Experience: Sarah Cairns

Sarah Cairns, Activities Director, Bantry General Hospital. Photo credit: Kevin O’Farrell.

Experience: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person is an online learning programme, taking place over three mornings from 7-9 December 2021 in partnership with Age & Opportunity, Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. 

This programme aims to outline the essential elements involved in working with older people in an arts and health and/or community context, and will feature presentations by some of the most experienced and inspiring practitioners working in this specialised field of practice. Experience is funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.

The programme is open to professional arts practitioners with experience in participatory arts work in a health and/or community context. Places are limited to 20 and cost €20.00 each, which covers attendance on all three days.

What to Expect
Experience has been devised in response to the need for more training and practical orientation for arts practitioners who already have experience of participatory work in a health and/or community context, and who are interested in developing their practice to include working with older people.  In a programme which aims to be inspiring and pragmatic, participants will gain an overview of approaches and ways of thinking in this rewarding area of work, practical information and advice for different art forms and disciplines, valuable insight from recent case studies, and opportunities to share ideas and build contacts with their peers.


Tuesday 7 December:
Presentations by:

  • Dr Paul Finucane, Geriatrician and co-editor of Emergence, A Celebration of the Wisdom and Resilience of Ageing.
  • Caroline Schofield, Artist whose practice includes working with older people through a range of programmes with Waterford Healing Arts Trust, Age & Opportunity and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.
  • Anam Beo, independent Arts + Health organisation and authors of an arts charter for working with older people.

Workshop with:

  • Sarah Cairns, Activities Director, Bantry General Hospital

Wednesday 8 December:
Presentations by:

  • Margo Daly, Clinical Nurse Manager, St Joseph’s Ward, Bantry General Hospital
  • Liam Merriman, musician and trainer with Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Kids Classics

Case Studies presented by:

  • Outlandish Theatre Platform, collaborative theatre company making new theatre with artists and communities
  • Justin Grounds, Composer and Violinist, Arts for Health West Cork

Workshop with:

  • Philippa Donnellan, Dance Artist whose creative practice is collaborative and multi-disciplinary.

Closing presentation by:

  • Dominic Campbell, Director, Creative Ageing International

Thursday 9 December:
Networking Morning, facilitated by Emma Eager, Project Co-ordinator, artsandhealth.ie

Book Your Place 
Places for Experience cost €20 and are limited to 20 people in order to make this a valuable experience for all participants.

Those interested in participating should email what@hse.ie by Wednesday 17 November 2021 with the following details:

  • Expression of interest: Why you would like to participate in this programme (50-100 words)
  • Summary of participatory work to date (50-100 words)

Selected participants will be notified by 22 November and sent the link to complete their booking.

Participants will receive the Zoom link for each day the evening before the event.

Live captions will be available each day if required.  If your application is successful, please indicate at that time if you wish to avail of this.

Programme Partners

Age & Opportunity’s vision is for an Ireland where all older people can be more active, more visible, more creative, more connected, more confident more often.  The organisation’s Arts Programme provides opportunities for older people to be more creative more often, to create meaningful participation and representation for all older people in cultural and creative life and to demonstrate and celebrate how creative potential can improve with age.  The programme is based on the annual Bealtaine Festival in May and year round resource and development initiatives designed to support artists, arts participants and arts organisations.

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre is a hub of arts activity in the heart of Skibbereen, County Cork, providing access to and engagement with the arts for all.  Its vibrant and diverse participation programme enriches the visitor experience through workshops, masterclasses, film screenings, and dance and discussion platforms, and encourages equality of access for people of all ages and cultures through its long-term programmes and projects. Since 2005, in partnership with the HSE, Cork Education and Training Board and Cork County Arts Office, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre has been delivering a programme for older people in healthcare settings across West Cork.

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings.  WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates our sense of identity and creativity. Core funded by the Arts Council, WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website artsandhealth.ie.


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