ExPLORATiONS iN PARTiciPATiON

WE LEARNT FROM ONE “ E LEARNT FROM ONE W ANOTHER AND ANOTHER AND THAT THAT OPENED OPENED DOORS.” DOORS’

Artlink Edinburgh & the Lothians 2010/2011

INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

ArtlinkwassupportedbyCreativeScotland during2010/11toexploreexperiencesofolder peopleintheartsandcreatenewopportunities formeaningfulparticipation.Thisworkwas commissionedinthecontextofanageing populationandtheneedtothinkpositivelyabout newrolesforolderpeopleandthecontributions thatcanbemadetosociety. To explore this further Artlink supported three action research projects with older people with additional support needs. • A dramaproject with people with hearing loss providing opportunities to share experiences. • A galleryproject with visually impaired participants which creatively describes the gallery space rather then the exhibits. • A musicproject with people with dementia developing shared activity that the group could benefit from beyond the length of the project.

The projects investigated older people’s experiences of the arts and explored practical means to overcome barriers to participation informed by their experiences and ideas. in response to the wider context of the work, we have considered the benefits of exploring older people’s input and ideas for artists, support workers and partner organisations. Underpinning all of the work is the belief that regardless of a person’s age or support need, there is always more to experience and more to share. The involvement of older people has been central to the projects at all stages. in setting up, developing and evaluating the projects we interviewed participants, support workers and artists, and tried to understand what has been beneficial about the projects from these different perspectives. it is these words that are used here, along with accounts of the projects by author Morven crumlish. Shared in this way, the report does not present conclusions but we hope will support ongoing discussions.

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E S S AY  b y  M O R V E N  C R U M L I S H

“ TAKES A DEEP iT BREATH TO TRY SOMETHiNG NEW.”

Eachgroupbeganwithopenness,andaflexibility regardingtheoutcomeoftheproject.Itwas importantthateverybodyremainedopenminded abouttheformthefinalworkwouldtake,so thattheparticipationofthegroupremained constructive,ratherthanjustpayinglipservice totheideaofconsultation. For the participants, this meant that they were able to see their ideas and contributions take form; they were valued and listened to throughout the process. For the artists it meant working in sometimes surprising and unexpected ways, and discovering insights into their own practice. The benefits of working in this way shifted between those involved in each project, with learning, listening and decision making being a thoroughly two way process. A variety of art forms, a number of artists, a range of access requirements – these projects can be collated by the importance shown to listening to participants, and tailoring the artists’ approach to the work to suit the needs, tastes, and individualism of the people whose involvement makes each venture unique.
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DRAMA
DRAMA

“ OPENS YOU UP iT TO ExPRESS THiNGS YOU WOULDN’T.”

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DRAMA

DRAMA to “ It is partly to do with not wantingYou showhave the yourself as having vulnerability. can

Thedramagroupwasmade upofpeoplewithhearingloss. Duringaconsultationday,some peoplehadexpressedfeelings ofvulnerabilityandisolationasa resultofhearingloss. The group was supported by a Notetaker, and a hearing loop system – simple, practical solutions which meant that communication barriers were immediately reduced. Many of the people in the group were nervous about taking part – along with concerns about being able to communicate with each other, there were preconceptions about what it meant to be involved in drama. Just coming along to the group was a daunting prospect. Jenna’s workshops were structured to provide continuity and repetition,
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which, along with the communication support, helped the group to feel at ease. Because hearing loss was a shared concern for everyone in the group, they were able to collaborate to find successful ways of working, for example, when groupwork meant that the notetaker’s support was not possible. Working with a performance artist, the group produced tableau style photographs describing some of the unique situations and difficulties that hard of hearing people encounter in trying to access mainstream arts venues. Sharing, and dramatising, similar experiences was a cathartic and confidence building process.

image of being confident and quite together, but you know you are missing a whole lot and putting yourself in embarrassing positions because you mishear.

PARTICIPANT

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DRAMA

unique opportunities of “ One of the with peers with hearing this group is working loss and we

have helped each other contribute. We have had to work out strategies to make sure everyone is managing.

PARTICIPANT

of drama workshops “ The value own experiences and is being able to take your work through

them at one stage removed. It opens you up to express things you wouldn’t. I would think every one of us has felt upset because of the barrier of hearing loss – inevitably that can come out and sometimes really surprises you – it seems fun, then something hits you.

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DRAMA

was about “ Because it during the interaction, adaptations took place performance. I mingled

a bit before the performance, which is very different to the way I would usually present work. I know it’s scary for people who are walking into a one to one interactive performance piece, to know what the rules are and how to behave. I sat close to one woman so she could lip read me while I spoke the instructions to her; I made the piece accessible to an individual, rather than for a group of people who are hard of hearing.

ARTIST

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DRAMA GALLERY

“ OU HAVE AN iDEA, Y THEN iT WOULD BE MODELLED TO TAKE SHAPE.”

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GALLERY

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GALLERY

GALLERY
Theprojectthatbecame Pandora’sLightBoxbeganwitha groupofvisuallyimpairedpeople workingwithpoetKenCockburn todevelopapoemwhichwould describetheTalbotRiceGallery. A series of workshops delved into physical and sensory descriptions of the gallery, as well as its history, and the many associations which these triggered. The name of the poem was suggested by a member of the group, following a word association exercise which explored the space of the gallery. Many of the images and descriptions in the poem came from the ideas and conversations shared within the group. Discussions had a freedom and scope due to participants feeling comfortable and confident in the group and trusting that their ideas would be listened to and acted on.
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to come and make “ We were invitedsomethingalong would be ina contribution to that
Once the poem had been written, it was recorded, and the decision was made that it would be placed in the gallery space as an audio installation. ceramic artist Frances Priest was brought in to make the earpieces, or listening devices, which would house the speakers. After initial consultation sessions, the final format, of hand held earpieces rather like old fashioned telephones, was agreed on. Settling on the best form for the listening devices was a collaborative process, in which the artist found her initial inclination to pieces whose shape and texture reflected the physical gallery space was put aside, in favour of the practicalities and simplicity of the final design. This project was constantly shaped and carried forward by the ideas and input of the group, whose contribution has resulted in a distinctive piece of collaborative art.

the gallery. Artists were commissioned to amalgamate the ideas. For me it’s very important to have the chance to participate in a contributing way and that people will listen.

PARTICIPANT

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lot from participants, the central “ Iindrew aRound Room] section all came outideas [the of the conversations in workshops. The Round Room is about our experiences of the room, and then extending them or finding a form.

the that “ It wasgot alisteningof. Wewas afforded everyone that I lot out had to listen to one

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another, we learned from one another, and that opened doors. It was being involved. You have an idea, then it would be modelled to take shape. The ideas reflect all of us.

PARTICIPANT

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GALLERY

interesting the difference response, “ What’swhere I learnisand everyone ininthe group that’s learns from it. ”
POET

of the things that has come out of the project “ Oneme is how much more I’ve started to look for at things because I’ve had to describe them. I feel through this project I’ve learned to look at things.

came approach to “ Imy ownon board with anideas were relatingout of practice; those blown the water in the second consultation process. In many ways I’m surprised about what’s been made, that’s really exciting for me.

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MUSic

“ cLANG iNSTEAD A OF DRAMA A BANG!”

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MUSic

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MUSIC

“ In so manyaareas of –life people with dementia don’t have choice in the workshops there
benefited by learning from each other and the artist. By sharing the experience of music, barriers and frustrations were reduced, and the group built and recognised new relationships. individual histories and personalities were re-established by the associations and recollections triggered by different pieces of music. The contributions and preferences of the group influenced the final outcome: a music box, housed in the shell of an old fashioned gramophone, along with a selection of music. While the recognisable appearance of the music box was important, emphasis was placed on the sound quality of the final object. The musical selections were chosen with consideration for the tastes of the group, and recognising the success of the format of the workshops.

WhenArtlinkapproachedthe dementiadaycareservice, therewasaninclinationtowards amusicgroup;however,many ofthemembersofthegroup enjoyedcraftactivities.Itwas decidedthatbothoftheseroutes shouldbeexplored. After taster sessions in both crafts and music, it was agreed that music had a more inclusive appeal. The music groups were simply structured: different musical pieces were introduced, and then played. Participation was varied – some people sang, danced, or joined in with instruments; others took part simply by sitting and listening. Musical talents and knowledge were discovered and shared among the group, support staff and participants
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is an open atmosphere, there is choice. People with dementia get a huge amount from being in the moment. They may not have short term recollection but if they enjoy something a feeling of wellbeing will stay with them.

SUPPORTWORKER

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MUSIC

MUSIC

sitting with eyes “ With music you can beSome people yourhum shut, still taking part. will

along, tap their feet – lots of people have been dancing.

love feeling low “ Imusicmusic. IIdo. When I’mabout it and Iifplay slowly, like to think you close your eyes you can float away. ” “ Music is feeling yourself. You’re letting yourself go and enjoying it. ”
PARTICIPANT PARTICIPANT

The artist always introduced the music – sometimes people would recognise the title, sometimes the composer, there were different routes in which was important. It’s a safe space – if someone did a clang instead of a bang it didn’t matter.

“ The whole project has been about creating something that they will have to keep. It’s ”

SUPPORTWORKER

been getting to know the group and the staff, and building up relationships, which wasn’t something I had thought about at the start. It’s not for them, or me, or staff; it’s for everyone. We all benefit, really.
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ARTIST

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MUSIC

PA R T I C I PA N T S

5 consultations 30 workshops 1 training session 2 public events 38sessions

41 participants 286 attendances 14 participants 60 attendances 401attendances

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LOOKINGFORWARD

PA R T N E R S

Inthisreportwehavepresented perspectivesnotconclusions. Eachprojectsuggestsfurther possibilities,raisesnewquestions whichwearecontinuingto explore.Wehavenotsolveda setofproblemsbutdeveloped insightsandideasthatare informingnewareasofwork. From the projects detailed here we learnt that as artists engage with older people with different support needs, new creative possibilities, not problems arise. By focusing on unexpected and high quality experiences, we can present responses which have a wide interest. This learning is now informing our approach to a writing project presenting the experiences of hard of hearing theatre goers and a walking
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tour informed by visually impaired participants. We are developing projects which arise from specific experiences but which look outward and connect with people in positive ways. There are personal benefits to being listened to, but within a supportive environment we should challenge all involved and expect to be challenged. Artlink looks forward to the new opportunities that the current work will undoubtedly present.

ORGANISATIONS Edinburgh University Eric Liddell Day care Services Festival Theatre Hearing concern Link Scottish Poetry Library Talbot Rice Gallery ARTISTS Ken cockburn Morven crumlish Lauren Hayes Jung in Jung Lorna irvine Martin Parker Frances Priest Laura Spring David Stinton Andrea Walsh Jenna Watt Ronnie Watt

STAFF Jan-Bert van den Berg Director Anna chapman Programme Support Worker Morven crumlish Arts Access Assistant Susan Humble Audience Development Officer Sally Primrose Arts Access co-ordinator Nicky Regan Designer FUNDERS creative Scotland South central Neighbourhood Partnership

FINDOUTMORE if you would like to find out more about Artlink or you are interested in volunteering please feel free to contact us by either telephone, e-mail or in writing. This publication is available in PDF, Braille, audio cD and large print formats, please contact Artlink for your copy.

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Artlink Edinburgh & the Lothians 13a Spittal Street Edinburgh EH3 9DY Telephone:0131 229 3555 E-mail: info@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk Website:www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk SocialMedia:www.facebook.com/ArtlinkEdinburgh Artlink is a company registered in Scotland No. 87845 with charitable status, Scottish charity No. Sc006845