Last year the Arts Gymnasium project, which uses theatre, drama and arts to improve health for over-50s, was launched by the Belgrade Theatre, Age UK and Coventry University, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The project uses theatre and arts activities to improve the quality of life of people in Coventry, with activities particularly geared to help people with memory impairments and/or dementia.
Photo by Coventry University student, Tara Rutledge
Coventry University academic Katherine Wimpenny is evaluating the project and this will focus on the part theatre and arts specifically can play in improving the lives of the older community, especially by engaging vulnerable communities. She said:
Coventry is vibrant, diverse, artful and multicultural and the best thing about it is the people. I think it is really important that projects like this provide opportunities for us to collaborate and share respective expertise.
This leads to other connections being made, for example, the Belgrade facilitated a workshop in the DMLL (Disruptive Media Learning Lab, based at the Lanchester Library) last year, which saw actors and practitioners sharing rehearsal room techniques with engineering and sociology academics to re-present learning in new and imaginative ways.
The University can work with community on more projects like this, through understanding the views of local residents and by engaging in community projects to enhance relationship building.
Photo by Coventry University student, Christian Sterk
John O'Toole, an Arts Gymnasium project member, said:
This project helps to realise potential you don't even know you’ve got.