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15 November 2019

New report aims to inspire and enable older people to enjoy creative activities

A new report titled 'Older and wiser? Creative Ageing in the UK 2010-9' reviews the development of the creative ageing sector over the past decade, examining how far it has come and considering where it should go next.

Image of man with a laser-cut artwork in front of his face
Laser-cut artwork from the Digital Makers project at FabLab Belfast



The report, which was written by Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Research Fellow at King’s College London, and commissioned by The Baring Foundation, was launched at the Foundation last night.

Between 2010 and 2019, The Baring Foundation dedicated its arts funding to participatory activities involving older people. The report provides an overview of the ways in which the field has developed during this period. ‘Older and wiser?’ is intended as a useful document for the creative ageing sector, its leadership and its funders, with the hope that it will be instrumental in inspiring and enabling older people to get creative.

The report’s key findings were:

  1. The creative ageing sector is flourishing, with many high-quality programmes springing up around the country over the past decade. Training for artists and care workers has received a boost; there are now excellent resources available to inspire and guide, and spaces to meet and share ideas. The idea of ageing creatively become more widely accepted among arts organisations, funders and the general public.
  2. There is more to be done to ‘normalise the role of the arts in the lives of older people’. This will require a concerted effort on the part of funders, politicians, policymakers and national arts bodies to sustain and develop the excellent work currently underway.
  3. There is a strong need for the sector to reach out to older people who are not already engaged with the arts and to extend its reach further in terms of gender, class, ethnicity and sexuality.

Older and Wiser? demonstrates King’s integrated arts, health and wellbeing strategy in action, and follows on from the Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing report produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health & Wellbeing, for which King’s was research partner.

David Cutler, Director of the Baring Foundation, said, We are delighted that this new report by King’s College London confirms our impression of the creative ageing sector in 2019 – a sector growing in size, quality and professionalism, and bringing a huge amount of joy to an increasing number of older people and indeed the artists who work with them

“Seeing it develop has been an extremely rewarding experience for us as a funder and me personally. As the Foundation departs the field to begin a new funding theme in 2020, we hope this report will be a useful document for the leadership of the creative ageing sector and for its – hopefully numerous – future funders.”

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