Age Scotland reflects on Luminate’s 10 years

By Brian Sloan Chief Executive Age Scotland

From the popular creative ageing festivals to dementia inclusive singing groups and online art classes, Luminate has led the way in supporting older people in Scotland to engage with the arts for the past ten years.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since Scotland’s creative ageing charity was born out of the first creative ageing festival. That event in 2012 showed there was a real appetite among older people to participate in activities that allowed their creativity to flourish and to be engaged with artistic endeavours across the country.

Since then, Luminate has evolved to include longer term projects with care homes and veterans’ groups, training and development courses and residencies for older, emerging artists.

And there are fresh ideas emerging all the time about how to make the arts fully inclusive for older people from all backgrounds.  Recently launched Saturday Socials for older people from the LGBTI+ community are already proving successful, as are the many events Luminate organises for people living with dementia and their carers.

Luminate finds ways to bring creative projects together for older people across Scotland. Christmas Caledonia, was a Dementia Inclusive Singing Network event that was live-streamed to more than 700 people. The beautiful decorations were specially created by the Dolphin Arts Project in Ullapool.

At Age Scotland it is our mission to support older people to enjoy later life and to promote positive views of ageing. It is a pleasure to support the team at Luminate to work towards these goals every day with their programme of events and resources to allow older people to take part in the arts as individuals or as part of a group.

Another vital part of Age Scotland’s work is tackling isolation and loneliness among older people. We know that the Covid pandemic has had a damaging impact on tens of thousands of older people who feel more alone than ever after months of lockdown and restrictions. We are only just beginning to see older people’s groups and social activities resuming, and there is, understandably, a great deal of caution.

The events supported by Luminate – such as attending concerts, visiting art galleries and joining dementia-inclusive choirs – are all great ways of helping older people to feel less isolated and more connected with their community and we hope to see many more of these events taking place in the coming months.

During the pandemic, the Luminate team, like all of us, was forced to move its activities online. Its projects included art online and digital dancing. For older people who aren’t online there was a telephone-based story gathering in Skye. The popularity of these creative projects illustrated the importance of the arts to connect people during difficult times.

It also reinforces the fact that creativity doesn’t wane with age. It’s impressive to hear of writers who published their first book aged 70 or artists who painted well into their 80s. But you don’t have to be producing great works of art to be creative. The work Luminate does to support older people allows them to celebrate their own creativity and enjoy the benefits that being creative brings, including personal satisfaction and improved mental wellbeing.

Members of older people’s rock bands, older printmakers and graffiti artists have all shared the joys of continuing their creative pursuits into later life, supported by Luminate.

In the past ten years, Luminate has grown from a one-off event into the national charity for creative ageing with connections across the country. Age Scotland is proud to be a supporter and we look forward to seeing what the next ten years hold. So, from everyone at Age Scotland to our friends at Luminate, a very happy 10th birthday. We’re delighted to celebrate creatively alongside you.