Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People is an investigative collaborative venture looking at barriers to participation in the arts for older people. At the heart of the enquiry is a creative exploration of fresh approaches to arts engagement with older people with the aim of advancing best practice models.
This new publication brings together findings from three artist-residency and older-people engagement projects in Cork that took place in diverse settings over a 12-month period during 2019.
Three distinct arts organisations hosted three artist residencies: the city-based multi-disciplinary Cork Midsummer Festival; MusicAlive, a county wide organisation, specialising in participatory arts and health practice; and Sirius Arts Centre, an arts venue located in the heritage town of Cobh.
Marie Brett with Cork Midsummer Festival
Cultural Lore took the form of a creative enquiry into how older people might relate to and engage with the arts, particularly in a festival context. Visual artist Marie Brett proposed that cultural lore and knowledge can be lost from our collective consciousness as technological advances supplant more traditional manual methods (Lore as a body of cultural tradition and knowledge passed from person to person by word of mouth and action).
Her residency sought to explore and activate creative engagement with older people in Cork to reveal and enliven such cultural lore knowledge and reposition its contemporary meaning as a vibrant and critical necessity – creatively mobilising what a new tomorrow can look like. With this in mind, the residency asked the fundamental question: What does cultural lore offer people today as a way to (re)gain a healthier mind, body, land and home?
Freedom to Fly
Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon with MusicAlive
Dancer and choreographer Helga Deasy and musician and choir leader Susan McManamon worked collaboratively on two interdisciplinary artist residencies – Helga was lead artist at Nazareth House, a nursing home in Mallow, and Susan was lead artist at Mayfield Men’s Shed. The artists explored how fusing voice, movement, music and the written word can inspire participation and a process of co-creation. In collaboration with the participants in the respective settings, they worked with breath, movement, voice, sound, rhythm and poetry, focusing on a creative process that invited the community to engage as singers, movers, listeners and creators.
Colette Lewis with Sirius Arts Centre
The Sirius Arts Centre is a regional arts venue located in the heritage town of Cobh. The focus of this enquiry with visual artist Colette Lewis was to consider new approaches to arts engagement with older people that are more accessible, innovative and engaging within a regional context. The artist residency concentrated the enquiry around two diverse contexts: a healthcare institutional setting in Park Road Day Care Centre and a new community of interest formed through an open call around an arts project ‘Local Know-How’ with the wider Cobh and Great Island community.
Colette researched local place-based embodied knowledge through collaborative engagement and utilised this artistic methodology to explore a more meaningful approach to arts engagement with older members of the community.
Creative Enquiry Partners
The Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People programme draws on the creative inputs and specialist know-how of the different partners that make up the consortium. Creative Enquiry is an initiative of two Cork based local authorities, Cork City Council and Cork County Council arts offices, in strategic partnership with Age and Opportunity, the national organisation supporting people to reach their full potential as they age; the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare – Cork South Community Work Department, facilitating community health and wellbeing initiatives; and the three independent partner arts organisations.
Access the publication here.