Magic Me’s mission is to bring people of different generations together, to learn from and about one another, through arts and creative activity. The challenge of coronavirus makes this mission more vital than ever as we are encouraged, and told, to self-isolate and stay at home.
In some ways Magic Me always chooses the simplest way of bringing people together: meeting face to face, in a hosted space, with exciting things to do together and refreshments to help people feel comfortable. We are now exploring and experimenting with how to meet and to make, at a distance. Once face to face is ruled out, how do we tune into one another and connect and create together?
One of our participants once said to me “There are lots of places for older people like me to go and have coffee and chat. I want more than that. What I love about Magic Me is that I come home with new ideas, with questions, and things to think about when I’m back home alone, things that keep me going for another week.”
Talking on the phone will be vital, but we want to offer more than that. One of the things we’re exploring is how we can create that inspiration, those questions and ideas from a distance – they are even more vital if that week is going to turn into a month, or months.
Although Magic Me’s usual workshops and projects are no longer possible we are directing our energies and thoughts, searching with participants, volunteers and partners, to find new ways of working. We are drawing on the framework of what is already in place and the talents of our artists and staff. We are also very grateful to funders who have already contacted us offering flexibility around grant agreements and how their funds are spent.
Magic Me’s Cocktails in Care Homes volunteers want to stay in touch with the older residents they know and are keen to find new ways to party – we’re exploring with them and our partner care homes how to party online, by phone, or by some means not yet explored!
Whilst schools do remain open our artists are continuing to work with school groups. In our Arts & Ages programme, artists Amanda Mascarenhas and Chuck Lowry are running a session with pupils from Osmani school today, to start character portraits which can be continued by their project partners, residents at Rochester Court. They’ll also be exchanging written messages related to the ‘Guess Who’ theme they’ve been working on together this term. As always at Magic Me, drawing and writing activities will be designed by artists so that both groups can contribute, and residents can work on these at home. Luckily this fits well with some of the ‘consequences’ style group activities they have already done together in sessions.
Working with different generations our approach draws on the digital and non-digital, the virtual and the tangible. Digital has many virtues – we can work from home, connect with colleagues, work collaboratively with other organisations and potentially deliver some of our work, but it is only part of the solution. And it won’t work for many of the people who will be most affected by social-distancing strategies and self-isolation. We are focussing as much of our effort into looking for easily delivered, tangible activities as we are digital possibilities.
This is not where any of us thought we would be at the beginning of 2020 – and some of those challenges we were focussed on – like climate change – haven’t gone away. Right now we are all having to adapt and be flexible, something that Magic Me does every day. We enter each project with a plan designed with participants and partners, but one that responds to the changing circumstances and imaginations of the group. We will continue to use these skills and this approach over the next days, weeks and months: solutions will be found, creativity will flourish, people will connect.
Susan Langford, Founder and Director of Magic Me
If you’d like to contact us you can still reach us by phone on 020 3222 6064 (leave a message and someone will call you back) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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