Call for chapter abstracts for edited book ‘Creativity and resilience in older people’

Creativity and resilience in older people

We welcome the submission of chapter abstracts exploring the relationship between taking part in creative interventions and the development of social connectivity and resilience in older people. We are interested in chapters using empirical research, theory, policy and practice, and the book will bring together researchers from multiple disciplines. We are taking a broad view of creative interventions including the built environment, housing, cultural participation, lifelong learning, theatre, visual art, music, literature, filmmaking, community gardening, digital media and product design.

Please submit an abstract of 250 words including background/purpose, methods, results, conclusions/implications by 20th April. Please consult the editors if you have any questions.


Anna Goulding, Research Associate, The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University

Andrew Newman, Senior Lecturer, The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University


Final Workshop – future scoping

Our final seminar drew together learning from the previous workshops and discussion centred around ways of moving arts and older people work forward. Dr Helen Manchester from the University of Bristol described how their AHRC Connected Communities project ‘Tangible Memories’ was progressing, and it was useful hearing how they have made objects of escape, of exchange, or objects containing stories based around reminiscence. It was also great trying out some of the prototype digital media models such as the cushion with buttons that plays a person’s desert island discs or a duck that holds people’s memories. Helen and her team’s thinking ties in with ours around enabling people with dementia to create new meanings instead of solely focusing on reminiscence.

Andrew Newman and Kate Sweeney talked us through developments to the AHRC Connected Communities project ‘Dementia and Imagination’ – we discussed the qualitative and quantitative methods being used, and the challenge of capturing the process of engagement. It was particularly interesting considering the observation tool we are using. Kate, a participatory artist on the project, shared her person-centred approach and gave us a useful perspective on what she views as a successful exchange with participants.

In terms of moving forward, we are interested in how the four different models of partnership working develop as part of the Baring Foundation and Arts Council England ‘Arts and Older People in Care Programme’. It might be that a model based around membership, an approach that works across the whole local authority or a model based around working with a national care provider provide us with examples to be replicated?  It is important for research, policy and practice to continue developing a dialogue with the Care Home sector and programmes such as Equal Art’s ‘Creative Carers’ seems one effective way of bringing together artists and carers. We are continuing to think about ideas around resilience and how creative interventions might foster connectivity – news about a proposed book will follow.

3rd Workshop: Policy and Practice


Our third lively workshop looked at partnership working between Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation and National Museums Liverpool and the Department of Health.  Philip Cave, Director of Engagement at Arts Council England, described developments in terms of engaging older audiences.  He introduced two of the projects from the Arts and Older People in Care programme, a £1 million programme running over three years. In discussions we touched on the difficulty of outcomes and the tensions between health outcomes and providing a good art experience.

We then heard from two of the Arts and Older People in Care programmes – based on two distinct models which aim to embed practice. Kate Duncan, the Creative Programme Manager from City Arts, Nottingham, described their wide-ranging city-focused approach, whilst Deborah Munt, Director of We Do, West Yorkshire, described their membership model. Our speakers were generous in sharing challenges such as fitting in with care home timetables, the slow lead-in time required to develop relationships with care homes and designing programmes to cater for non-verbal needs

Finally, Claire Benjamin, Deputy Director Education and Visitors from National Museums Liverpool described their ambitious House of Memories programme.  She described both their successful engagement with policy and their commitment to providing high quality training which continues to be rolled out across the country.

The workshop stood out as a safe place in which to navigate exciting developments in arts and older people work.

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Guest speakers (l-r) Claire Benjamin, Kate Duncan, Deborah Munt, and Phillip Cave


Arts and older people: policy and practice workshop

Where: Newcastle University

When: Wednesday 22 October 12:00pm – 4:30pm.

The third workshop, ‘Arts and older people: policy and practice’,  focuses on developments in cultural and health policy around arts and older people work. We will hear about the partnership between Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation and their ‘Arts in and older people in care’ programme. Two of the projects will be represented, the City Arts Nottingham and Nottingham City Council collaboration, and the We Do West Yorkshire project. These projects represent two distinct models of working –work being embedded either across the local authority or through a membership programme. We will also explore the National Museum Liverpool’s House of Memories training programme which has been developed with support from the Department of Health and targets carers, health and social providers.

Speakers include:

  • Philip Cave (Arts Council England): ‘Arts Council England: overview of current arts and older people’s work and emerging thinking on future activity’
  • Kate Duncan (City Arts Nottingham) and Sharon Scaniglia (Nottingham City Council): ‘Imagine, development, progress and challenges’
  • Deborah Munt (We Do West Yorkshire): ‘In the club: building resilience by lighting fires’
  • Claire Benjamin (Liverpool Museums): ‘The House of Memories programme’

If you would like to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible to, with the following information:

– any access or dietary requirements you have

– whether you require a travel bursary to attend.

Everyday Creativity, Everyday Resilience: 2nd Seminar


Andy Miles led us masterfully through some of the findings on cultural consumption around ageing, bringing to the fore the importance of participation per se – his interrogation of official and unofficial cultural practices is something that ties in with our New Dynamics of Ageing work.  He then looked at an interesting case study involving both a settled and incoming population and their approach to formalizing a resilience strategy.  Questions were raised about who would take over in subsequent generations.

Karen Scott interrogated some of the governmental responses to wellbeing and resilience, noting the limits and indefensible application of the positive psychology movement’s five-point-star-jump plans to the objectively challenging circumstances individuals face.

Everyone wanted to know what was in Michael Eades’s ‘Festival in a Box’ – why, a cornucopia of revolutionary ideas, people!  Michael analysed some of his data to think about everyday resilience and it seemed the biggest shift was in the attitudes and understandings of the artist facilitators around dementia.

Phil Jones took on Karen’s baton by jumping into his Cultural Intermediation work.  We were impressed by his app that allows people to comment on their surroundings and how they might be changed.  He also brought in some of the challenges of what to do with false narratives (the collective stories people tell about a business closing which might reinforce wider narratives around immigration and community change) and some of the everyday challenges of getting data, for example, male tour guides accompanying Muslim women.

Andy Newman talked us through the way different groups had made sense of the contemporary art they saw in our New Dynamics of Ageing project and dealt with the difficult question of whether the art generated social connections or whether social connections enabled people to access the art.

I talked about the gaps in existing resilience research and how this married with my own conversations with older people (for example, the importance of everyday rituals such as learning to cook for yourself as a widower and the motivational challenge involved in ‘simply’ joining a club – see Karen’s five-point plan).  I uncontroversially called for a more subtle conceptualization of the relationship between individual and community resilience and argued that the focus on individual characteristics only helps people beats the odds, rather than remove the odds that put people at risk in the first place.  Still very unsure of whether our creative interventions help people thrive – is survival/coping a more realistic aim?

Everyday Creativity, Everyday Resilience

The role of creative interventions in fostering connectivity and resilience in older people

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Second Workshop: Everyday Creativity, Everyday Resilience

Date: Tuesday 8 July 2014, 11-4pm

Venue: Newcastle University

The second workshop will look at everyday participation and everyday resilience and will consist of short presentations and discussions.  The series of workshops aim to explore how creative interventions can help develop connectivity and resilience for older people. Academics, practitioners and policy makers will critically reflect on the outcomes from a range of projects including community gardening, filmmaking, the built environment, product design, digital media, theatre, music, cultural learning, visual arts interventions for those with early stage dementia and festivals.

Speakers include:

Dr Andrew Miles, University of Manchester, ‘Age, Participation and the City’;

Dr Karen Scott, Newcastle University, ‘Resilience and Social Renewal’;

Dr Phil Jones, University of Birmingham, ‘Community Mapping and Creative Interventions’;

Dr Michael Eades, University of London, ‘Bloomsbury Festival in a Box’;

Andrew Newman, Newcastle University, ‘Social Connectivity’;

Anna Goulding, Newcastle University, ‘Challenges with the Concept – part 2’.

Whilst everyone is welcome, there is a capacity limit so if you would like to book a place please contact We would especially like to hear from you if you are interested in contributing to a special journal edition around this theme.

Cultural Animation workshop

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Sue Moffat, Director of New Vic Borderlines, Stoke-on-Trent, led an absorbing, testing and inspiring workshop using cultural animation techniques.  Equal Arts helped us pair up a group of older people engaged with their current cultural programme with a group of residents from a sheltered accommodation unit.  We took our older people for a visit to the Discovery Museum and then used the workshop to explore what resilience meant to our participants and how engagement with cultural interventions might, or might not, contribute to developing resilience.

Workshop 1/4/14

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Thanks to everyone for coming and contributing so much to our first workshop in the series.  Rose Gilroy shared her focus group research on co-housing, where rather than asking, ‘Where do we want to live?’, older people questioned, ‘how do we want to live?’.  Dr Gill Windle drew from her extensive experience researching the concept and shared some of the challenges associated with measurement.  A special warm thanks goes to Maureen McClarens, Muriel Williamson, Violet Sadler, Shirley Glass and Anne Gray who offered us their open and emotional accounts of what resilience means to them. In the afternoon, Sophia de Sousa from Glass-House Community-Led Design led a workshop with Dr Katerina Alexiou where we took on the role of different stakeholders and came up with some suggestions for redesigning a piece of communal space.

We are aiming to understand how creative interventions can help develop connectivity and resilience for older people. We will critically reflection on a range of projects including community gardening, filmmaking, the built environment, product design, digital media, theatre, music, cultural learning and visual arts interventions for those with early stage dementia. Juxtaposing different approaches will help develop innovative ways of thinking about resilience and propose solutions to issues raised by community partners.

Four seminars will be undertaken consisting of presentations, workshops, and breakout sessions. A group of older people will play a full part in the workshops and explore what connectivity and resilience means to them.