What’s Next? Arts and Ageing Workshops

What Next? Arts and Ageing Workshops and Clinics

How do arts organisations connect with older people? In 2019, the Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People initiative consisted of three residencies and engagement projects involving four artists hosted by three organisations: Cork Midsummer Festival with Marie Brett; MusicAlive with Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon; and SIRIUS with Colette Lewis. After two years, these partners are coming together to share their learnings through the ‘What Next? Arts and Ageing’ programme, which includes a Podcast series, workshops and clinics, and an e-publication.

The workshops and clinics offer an opportunity to discuss and reflect with artists, programmers, curators, and local authority arts officers regarding how to meaningfully engage with communities through the arts. They are aimed at staff members at arts organisations, artists and other creative professionals, community workers, health care professionals and policymakers.


Three workshops take place from 9–11 November, 10 am–noon each day, via Zoom, with facilitation by the journalist Ellie O’Byrne. All events are free but booking via SIRIUS’s Eventbrite page is required.


How Do We Embed the Arts in Community Settings?
9 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom

Kevin O’ Shanahan, Creative Director of MusicAlive, delivers a workshop with artists Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon. There is a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, the promotion of good health, and the management and treatment of illness across the life span. Together Kevin, Helga and Susan ask how one might embed arts in health care. The residencies in which Helga and Susan took part had many positive outcomes. They worked in Nazareth House nursing home in Mallow and Mayfield Men’s Shed. Meeting these groups as they are, in their own contexts, provided unique opportunities for collaboration. Kevin, Susan and Helga consider how their work was responsive to the participants.

Cultural Lore Case Study: People’s Thinking on Arts Engagement, Ageing and Impact
10 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom 

Kath Gorman, former Head of Participation and Engagement at Cork Midsummer Festival delivers a workshop with artist Marie Brett. They present and discuss the key findings and considerations of Marie’s 'Cultural Lore' residency with Cork Midsummer Festival, which included how arts programmes might be made accessible for and with older audiences. This used the model of a ‘creative enquiry’ based on building relationships through a more flexible developmental approach.

What Are the Ethics of Engaging with Older People?
11 November, 10 am–noon; Zoom

Miguel Amado, Director of SIRIUS, delivers a workshop with artist Colette Lewis. Colette explored ways of collaborating with older people that are accessible and innovative, considering the specificities of operating within a regional context. Rather than emphasising final outcomes, she initiated relationships for the future. Miguel and Colette discuss the role of the arts in society: How might an arts organisation maintain links with participants after a project is ‘complete’? They provide guidance on the ethical imperative that an arts organisation should have today, particularly when working with older people, and how that might contribute to discussions of wider societal matters.

This event is online via Zoom (link shared in the ticket order email confirmation).


Thirty clinics are also available to participants in the workshops. They take place from 9–11 November, 2–5pm each day; the duration of each session is 30 minutes. The schedule is s follows: 2–2.30pm, 2.40–3.10pm, 3.20–3.50pm, 4–4.30pm, 4.40–5.10pm. Participants should prepare a topic they would like to address.

Workshop participants will receive an email from SIRIUS to confirm which clinic sessions and times they are interested in, if any, and subsequently SIRIUS confirms the booking and shares the relevant Zoom links.

9 November: Helga Deasy and Susan McManamon, Kevin O’ Shanahan, Creative Director of MusicAlive

10 November: Marie Brett, Siobhán Clancy, Community Arts Coordinator, Cork City Council Arts Office

11 November: Colette Lewis, Miguel Amado, Director, SIRIUS