New research has been published by voluntary sector funding body the Baring Foundation that examines the importance of working with elderly people, particularly in relation to artists’ practices.

After You Are Two: exemplary practice in participatory arts with older people, is a personal reflection by arts adviser Kate Organ on her visits to a range of participatory arts projects funded by the foundation. The report draws on 25 examples of arts organisations’ practices from across the UK.

“The aim of the research was to expand knowledge, debate and awareness of the many ways in which the arts contribute to a society with an ageing population,” explains Organ. “Art is a vital agent to public discourse and the voices and imagination of older generations have a vital part to play in shaping understanding and decision making in the public realm.”

Key themes examined in the report are:
– The processes involved in negotiating power, choice, control and leadership in the collaborations between artists and participants.
– The value of work that seeks to integrate all ages and avoid the exclusion and segregation of older generations.
– The role of reminiscence in artwork.
– The relationship of process and product.

The research, believes Organ, illustrates that there is still huge value in placing the means of expression in the hands of those least listened to. She comments: “Much of the creative work that is gathering across this country and elsewhere is set to make an increasingly important contribution towards a shift in our society’s thinking towards art and vitality for all of us – no matter what our age or stage in life.”

Download a copy of After You Are Two here.