Speakers from across Europe gathered at Cultra Manor recently to explore the benefits the arts can bring to older people through caring, with a number of progammes in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area being highlighted.
Organised by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, ‘The Art of Caring’ conference explored excellence in caring and brought together those working in a care setting with local and international projects and collaborations to look at ways of embedding arts into every day care.
Local Arts Council projects include one called ‘Mosaic of Life’ in Ballycastle which will deliver mosaic workshops with older people’s groups in local community venues including the Glens area of the north coast.
Artists from Dunseverick Art will work with participants who will make individual and group mosaics for display in the council’s arts centres and other community venues.
In Coleraine, Voice of Im-Age has already provided a 10 week creative art course for older people in the Heights and Killowen Neighbourhood Renewal areas. The course included outdoor art inspired by streetscape of Coleraine, the rudiments of pencil drawing and studies in ink and pen, development to paint, one care home session reminiscing through arts and crafts and designing one piece for exhibition.
Big Telly Theatre Company will also work with farmers in North Antrim to develop a festival with and for the wider community using a range of techniques. The project will explore, record and share farmers’ stories and celebrate their way of life. A festival will be held which will focus on the differences between the lived experience of older men in Coleraine and in Limavady, all of whom will contribute to the festival with visual, written and audio material.
Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council, explained how the conference focused on bringing art into everyday care experiences, saying: “The links between engagement in the arts and improved personal wellbeing are now well established. The Arts Council’s pioneering Arts & Older People Programme, funded by the National Lottery, has evidenced just how successful the arts are in making a positive impact on our older people.”
The original Arts & Older People Programme was set up in 2010.