Beside the seaside….

Last week, HOP took a trip to Brighton (sadly cold and windy) to find out more about their arts offer for older people, as part of an enquiry visit organised by the UK Network of Age-Friendly Cities, and funded by the Baring Foundation as part of its commitment to developing high quality arts programmes for older people. 

The visit involved meeting with arts leaders from the Council and organisations across the city, and holding a series of in-depth conversations. Each conversation began with a case study highlighting a different aspect of Brighton’s approach to provision of arts and heritage activities for older people. 

I sat in on two conversations. The first looked at how Brighton Museums are developing new approaches to using their collections to enhance the lives of people with dementia. Moving away from the traditional ‘reminiscence box’ model, they are instead using images from their collections as source material for creative activities led by artists. 

The second featured the work of Theatre Royal Brighton, who have developed a ‘matinee club’ for audiences who may not want to travel out at night to see a show, and which includes added extras such as refreshments, behind the scenes tours and actor talks. We explored how the matinee audience could become a focus group for the theatre, or link up with other community theatre projects. 

At the end of the day, the team of visitors provided feedback to our Brighton hosts about where we felt their practice was strong, and how we felt they could improve. One of our main suggestions was that the city would benefit from a forum in which education and outreach staff could get together and swap ideas and information, as they weren’t always aware of each other’s efforts. So it looks like the HOP Network is thinking along the right lines in Liverpool…..