Technically Older: an update on digital arts and creative ageing

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Randall J

Year of Publication:

Baring Foundation

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This report aims to revisit and update the work done for the 2012 Baring Foundation publication Digital Arts and Older People. It explores developments since 2012 in the field of artists working with older people using creative technology, and showcases ten exciting and inspiring new case studies.

The report begins by briefly summarising the 2012 paper, which sought to answer the question what is distinctive about working with older people using creative technology? Some of the points discussed were the issues that artists seek to challenge and explore through using digital arts with older people, the particular forms of participatory arts practice that are often facilitated by creative technology, and the limitations and disadvantages to the use of creative technology with older people.

Drawing on a new set of interviews and a literature review – both conducted in the spring and summer of 2015, this report then considers some of the new and additional benefits that artists today ascribe to the use of creative technology with older people. It notes that scale is an increasingly important rationale for the use of digital tools and media with older people – both because they can facilitate greater self-directed activity and because they provide opportunities for remote viewing of live arts events from non-traditional settings such as day centres and care homes. Another feature of creative technologies that artists have become particularly enthusiastic about since 2012 is the ease with which they can facilitate personalised creative opportunities that fit into a ‘personcentred’ approach to care.

Next, the report looks at some of the continuity in the wider landscape in which artists working with older people and creative technology operate. We note that despite digital arts constituting a large proportion of mainstream arts practice, funding and opportunities in this area are still disproportionately focused on the young. The issue of the ‘digital divide’ between generations remains salient, and with more services moving ‘online-only’ this problem may still be growing. And many artists working in this field still experience particular barriers around the use of technology in care home settings

Then, the report examines a few reasons to be hopeful for positive change in this external landscape. Many artists are anticipating – and some are already experiencing –changes as a younger generation advance who are more comfortable with some forms of technology. There are signs of positive changes to care home environments in which artists operate, as the demographic profile of care staff also changes. And technological developments – both to hardware and software – continue to make many forms of creative technology more accessible and appropriate for older people.

Ten detailed case studies are then presented, of interesting and inspirational practice that highlight and reinforce many of these lessons, before concluding with three challenges to actors in the field which, if acted upon, could lead to dramatic advances in the quality and quantity of creative opportunities for older people in the UK.

Evidence Type: Case Study

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Non-Health Settings

Participant Group: Older Adults

Art Forms: Film / Photography / Video

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Randall, J. (2015). Technically Older: An update on digital arts and creative ageing. London: The Baring Foundation.