Visionaries: A South Asian arts and ageing counter narrative
This research, by Arti Prashar and Elizabeth Lynch, looks across England to explore the experience of older artists, and offers insight into work led by South Asian artists and practitioners with their communities. Read this report if you want to know more about older South Asian artists who are working in England or better understand the diverse needs and interests of South Asian communities. Commissioned by CADA, the Creative Ageing Development Agency.
One of my early jobs in heritage was at the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive (SALIDAA since renamed SADAA). The pioneering digital archive was established by a group of formidable older South Asian women creatives including the literary critic Ranjana Ash (who was then in her eighties) to find and preserve the manuscripts, costumes, album covers and musical scores of twentieth century British Asian culture.
Now as the Director of a major cultural institution in one of England’s super-diverse cities, I welcome CADA’s commitment to bringing the widest range of voices and perspectives into the field of creative ageing. While Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, with over 40% of the population under 25, England as a whole, like many countries across the globe is an ageing society. Embracing the diversity of older people is crucial, if arts and heritage organisations are to achieve their ambitions to be culturally inclusive and relevant.
Having spent much of my career working in learning and engagement, I understand the value of creative activity and its contribution to individual wellbeing and community building. I also recognise the need to acknowledge the contribution of professional artists from a wide range of backgrounds to our understanding of the world. This report explores these two important aspects of creative ageing in our ethnically diverse society. Firstly, it documents the experiences and aspirations of older South Asian artists many of whom, as first generation immigrants, were pioneers and secondly, it highlights examples of South Asian led arts and heritage projects from across England, drawing out important learnings. This report is just the beginning of CADA’s journey building relationships with older people from global majority communities and those that work with and for them. I look forward to seeing how this work progresses and the recommendations are used to deliver the change we want to see.
Creative ageing is about the quality of everyone’s later lives and all our futures.
Joint CEO Birmingham Museums Trust