‘If These Hands Could Sing’, a project with the residents and staff of Mooncoin Nursing Home, Co Kilkenny and musician Liam Merriman, as part of National Arts in Nursing Home Day 2023. Photo by Vicky Comerford.

Experience: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person is a learning programme led by Age & Opportunity and Réalta, the National Body for Arts + Health in Ireland. Experience 2023 takes place on Thursday 7 December at the Réalta/Waterford Healing Arts Centre for Arts + Health, University Hospital Waterford.

Designed for arts practitioners, over the course of the day, Experience 2023 will aim to outline the essential elements involved in working with older people in an arts and health context, and will feature presentations by some of the most experienced and inspiring practitioners working in this specialised field of practice. This is the first time Experience is taking place in person, having been an online programme for the last two years.

Experience was devised in 2021 in response to the need for more training and practical orientation for arts practitioners who already have experience of participatory work in a health context, and who are interested in developing their practice to include working with older people. Participants over the last two years have described the programme as “excellent”, “essential”, “uplifting”, “insightful”, “inspiring”, “full of great advice and ideas”, “loads of practical and creative information offered” and “so well put together, beyond what I imagined”, with participants highlighting the expertise and passion of the speakers, and the opportunity to interact with fellow artists.

In a programme which strives once again 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 artists, healthcare professionals and arts + health participants, and opportunities to share ideas and build contacts with their peers.

Keynote speaker
Keynote speaker Dr Lucy Pollock is a consultant geriatrician and the author of the highly regarded The Book About Getting Older.  The British Geriatrics Society described Lucy’s book as a “warm and compassionate book (which) gets to the heart of older age”, and actor Sandy Toksvig said it was “The most important book about the second half of your life you’ll ever read”.

Lucy’s presentation for Experience 2023 – entitled ‘Medicine for the heart: what matters most for older people’ – represents an extraordinary opportunity for participants to learn from an empathetic and inspiring practitioner, whose passion for her work and engaging and good-natured style will strike a chord with participants from any discipline.

In addition to Dr Pollock, the exciting line-up of speakers also includes interdisciplinary artist Tess Leak, Age and Opportunity’s Engage Programme Training & Development Facilitator Brian Dooney, Activities Director at Bantry General Hospital Sarah Cairns, healthcare musician and trainer Liam Merriman, dance artist Ailish Claffey, visual artist Joanna Hopkins, arts programme participant Roger Green, with additional contributions from Tara Byrne (Age & Opportunity) and Claire Meaney (Réalta/Waterford Healing Arts).

Places are limited to 20 and cost €20.00 each, including lunch. The programme is open to professional arts practitioners with experience/ interest in participatory arts work in a health context.

Those interested in participating should email arts@ageandopportunity.ie by Wednesday 15 November at 5pm with the following details:

  • Expression of interest: Why you would like to participate in this programme and how it will benefit your practice (50-100 words)
  • Summary of participatory work to date (50-100 words)
  • Your CV/resume showing your arts practice and arts participation experience.

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

Further details are available from www.realta.ie or email arts@ageandopportunity.ie

Experience 2023: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person is funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.


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