Leading charities Nominet Trust and The Baring Foundation have today launched a £500,000 fund for digital tech solutions to engage older people in the creative arts – from painting and sculpture to singing and drama.

The Digital Arts & Creative Ageing programme kicks off today with an open call for applications. It will offer forward thinking organisations the chance to receive grant funding of up to £90,000, plus business support to scale existing creative arts services. The successful applicants will demonstrate how digital tech is being used effectively as a medium or tool to engage the over 65s in the creative arts.

The two-year project will be spearheaded by two organisations well known for their work in addressing social challenges. Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading tech for good funder while The Baring Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust said:

“Through our grant funding, partnerships and the NT100, we see extraordinary examples of how the internet and digital technologies are tackling a broad range of social challenges, across numerous sections of society. This partnership with The Baring Foundation will explore how grant funding can make a difference in supporting the development of scalable and sustainable models for using digital technology to engage older people in the creative arts. I’m excited to see how pioneering organisations working at the fusion of these sectors can deliver innovative digital engagement projects, extending enjoyment of the arts to those of more advanced years.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, over 65s account for almost 20% of the UK’s population – a 47% increase since the mid-70s1 . According to Age UK, over 1million people aged 65 and over feel “always” or “very” lonely, which the organisation claims can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Age UK, 2015)2 .

Following a recent report ‘Technically Older’ by The Baring Foundation (2015), there is now significant evidence to indicate that providing access to digital arts has positive benefits to the general health and wellbeing of older people3`. This improvement in health and wellbeing has an economic knock-on effect as it decreases the public cost of looking after older people on the NHS as well as other social care services; which currently equates to two-thirds of total expenditure (Kings’ Fund, 2015)4.

David Cutler, Director of The Baring Foundation, said:

“We know that access to enjoying the arts has unquestionable benefits for health and wellbeing of the over 65s. At the same time there can be little doubt as to how digital inclusion has the ability to further enhance older people’s access to the arts. Our new partnership with Nominet Trust recognises this and works to give the UK’s ageing population further access to the arts through the use of digital technology.”

The programme is designed to support the scale and sustainability of existing service providers. Successful applications will not only demonstrate how they engage older people in the creative arts to enhance their health and wellbeing, but will also demonstrate a financially sound businesses model that has the potential to be self-sustaining.

About The Baring Foundation

The Baring Foundation was established in 1969 by Baring Brothers Bank and since 1995 has been an independent funder. It tackles discrimination and disadvantage throughstrengthening civil society in the UK and abroad. The arts are one of the Foundation’s three funding strands and since 2010 this programme has focussed on arts with and by older people. A brief account of this work entitled ‘Getting On’ can be found on the Foundation’s website: www.baringfoundation.org.uk