Cork City Council and Cork County Council have chosen four artist residencies for the next cycle of their collaborative Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People programme. This project explores new and unique ways to increase older people’s engagement with the arts and improve best practice models. Cork City Council and Cork County Council are working in conjunction with a multitude of other partners, such as: Age & Opportunity, the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare-Cork South Community Work Department and the organisations hosting the artist residencies. Though these entities are diverse, they all share the same value statement:
“There is a universal right to participate in arts and culture. The arts has the potential to be transformative, to change and influence the attitudes and experiences of citizens. The arts can impact our wellbeing through the whole of our lives.
To sustain the arts we need to interrogate how art is made accessible, innovative and engaging. We need to embed access to the arts in our values as organisations but also action those values in what we deliver. Sometimes this is about policy development, about advocacy, about inspiration, about co-creating and sometimes this is about addressing practical barriers.”
Subsequently, the Enquiry venture seeks to answer three main questions:
- What are the barriers to participation in the arts for older people?
- How can we characterise quality arts engagement for older people?
- What do the arts offer us as we age?
The three host organisations are the perfect venues for exploring possible answers to the above queries.
Cork Midsummer Festival, a multi-disciplinary and city-based host, strives to strengthen the connection between the broader community and older people’s groups in the city. The Festival encourages artists to contribute their expertise in a way that activates creative arts practice for older people and adequately addresses older people’s needs so that quality arts experiences are accessible. Marie Brett is the selected artist for this residency. Brett is a visual artist who uses her artwork to reflect on contemporary life. She combines sculpture, digital media and immersive installation to create her poignant pieces.
Brett, quoted in a Cork City Council and Cork County Council press release, said: “It’s fantastic working with Cork Midsummer, this Creative Enquiry residency touches on meaningful issues that affect us all, particularly as we age. I’m interested in cultural lore and keen to meet Cork people who’re willing to share their knowledge of natural cures and charms, folk cooking and the paranormal. Through gathering, making, and working with tribal elders, we’ll be asking – what does cultural lore offer people’s today as a way to (re)gain a healthier mind, body, land and home?”
MusicAlive is an arts and mental health organisation based in Skibbereen. MusicAlive centers around participatory creative work in both health care and community settings. They seek projects that are innovative, engaging and accessible to any who may want to join. MusicAlive cites creative response as central to their work in the wellbeing and mental health of older people. The organisation will work with two groups: one in north Cork and the other in Cork City. Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon were the chosen artists for this organisation.
Helga Deasy is choreographer and dance artist who practice includes solo performances, collaborations with other dance artists, and interdisciplinary work. This includes music, film, theatre, visual art and circus. Susan McManamon is classically trained in piano and has also accompanied, sang with and conducted numerous choirs. She holds accessibility, sustainability, inclusivity and fun as the core components of her work.
Deasy and McManamon said: “We are delighted to work with MusicAlive on the Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People project. We feel very passionate about the transformative power of music and dance and this is a unique and very exciting opportunity for us to explore the significance of the arts in creative ageing.”
Sirius Arts Centre is an arts venue in Cobh that aims to actively engage the town community, its groups and the surrounding area in the arts. Though the Centre does aim for some outcome (a final presentation, new performance groups and so on), emphasis lies on the process. Artists are encouraged to dutifully explore the initiating and building of substantial relationships through the arts. Collette Lewis is the chosen artist for this organisation and the last residency of the programme. She primarily utilises photography, video and installation practices. She also incorporates collaborative research processes, social contexts, and documentary and experimental approaches. Her work centers around the themes of place, presence and embodiment.
Lewis said: “I am interested in connecting and working with older people living in Cobh and the Great Island area to research and unearth latent forms of place-based knowledge that have slipped out of current usage yet embody potential relevance for public discourse.”
Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People is funded through the Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon Invitation to Collaborate scheme and will run from June 2019 to January 2020 in Cork City and north County Cork.