03 Feb 2020
Celebrating the contribution of Kaumātua (including those with dementia) in the arts is the focus of Toi Ako, a three-part project by Connect the Dots recently funded by Creative New Zealand via our Arts Grants programme.
“Toi Ako brings together, promotes and celebrates kaumātua and the arts. It provides an opportunity for improved wellbeing, both on an individual and community level, but also gives a voice and a presence for kaumātua” said Creative New Zealand’s Community and Youth Arts Practice Director, Briar Monro.
Part I of Toi Ako is a mentoring programme, which sees 14 Kaumātua partnered with six practising artists for ten workshops. The Kaumātua, many of whom are living with dementia, are working with their Artist Mentor to explore and develop their own visual language and to create works for a group exhibition.
Part II sees the Kaumātua’s works travel to cities around Aotearoa in a touring exhibition, alongside works by their Artist Mentors. The exhibition will also have an accompanying public programme, Make Moments, a series of art workshops and discussion tours that bring Kaumātua and people living with dementia into gallery spaces.
Part III will begin the exploration for the provision of a Make Moments programme in each town to support local artists and galleries to engage the participation of older people in the arts and cultural opportunities in their communities.
New Zealand’s ageing population has increased the need for support and information in this area. In 2018 Creative New Zealand funded research by Susan Jordan on creative ageing and last year facilitated a hui with approximately 30 artists, arts organisation and stakeholders to discuss this practice area.
“The hui raised a range of challenges for this area of practice, such as the lack awareness of the benefit arts participation, limited appropriate infrastructure and resources to support creative aging and a need for specialised training for artists when working with the elderly. But it also highlighted some of the opportunities available and an increased recognition of the role arts can play in the health and wellbeing of communities.” Said Monro.
Other creative ageing projects recently supported by Creative New Zealand’s Arts Grants and Creative Communities Scheme include - contemporary dancer and choreographer Lucy Marinkovich to develop a programme for people with Parkinson’s Disease; Susan Jordan to develop ASPiRE, a dance production exploring the concept of creative ageing, and featuring senior community dancers; and the Seasoned Dance Symposium which will celebrate the mature dancer in Easter 2020 in Christchurch.