Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, and The Baring Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged groups, have today announced the five organisations that will receive a total of £406,231 in funding to develop new innovations to engage the over 65s in the creative arts.
The new Digital Arts & Creative Ageing fund, which launched in June 2016, will address widespread social isolation amongst the over 65s, improving health and wellbeing to help older people to live more autonomous and integrated lives. Research from Age UK has found that more than one million over 65s feel “always” or “very” lonely, which can have as damaging an impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Age UK, 2015)1.
The five projects were chosen for their imaginative application of digital technology and their ability to scale and extend existing creative arts initiatives to the over 65s. The successful projects are:
64 Million Artists: ‘Do, Think and Share’
Do, Think and Share is a collaboration between 64 Million Artists and Leicester Ageing Together. They aim to unlock human potential through a culture of creativity. The platform uses digital prompts and how-to videos to invite people to perform creative tasks they wouldn’t normally do, such as painting a self-portrait, then sharing what they’ve done and discussing the effect it had on their thoughts and feelings. The initiative takes place in small groups, which are facilitated digitally, so people can participate regardless of their physical ability.
Ashton Community Trust: ‘Digital Makers’
Digital Makers is a pioneering creative arts programme that gives older people in North Belfast the opportunity to make new friendships while trying out cutting-edge digital manufacturing equipment and learn new skills in a FabLab – a digital, design and fabrication laboratory. Groups of older people with a passion for arts and creativity, but to whom digital skills are new, are invited to create 2D and 3D digital craft products in an engaging and supportive environment. Professional artists will inspire and challenge them to use the digital tools to ignite their creativity.
Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company: ‘Digital Doris’
Digital Doris is a portable digital ‘kit’ which helps give older people the freedom to express themselves through movement and dance. The digital technology transforms everyday spaces into creative places to enable the user to interact with a projected digital version of themselves to create movement-based performance.
Ladder to the Moon: ‘Changing older people’s lives through interactive drama’
Ladder to the Moon is creating an online platform that enables older people living in care, and particularly those experiencing dementia, to benefit from interactive drama. The platform will empower staff in these care services with the skills, knowledge, guidance and materials to deliver interactive drama sessions. It will provide access to online play scripts, printable props, demonstration and teaching videos, and rehearsal exercises, enabling more of the estimated 70% of people living with dementia in UK care homes2 to benefit from this proven approach.
City Arts: ‘Armchair Gallery’
The Armchair Gallery App enables digital access to cultural collections for older people whose circumstances do not permit regular physical visits to museums and art galleries. The Armchair Gallery allows the over 65s to enjoy and appreciate a range of artwork through a series of virtual visits to arts and cultural venues, whilst raising curiosity and a deeper understanding about digital technology.
“With government projections suggesting almost 20% of the 20% of the UK population will be over 65 by 20243, we need to find new ways to combat loneliness and support those wanting to engage in purposeful activity,” said Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust. “We’ve seen how digital technology has the ability to enhance the lives and communities of the most vulnerable and isolated members of society. I look forward to seeing how these five wonderful initiatives enable older people to participate in the joy of creative arts and deliver wide ranging benefits to their health and wellbeing.”
David Cutler, Director, The Baring Foundation, commented: “The pace of technology is moving faster than ever before, but this new investment fund plays an integral role in making sure the older generation aren’t left behind. These five projects bring creative arts to the over 65s in new and innovative ways, helping to keep them mentally engaged and socially included. We’re really looking forward to working with the teams over the coming months to support their growth and maximise the social impact that they can deliver.”
The five organisations will use the funding from Nominet Trust and The Baring Foundation to develop and scale their products and services to create sustainable and financially viable business models. More information about the Digital Arts & Creative Ageing fund can be found here.
 Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life; Age UK (2015)
 Alzheimer’s Society, Facts on dementia: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=535&pageNumber=2
 Office for National Statistics, Overview of the UK population, (February 2016)