Speakers at Don't Look Back seminar in Edinburgh (l-r: Ingrid Smit, Sylvia Dow, Anne Gallacher, Janine Husch)

People from across Europe came together last week in Edinburgh to share thoughts and ideas on creativity in an ageing population. The programme of events was organised by Amateo in partnership with Voluntary Arts and Luminate, with support from Creative Scotland as well as Creative Europe. The week included creative workshops for older people from across Europe and a seminar for those working on developing creative projects with the annual Epic Awards ceremony organised by Voluntary Arts bringing an inspiring few days to a close.


Opening Reception

Amateo and our partners were honoured to be guests at the beautiful Institut Français d’Ecosse on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Guests were welcomed by the Deputy French Consul, Marie Vassallo; Amateo President, Susan Fazakerley; Bailie Lezley Marion Cameron of Edinburgh City Council; Luminate Director, Anne Gallacher and Amateo’s Arts Take Part coordinator, Jim Tough. As well as being treated to some fine Scottish produce throughout the evening, the guests were then treated to a performance by Edinburgh-based choir Forget Me Notes.


CONNECT+

Participants were invited from many European countries to come together, exchange ideas and build new relationships. One strand of the programme brought together those working in the field and amateur and participatory arts with an interest in engaging older people in creative activities. There were exercises to get to know each other and even some speed-dating sessions! There were also presentations from funding bodies, including Creative Europe, to inform people of the opportunities available to support international collaboration. Staff from organisations across Europe discussed potential new projects and collaborations which we hope to see realised in the very near future.

In the Creative Workshops programme, a group of 12 older people from Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Czech Republic and Scotland came together with artists Janice Parker and Luke Pell and film maker Tao-Anas Le Thanh to explore the Don’t Look Back theme through movement and words. The process resulted in a remarkable filmed exploration on the theme. This was a powerful process of sharing, learning, reflection, and cooperation amongst this group from across Europe that will live long in the hearts and minds of those involved.


Seminar: Don’t Look Back

Taking inspiration from Bob Dylan and challenging the preconception that almost all creative work with older people needs to be about reminiscence, this one-day seminar at the University of Edinburgh’s InSpace sought to recognise that we all have a creative future. Each of the speakers gave a short presentation which led to a provocation to be discussed and debated by the participants. The event was chaired by playwright Sylvia Dow.

Throughout the day, we heard from Ingrid Smit (LKCA, Netherlands) about the Lang Leve Kunst project (Long Live Art), Janine Husch (Kubia, Germany) about the work the organisation delivers and the challenges they face in reaching a diverse range of participants, and Anne Gallacher (Luminate, Scotland) about partnership working to improve creative opportunities for older people in Scotland.


Epic Awards ceremony

The annual Epic Awards celebrate the achievements of voluntary-led creative groups and projects across the UK and Ireland. This year’s awards ceremony was held in Edinburgh to close our week of events in Scotland’s capital city. Awards were presented to winners for Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales as well as the Peer Award (voted for by the nominated groups), the People’s Choice Award (voted for by thousands of members of the public) and the Celebrating Diversity Award which this year went to Kirrie Connections, a community dementia support hub in the rural Scottish town of Kirriemuir.

The evening was hosted by BBC Scotland’s Janice Forsyth and included an opening speech by Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development in the Scottish Government. The ceremony was opened with a performance from Scotland award runners-up, 24 Carat Gold, a dance group of women aged 60 – 87 years old, while the closing performance by Scotland award winners, Musicians in Exile, had the audience up dancing in Edinburgh’s Central Hall.

It was a really enjoyable and very moving finale to a week of connection, collaboration and inspiration in Edinburgh. We’re now looking forward to upcoming Amateo events during 2020. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive invitations.