Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat, is teaming up with Belong Crewe care village to reignite the creativity of older people and those living with dementia.

The ‘We Belong Together’ project involves the care village teaming up with critically acclaimed artists to explore the wellbeing benefits of using the arts at home through a series of workshops.

Artists will be leading regular virtual art sessions for small cohorts of apartment tenants living in Belong’s state-of-the-art care villages across the North West.

The project also hopes to help tackle lockdown isolation by providing a vehicle for wellbeing and social interactions within the tenants’ support bubbles.

Focusing on sound, artist Alan Dunn will exercise the brain and ear muscles of participants to unlock the hidden narratives from noises derived from everyday life.

Once a variety of sounds have been explored, including those made by bubbles, tongue twisters and even from elastic bands, the sessions will culminate in the creation of a 30-minute ‘live’ concert.

Meanwhile, sculptor Brigitte Jurack delves into the creative use of clay and ceramics. Belong tenants will be encouraged to gently improve dexterity by using their finger and arm muscles to roll, push, pinch and pull clay in the making of tablets pots, plates and animals.

Speaking of her first sounds workshop, Mary Britcliffe, apartment tenant at Belong Crewe, said: “It’s great to be involved in the project; it’s given me something new to look forward to each week. I’m definitely having lots of fun and I’m really enjoying the tongue twisters!”

Betty Ritchie, Participation Manager at Bluecoat and coordinator for the project, also spoke of the unique arrangement: “We Belong Together has got off to a great start; participants are reporting how much they enjoy interacting with the artists and each other, discovering new things and how much they look forward to seeing their work brought to life – it’s all very positive.”

The We Belong Together project is funded by Arts Council England through the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and is the latest collaboration between Belong and Bluecoat.

The organisations have worked together since 2019 as part of ‘Where the Arts Belong’, a wider three-year research partnership, which has already demonstrated a range of positive outcomes in engaging people with dementia through the arts, including enhanced cognitive capacity, improved mood and an increased sense of community.

Tracy Paine, deputy chief executive at Belong added: “Isolation has been a huge challenge for everyone over the past year and we’re excited to be extending our collaboration with Bluecoat to be able to connect tenants of our independent living apartments through the arts.

”We’ve already seen significant wellbeing benefits following projects working with household residents in our 24-hour care settings, as well as home care customers in the wider community, so this is a very welcome extension to the arts initiatives we are able to offer.”

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, located in the heart of the city.

They develop a diverse programme of exhibitions showing national and international artists, as well as home grown talent.

Bluecoat deliver performance, literature, and heritage events, and are committed to finding new ways to open the arts to everyone.

Based in Liverpool’s most historic building, they are a creative hub and home to around thirty artists, arts organisations, craftspeople and retailers.

 

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