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Creative Ageing in the UK – Past, Present and Future

Interest has never been higher in arts and older people in the UK but there remains severe challenges, especially at a time of deep cuts in public funding for the arts and for services to older people, while dealing with rising demands. This talk will look at what one funder, the Baring Foundation, has been attempting by way of catalysing work using quite modest resources.

In 2009, we published a mapping study of participatory arts with older people called Ageing Artfully (all our publications are available on our website). It concluded that, although there was a host of exciting work being undertaken by arts organisations across the UK, this had been despite a lack of support at a policy level. Consequently it was a neglected area (especially in comparison to arts focusing on children and young people). Much more needed to be done, especially for those older people with least access to the arts either living in care homes or in poverty and isolation in the community.

Since then we have made 44 direct grants to arts organisations from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall, using all art forms and exemplifying different delivery models and elements of good practice. Many of these can be found in a new publication, After You are Two: exemplary practice in arts with older people by Kate Organ. The Foundation has also published four other reports including Winder Fires: agency and art in old age by Francois Matarasso and an evidence review of the impact of the arts on the lives of older people by the Mental Health Foundation.

We have established funding partnerships with three of the UK Arts Councils. We have set up a #1 million fund on arts in residential care with the Arts Council England. In Northern Ireland we have partnered with the Public Health Agency and the Arts Council Northern Ireland to run a grants programme and with Creative Scotland we have commissioned a new month long national festival of creative ageing, 'Luminate', based on the model of Bealtaine in Ireland. Finally we have established a partnership with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to give travelling fellowships on arts and older people. All this work and more can be seen on a dedicated website - www.ageofcreativty.co.uk.

David CutlerDavid Cutler

After a varied twenty year career in the public and voluntary sectors, David was appointed Director of the Baring Foundation in 2003. The Baring Foundation is one of the UK’s best known independent funders. The Foundation is the most significant funder of the advice sector and set up a Commission on the future of social welfare legal advice as well as high level Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector. The Foundation also funds international development work with displaced people. David has travelled widely in Africa and co-chairs the specialist group of UK funders on international development.

The Baring Foundation is the leading funder of participatory arts with older people and has created a number of strategic partnerships to catalyse the issue. He has occupied a number of board positions including the Commission for the Compact overseeing the relations of the Government to civil society in England, the Primary Care (health) Trust for a London Borough, the British Institute of Human Rights and the UK Section of Amnesty International. He recently was a member of a national review of leadership in the voluntary sector. Currently he is a trustee of the Tropical Health Education Trust which links health workers in Britain with the Global South.

David is the author of over a dozen publications including Ageing Artfully on arts and older people and has degrees from Oxford University and the London School of Economics.