Arts & Ages is Magic Me’s ambitious, three-year programme, nurturing partnerships between primary schools and groups of older people in Tower Hamlets through the arts.
Older Person, Extra Care Scheme
This came at the perfect time. I had just moved in and felt unsettled. This has helped me feel settled. You have fun when you’re here with the kids, but then it enthuses your whole day.
Older Person, Extra Care Scheme
Between 2019 – 2021, Magic Me supported primary schools and older people’s venues to establish long-lasting relationships and gain the practical understanding and skills to develop ongoing intergenerational connections.
By providing expertise, artist support and high quality arts provision, Magic Me helped partners find ways to connect and collaborate for the mutual benefit of children and older people. Younger and older people came together to create artworks that reflected what they have to say, and challenge perceptions of who they are, becoming active citizens in their communities.
By connecting individuals and organisations, Arts & Ages fostered greater understanding and forged links across communities.
Our key aims for Arts & Ages were:
- To support younger & older people to become active in their community, building skills and confidence.
- To reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness among older people, increasing wellbeing.
- To build long lasting relationships between schools and older people’s venues.
Aims for Partners:
- Help schools and older people’s venues to connect with their local communities.
- Connect the partner staff to artists to enhance their professional development with increased knowledge of creative facilitation
- Inspiring partner staff to extend their own activities and be more ambitious in the type of work they do with younger and older people and intergenerational groups.
Aims for Older and Younger Participants:
- Support younger and older people to build positive relationships with their local communities.
- Build younger people’s communication skills and challenge age-related stereotypes or misconceptions, through creative activities.
- Give younger and older people opportunities to perform or present their creative work and ideas to their local community, building their confidence and self-esteem.
- Connect younger and older people to professional artists and develop a better understanding of arts projects and careers.
- Help combat loneliness, and give an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, generally enhancing wellbeing, through being an active participant in their community.
In Tower Hamlets 1 in 4 younger people and 1 in 2 older people live in income deprivation. This impacts their lives in many ways including increasing feelings of loneliness. High property prices force younger generations to move away and different age groups and communities can find themselves living parallel lives, rarely interacting.
Arts & Ages brought these groups together creating stronger relationships and stronger communities.
Intergenerational arts improve wellbeing, social interactions, communication and collaboration skills and creative thinking. Through benefitting children and older people, Arts & Ages contributed to wider agendas, complementing and enriching curriculums and activity programmes.
Benefits for Primary Schools & Younger Participants
- Children have increased wellbeing and develop social and communication skills
- Children meet groups of older people they wouldn’t usually encounter
- Children present creative work and ideas, sharing their talents and building confidence and self-esteem
- Children work with professional artists, developing creative skills and an understanding of creative careers
- Staff gain understanding and confidence in intergenerational work, and the skills and knowledge needed to welcome groups of older people into the school
- Staff access professional development opportunities through working with Magic Me staff and artists
Benefits for Older People’s Venues & Older Participants
- Older people have increased wellbeing and feel engaged with the local community, combatting loneliness and social isolation
- Older people connect with other adults in their accommodation or venue
- Older people present creative work and ideas, sharing their talents and building confidence and self-esteem
- Managers and Activities Coordinators gain an understanding of intergenerational work, the skills needed to welcome groups of children into their venue and confidence to build intergenerational activities into their programmes
- New people are invited into care homes, extra care schemes and sheltered housing, “bringing motivation, energy and life” (Extra Care Scheme Manager)
Benefits for Everyone
- Talking and creating with a different generation challenges ageist attitudes and misconceptions
- Anyone, from 8 to 88+, can learn skills and experience something new
- People have fun!
ORIGINAL PROJECT TIMELINE
Magic Me staff and artists took the lead in creating the relationship between schools and their local partner organisations for older people through the delivery of a high quality arts project led by Artists over one term.
With the relationship established, partners take on more responsibility for setting up the year’s activities but Magic Me are still on hand to facilitate and support. Partners choose how their intergenerational relationship develops, with Magic Me helping to develop ideas and artists delivering shorter projects, designed in collaboration with partners.
The partners confidently lead on an intergenerational activity or event, led by ideas that have come from younger and older people along the way, and Magic Me continues to support them. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic 2020, the final phase of Arts & Ages was redesigned. See Arts & Ages Final Phase 2021 for full details.
Over three years Arts & Ages has been funded by: Aldgate & Allhallows Foundation, Allen and Overy, Lucas Tooth Trust, The Haberdashers’ Benevolent Foundation, The Ironmongers’ Foundation, The Worshipful Company of Mercers, London Borough of Tower Hamlets MSG Health and Wellbeing, Gateway Housing Association, Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the 72 people who donated to the Big Give 2019 Christmas Challenge
Featured images by Holly Falconer and Samia Meah