Anne Gallacher, Director of creative ageing organisation Luminate, tells us why age should be no barrier when it comes to accessing the arts.
“Not only does Scotland have an ageing population, but our older people are not engaging with the arts,” says Anne Gallacher, Director of Luminate, as she explains why Scotland needs a creative organisation devoted to older people.
Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing organisation, was established in 2012 to celebrate our creative lives as we age. “For the past five years, Luminate has run nationwide creative festivals. Our programme is jam-packed featuring new work, collaborations and international projects especially planned for the festival, alongside independently-run initiatives led by a variety of community organisations,” explains Anne.
This year, however, marks a change in direction for the organisation. Inspired by the positive impact the festival was having, Anne explains that it became apparent that there was more work that could be done to allow both the organisation’s partners and the older people they work with to flourish. “Now we are running an extensive year-round programme, as well as the festival every two years,” adds Anne.
“There is an increase in the creative work going on with and for older people across Scotland, which is brilliant and means there are lots of new areas of work to explore. For example, following the successful Channel 4 documentary series looking at the impact of building a relationship between a nursery and a care home, there is a new found appetite for this type of partnership.” To facilitate this, Luminate is working with Starcatchers, an early years arts organisation, to establish a relationship with artists with the relevant experience to co-design a creative activity which sees both sets of groups benefit.
- If you join a local art class, not only are you decreasing isolation by meeting new people, but there are the physical benefits of getting out, not to mention how it benefits your mental health.
There is a growing amount of evidence of the positive impact of creative activity on all of us as we get older. As Anne explains, the effect is multi faceted, “If you join a local art class, not only are you decreasing isolation by meeting new people, but there are the physical benefits of getting out, not to mention how it benefits your mental health.” With 2017 figures showing that one in five people in Scotland is aged 65 or over and that the over 75 age bracket will be the fastest growing over the next ten years, the importance of Luminate’s work is huge.
As you might imagine for an organisation that has continued to develop and change direction, a key focus for Luminate is evaluation, “When we work on new projects, it’s important that we evaluate and publish our findings, helping us but also allowing other arts organisations, care and community groups, to learn how to inform their work,” Anne says, “Scotland is not unique in having an ageing population and the learning process also helps other countries as well.”
The importance Luminate places on collaboration and evaluation extends to those who support them, and Anne is thankful to those, including Baillie Gifford, who are open to them trying new things, “Baillie Gifford’s support enables us to network with other organisations and stakeholders we may otherwise not have been able to reach.” By continuing to bring people together to share work and learn, Anne has high hopes that looking towards the future, Luminate will continue to extend its reach, “We have been very successful in engaging with a lot of communities, but Scotland is vast and we are not reaching everywhere yet. We hope to both continue to spread our work further across the country while sharing and learning from other places worldwide too.”