certainty about how the one in five Australians with disability will be empowered to contribute to arts and culture as audiences, artists, employees and arts leaders."

Whilst we’ve had black smoke and a murky greyish-white smoke from the Vatican, the arts/health community in Australia hasn’t commented on the policy document publicly yet. So, whilst I’m not on the ground in Aus and haven’t digested the entirety of the document, there are some interesting references to the arts and health which reflect the groundswell of activity over there - not least the powerful advocacy delivered by the Annual Arts of Good Health and Wellbeing International Conferences. This years of course, taking place in Sydney between 12th and 13th of November.

So with my outsider eye, here are some interesting passages.

Arts-led recovery projects have also demonstrated the powerful role arts and culture, and cultural workers, play in bringing communities together, breaking down social isolation and contributing to place-making, particularly following a community crisis or natural disaster. As Australia is recognised as one of the most multicultural countries in the world, government-funded initiatives like Harmony Day and A Taste of Harmony provide all Australians with the opportunity to celebrate our great cultural diversity. Further, evidence is mounting about the application of arts-led approaches in health settings to reduce isolation and aid recovery and rehabilitation.

The Australian Government will:
Develop an Arts and Health Framework with state and territory governments to recognise the health benefits of arts and culture and to provide an agenda for activity.

You can read the full document by clicking on that beautiful continent.  

Happy or Rich?

This remarkable little Steven Fry monologue turned up in my inbox this week. Normally I wouldn’t be the first one to sing his praises, primarily because of his omnipresence on the TV and wireless and his occaisional smugness, but - it has to be said, many of his observations here are so astute and compelling, they are worth your time, over a coffee perhaps?

A short comment on SEX -
or Meet the Fokkens
Without sharing names, another email that landed with me this week illustrated a mix of attitudes to sex and older people. It all related to this trailer for a documentary about Louise and Martine Fokkens who are twin sisters and sex workers in Amsterdam. Our attitudes to even discussing sex, are always a bit repressed - our ability to discuss prostitution sensibly, seems near impossible - but then, do we ever really discuss sex in relation to age? I think not. So here’s a trailer for something that could be intelligent, or could be sensationalist but at the very least, is a part of a much needed discussion. So here’s a trailer that has swearing and references to sex in it: you’ve been warned. 

Funding to Tackle Climate Change 
(UK / Worldwide)
Artists Project Earth (APE) which funds projects that tackle the effects of climate change has announced that its next funding round is now open for applications.  Applications are welcomed from organisations working to:
• Prevent the causes of climate change
• Defend communities and ecosystems against the impacts of climate change
• Support and build resilience for communities affected by natural disasters. 
• Grants usually range from £500 up to £20,000.
The closing date for applications is the 31st March 2013. Read more at:

Carnegie UK Trust Launches Test Town (UK)
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced the launch of a new £10,000 competition for young people to help rejuvenate town centres.  ‘TestTown’ is a new competition for young people throughout the UK aged between 16 and 25 to put forward their own ground-breaking ideas to redesign the future UK high street. The top 10 finalist teams with the most exciting ideas will be shortlisted in April with the climax of the competition taking place across three days in Dunfermline, Scotland this June. The 10 teams will take over vacant town centre space and trade with real consumers. The winners, who do the best job of turning their ideas into reality, will walk away with £10,000 to take their idea to market for real.  The closing date for applications is the 3rd May 2013. Read more at 

Tesco Charity Trust: Large Grants Programme (UK)
The Tesco Charity Trust has announced that its large grants programme is open for applications.  The Trust gives grants ranging between £4,000 and £25,000 to charities working in the areas of:
• Children’s welfare and education
• Elderly people’s welfare
• Adults and children with disabilities. 

The funding is available to charities working on an international, national or regional basis in areas where Tesco have a presence.  Applications for funding are considered three times a year and the next closing date for applications is the 24th May 2013. Read more at:

Thank you as ever for visiting the call again! C.P.