Dementia-friendly Arts Guide: A practical guide to becoming a dementia-friendly arts venue

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Allen P, Brown A, Camic PM, Cutler D, Harvey L, Pasiecznik Parsons M, Sweeney R, Ward E, Zeilig H

Year of Publication:

Alzheimer's Society

Publication Type:


The purpose of this guide is to help arts venues of all kinds to be appealing to, and supportive of people living with dementia and their carers. This is an important part of a wider initiative – the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. Alzheimer’s Society has taken up this challenge and has led work across a range of sectors to make communities more dementia-friendly.

Heritage sites and arts and cultural venues are at the centre of our communities and have a major role to play in welcoming and accommodating people with dementia and their carers. Experts from across the arts sector and dementia research have come together in this guide to offer advice on how to make this happen. The first section of the guide discusses the various moral, artistic, financial, social, and health motivations for becoming a dementia-friendly arts venue, and then summarizes common dementia symptoms, and how they might affect a person’s visit to an arts venue.

The guide is written for people running arts venues of all kinds – large and small, urban and rural, theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries, and it goes on to detail further resources containing information to help venues engage with people living with dementia and their carers. The idea is that employees who have a further understanding of dementia will act in a more considerate way and create a more customer focused environment.

The guide also discusses factors that should be considered when designing programme events and activities that take the needs of audience members with dementia into account, such as including sensory elements in a programme, offering tailored exhibitions run by trained staff, and hosting participatory arts sessions for people with dementia. Enabling people with dementia and carers to access and find their way around an arts venue is a key part of making it dementia-friendly, and so a third section of the guide provides advice on both advertising the venue to people with dementia and designing or improving the physical environment of the venue so that it is a welcoming and safe space.

Case studies are interspersed throughout the guide, detailing some great examples of successful initiatives around the country. From the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery to the Courtyard Arts Centre in Hereford, they show a range of ways that the points above can be adapted to meet the needs of dementia-affected visitors and participants at their venues. The guide ends with a list of resources that provide more in-depth information about becoming dementia friendly.

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Non-Health Settings

Participant Group: Specific Mental Health Condition

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

APA Citation:

Allen, P., Brown, A., Camic, P., Cutler, D., Harvey, L., et al. (2015). Dementia-friendly Arts Guide: A practical guide to becoming a dementia-friendly arts venue. London: Alzheimer’s Society.