In early 2017 Wiltshire Music Centre was awarded £99,931 by Arts Council England to deliver a wonderful project called Celebrating Age in Wiltshire. Over the next 3 years the Centre will be a lead partner in delivering arts events in community settings across the county for elderly people unable to access concert halls or theatres.

Rebecca Seymour is our new Project Coordinator for Celebrating Age, delivering events in Salisbury, Calne, Corsham, Amesbury, Wootton Bassett and Trowbridge in partnership with other arts and community organisations including The Pound in Corsham and Age UK. Here she tells us a little bit more about the project:

"Wiltshire will be Celebrating Age over the next three years, due to the Wiltshire Cultural Partnership being awarded a substantial grant from Arts Council England and financial support from six of Wiltshire Council’s Area Boards.

This three-year project will offer high-quality arts activity to the most isolated and vulnerable older people in our community. As Project Development Worker, I ensure that the arts activity reaches those who most need it.

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been meeting with many of the people who run the network of older people’s services across Wiltshire; from the health and well-being groups to those managing sheltered housing schemes and care coordinators from GP surgeries.  Everyone I meet is excited about Celebrating Age, telling me how much stimulating and creative activities are needed for the well-being of older people and how they hope that the project will support many isolated people to begin to reconnect with their local communities.

It is important to deliver the right creative and artistic programme and this is why the project is being devised with a ‘bottom up’ approach, finding out from the people themselves what they would like from such a programme.  We don’t want to put on events that older people aren’t interested in, because they just won’t come!  So the events that happen right from the start of the programme will be planned in consultation with older people’s representatives and the people themselves who are going to benefit.  

These events will take place in small local venues, such as a communal lounge in sheltered housing, so that participants only need to venture a few metres out of their own homes to engage (a massive step for some). Hopefully after several ‘doorstep’ events, we can encourage people to travel to their local community hubs, village halls and libraries. 

There is evidence to show that one high-quality arts event can have a significant impact on a person’s well-being for some time afterwards. If people can share that event with others living nearby, it is hoped that they will then talk about it with their neighbours in the days following, to hold onto that well-being feeling for even longer.

You’re never too old to try something new, and making the ‘new’ accessible makes the trying it become a reality.  Through Celebrating Age, we are aiming to make ‘the new’ in vulnerable, isolated older people’s lives something to celebrate."

Rebecca Seymour