Inside Out Festival – Press Release


Inside Out Festival – opening the door to care settings as places where inspiring and important art can be created

Magic Me has been awarded one of the ‘Make It Happen’ Waltham Forest Borough of Culture fellowship grants for the Inside Out Festival [1].  The festival will take place in November 2019 in Leyton and Leytonstone and is part of Magic Me’s Quality Street programme [2].

Inside Out Festival will take a bold step to showing a different side of intergenerational work.  Working with a care home and a retirement home Magic Me is inviting younger adult neighbours, who enjoy creative making, to pair up with residents to create works that will invite the wider public to reconsider the ‘care home’ as an arts space.

Intergenerational projects have captured the imagination of the nation and policy makers and influencers are catching on to the benefits they bring, particularly the benefits of intergenerational creative projects. [3]  There is also a wealth of evidence of the benefits of creative participation for older people and this is increasingly being celebrated in festivals, programming and media stories.  [4]

However, the dominating picture of intergenerational creative projects is still of young primary school children working alongside older people in care homes, and for older creativity it is of spry 70-somethings creating contemporary dance pieces, or established artists (writers, actors, painters) who are ‘still going’.  What we see less of is adult intergenerational projects – 20 and 30 somethings working with the over 70s, or festivals taking place in care homes themselves.

Magic Me has already experimented successfully with intergenerational work with adults with its Cocktails In Care Homes programme [5].  In Waltham Forest, George Mason Lodge in Leytonstone has been hosting parties since 2013.  Working age Londoners come each month to the home to party with residents from 6-7.30pm.  Volunteer party-managers decorate the space in which the party is held, using curated decorative themes to transform the care home space into a new ‘party’ space where everyone is equal.  The introduction of the ‘outside’ in the form of the guests makes the parties special for the residents, but the volunteers themselves get as much out of it as the older people.

“This one evening a month is a chance for me to put things in perspective and learn from people older and wiser than me, with lives as rich as you can imagine. If I’ve had a stressful day at work, or I’m feeling a bit low, the experience always brings me into the present, allows me to reflect and realise the things I often take for granted”

Zosia, volunteer party manager

In the Royal Society of Public Health report ‘That Age Old Question’ [6] the authors outline the importance of intergenerational connection in combatting negative stereotypes which can have as much of an affect on the young as the old:

“There is now an emerging and convincing evidence base speaking to the positive power of intergenerational contact. A 2017 review of 31 intergenerational contact programmes and 48 studies found that intergenerational contact successfully reduces ageism towards older adults, an effect which is consistently underlined in the European Social Survey data”

The Baring Foundation report ‘Dutch Old Masters – and Mistresses: Creative Ageing in the Netherlands’ [7] gives several examples of arts festivals taking place inside care homes themselves.  Citing the ‘Large Type Festival (Groot Letter Festival)’ which sees famous writers spending the day at a care home, performing in the same way as at any top literary festival.  The report says there is ‘no obvious equivalent as yet in the UK’.  The Inside Out Festival may provide a first step!

Magic Me pioneered the Artist Residencies in Care Homes in 2015-17 [8] with Punchdrunk, Upswing, Duckie and Lois Weaver taking on residencies in four care homes in London.  For Magic Me this project was a continuation of their belief that life doesn’t stop when you take up residence in a care setting – you are just as in need of rich cultural stimulation as you were the week before when you were living in your own home.  For the creative organisations and artists involved the experience was inspiring and eye-opening leading to an increased understanding of the exciting challenge of working with this particular group of people as both audience and co-creator.

“I feel inspired and intrigued in the possibilities of using creativity as a way to connect with people that might bypass memory. Connection in the here and now”

Duckie artist.

Magic Me has used this energy and inspiration in the thinking behind the Inside Out Festival.  Kate Hodson, programme director says:

“I think when people go into a care setting and witness the incredible vitality and creativity that can emerge from people of different ages working together, when they see the possibilities of imaginations that have been matured over many decades coming together with the energy and aspiration of younger creative people they will be absolutely blown away!”

The project will be led by professional artists Sue Mayo, Ben Connors, Natalie Keymist and Hassan Vawda who will facilitate sessions and provide starting points for the work of the co-creators.

Magic Me is keen to hear from working age local people in Leyton and Leytonstone with an interest in creative making who would like to get involved in the project and partner with residents based in the care settings.

Magic Me is supported by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery to develop work in London’s outer eastern boroughs and the eastern counties of England. Inside Out is part of this work.


[1] Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019

Waltham Forest is the Mayor’s first London Borough of Culture. The award, the flagship programme in his culture strategy, was a major new initiative launched by Sadiq to put culture at the heart of London’s communities. More than 15,000 people backed Waltham Forest’s bid, which aims to inspire 85% of households to participate in the cultural year, engage every school in the area in arts and culture, and to attract over half a million new visitors to the borough.

The year will explore the themes ‘Radicals’, ‘Makers’ and ‘Fellowship’ in a collaboration between local residents, artists and creatives creating a once in a life time celebration of the place we call ‘home’.

Waltham Forest, London Borough of Culture 2019 will shine a light on the character, diversity and cultures of the borough, the things we have in common and the things that make us different, a year-long celebration of the real cultures of London by the people who live here.

Fellowship Funding – Make it Happen

Over £550,000 of Fellowship Funding was made available in 2019 as part of Waltham Forest’s London Borough of Culture year. This was allocated to support artists and organisations to create locally relevant, ambitious cultural activity right across the borough during 2019. This was an opportunity to help create a cultural programme for everyone in Waltham Forest to participate in and enjoy. Starting in September 2018, we opened applications for artists, organisations, communities, venues and everyone in between to submit their bid for Fellowship Funding grants.

Funding for London Borough of Culture

The two winning London Boroughs of Culture (2019 and 2020) will receive a guaranteed fund of £1.35 million. This comprises of £1.25m pledged by City Hall with additional support from the City Bridge Trust of £100,000. In addition, a total of £1,004,000 has been allocated to up to six additional boroughs for individual landmark projects – the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Award. This comprises £904,000 from City Hall and £100,000 from the City Bridge Trust. The winning boroughs will also be supported to bid for funds that have been agreed by external partners Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will work with the winning boroughs to help them secure further funding for bespoke cultural projects that will help bring real change to local boroughs. Boroughs are expected to provide at least 30% match funding (25% in cash, 5% in kind).

 [2] Inside Out Festival is part of Magic Me’s Quality Street programme bringing together generations in Waltham Forest.  The programme is funded by the L&Q Foundation.  Quality Street is a two year programme, the project began in Autumn 2018 and the first year of work culminates in the ‘Meet the Street’ event on 15 June which brings together three intergenerational project groups along with pupils from George Mitchell Primary School, friends, family and neighbours.  Inside Out Festival will be part of the second year of the project starting in Autumn 2019.  More information on Quality Street can be found here


[3] A small selection of reports on the benefits of intergenerational connection:

APPG Social Integration report ‘Healing the Generational Divide’

Age UK report “Making Integenerational Connections and Evidence Review”

[4] A small selection of reports on the benefits of participatory arts

Baring Foundation report “An evidence review of the impact of participatory arts on older people”

APPG on Arts, Health and Wellbeing 2017 report “Creative Health: the arts for health and wellbeing”

[5] Cocktails in Care Homes

In 2010 we had been working in care settings with intergenerational groups for over 20 years when some comments from participants about how there was nothing to do in the evenings, sparked a bright new idea.  That year our first Cocktails in Care Homes parties were piloted. Now, 9 years later we have 15 parties across London with more in the pipeline.  The project continues to capture the imagination of a wide range of people and interest in taking part remains high, over 400 inducted volunteers actively participate, with hundreds more inducted or waiting to be inducted. Full information can be found here

[6] Royal Society for Public Health report ‘That Age Old Question’

In 2018 the RSPH published a report examining how attitudes to ageing can affect our health and wellbeing.  The findings of the report That Age Old Question revealed that ageist views are held across the generations, and that an ageing society is viewed by many as a challenge rather than an opportunity. The report makes a number of recommendations aimed at addressing some of the key drivers and negative consequences of societal ageism.

[7] Baring Foundation report from 2017Dutch old masters – and mistresses: creative ageing in the Netherlands” by David Cutler. An overview of participatory arts for older people in the Netherlands, with inspiring examples from across art forms.

[8] Artists Residencies in Care Homes

During 2015-17 Magic Me ran a two year programme of Artists’ residencies iun care homes, in partnership with Anchor, England’s largest not for profit care home provider and four arts partners, all leaders in their field: Punchdrunk Enrichment, Lois Weaver, Upswing and Duckie.  The project aimed to show that artists can create excellent work with older people in a care home environment, bringing multiple benefits to residents and to the wider care home community and to develop new tools and techniques to support artists in such activity and to open the door on new possibilities for care homes, as places where inspiring and important art is created.

A full report on the project can be found here


Magic Me is the UK’s leading intergenerational arts charity.  In their Arts & Ages programme they bring together primary school children with older people living in care settings and the community to work with professional artists on creative projects.

Their ground-breaking Cocktails In Care Homes programme tackles loneliness in older people living in care homes. Once a month volunteers help host cocktail parties in 15 care homes across London involving 400+ volunteers with 400+ residents.

Other projects for 2018/19 include Quality Street a project bringing 3 generations together in Waltham Forest, funded by the L&Q Foundation, and ‘In My Name’ a women’s project involving pupils from Mulberry School for Girls and older women from the East London community.


Magic Me is a registered charity no. 328331

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