Promoting wellbeing through the arts

The six Bluecoat artists involved in the “Where the art belongs’ project

Where the Arts Belong is a unique three-year research project, conducted by pioneering care village operator, Belong, and Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat, to effectively embed the arts into new care environments and improve the lives of those with dementia.

The first phase of the project has seen six critically acclaimed artists take up pilot residencies at Belong Crewe to engage customers, staff and members of the wider community in an array of creative workshops, ranging from storytelling and sculpture to music and dance. Completing at the end of June, the residency scheme proved a huge success at the village, with reports that residents are happier and more engaged as a result.  

The next stage of the project will involve a series of workshops at the Atkinson in Southport, which will take place from October. 

Belong and Bluecoat’s collective aim is to identify and put in place the conditions that best support resonant and meaningful arts engagements of older people in the care village context, in particular those on a dementia journey.

This research will inform practice at Belong’s upcoming state-of-the-art villages in Birkdale and Chester, due to open early 2020, and they will be the first Belong villages to have permanent staff trained in specialist arts provision.

Importantly, the project seeks to contribute to best practice in the care sector and the resulting creative and learning outcomes will be shared with a range of external stakeholders and audiences. The work produced will be exhibited at the Atkinson and the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, running for six to eight weeks at each venue, alongside a number of workshops and symposia events.

Belong is a values-based organisation, founded on our vision that older people have the right to enjoy the same community belonging and richness of experience that they have always known. We take our lead from our customers, and seek constant feedback on what we can do better.

Our ambition is to offer a radically different alternative to the host of existing care settings. We were one of the early pioneers of the ‘household’ model for people with dementia and our drive for innovation and excellence has earned us recognition and accolades in the industry, but most importantly from our customers.

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Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. The landmark building is home to a year-round programme of exhibitions, music, dance, literature, live art and heritage events.

Bluecoat also provides a base for around thirty artists, collectives, small arts organisations and craftspeople, and receives around 700,000 public visits annually. We seek to create exceptional arts experiences, engaging the broadest possible audience with exciting contemporary work and the creators behind it in ways that allow the public’s enjoyment of the building to blend seamlessly with the arts, heritage, retail and hospitality on offer.

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Where the Arts Belong is part of Arts Council England’s initiative, Celebrating Age.

The Celebrating Age programme, which is jointly funded by Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation  supports cultural spaces and other organisations working collaboratively to engage and celebrate older people in the arts.

The project is also funded by Belong and is supported by partners, Liverpool John Moores University (Centre for Collaborative Innovation in Dementia), The Atkinson  and West Cheshire Museums.