Treasury of arts activities for older people

Treasury of arts activities for older people

By The Baring Foundation


A treasury of arts activities for older people. 50 activities, long and short for use with older people in any setting. Published by The Baring Foundation. Written by Liz Postlethwaite

 This little book is truly a cabinet of wonders. Do not be deceived by its simple descriptions of creative activities. Each one is a door onto experiences that might take you in all sorts of unexpected directions.

At the same time, these ideas have been tested day after day, sometimes for years. They work. They offer fun, discovery and delight. They fire the imagination. They have been invented by artists who love working with people and who have generously shared some of their best tricks.

It is a precious gift because seeing what others do, picking up things you like and adapting them to your own situation is vital to developing a participatory art practice.

We are very grateful to all the artists who have contributed to the collection and especially to Liz Postlethwaite for her creativity in presenting it all so clearly. We hope that you enjoy reading about them, but mostly that you will try these activities and make them your own.

François Matarasso, Chair of the Baring Foundation Arts Committee.

We live in changing times. Year on year our society in the UK is getting older. By 2040 one in twelve of us will be over 80, and the number of us who are aged over 65 will rise from the current number of 10 million to 15.5 million, with round 1.3 million of these people predicted to be living with dementia. In this context, it seems unsurprising that the cultural sector, and the participatory arts in particular, increasingly embraces and celebrates the possibility of work that specifically targets older people as participants, collaborators and creators.

Excitingly, it is increasingly recognised that the arts, and participatory arts in particular, have the potential to play a meaningful and significant role in embracing the challenges and opportunities that this changing demographic may bring. Whether we are thinking about older people living with dementia, those facing loneliness and isolation, or the ‘young old’ who are engaged, fit and well and looking for new ways to enliven and enhance their retirement, it is now understood that the arts and culture can play a crucial part in maintaining and improving the quality of life and wellbeing for many people in later life.

For those of us working in the participatory arts, there are ever-increasing opportunities to engage ourselves in this new and growing field and this Treasury  is a celebration of that great opportunity and possibility.

Whether you are an artist who is just starting out in this area, or one who has been working with older people for many years, it is hoped that it will serve as a source of practical ideas and inspiration. And that it is a book that will not just sit on a shelf but become battered, bruised and well thumbed in a manner fitting to a frequently used and trusted guide.

All of the activities that are included have been kindly shared by artists and organisations with a particular passion for and experience of work with older people. It is thanks to their generosity sharing their time and ideas that this Treasury has been possible.

Download the Treasury


Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2019