Experience 2022: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person, an online learning programme, has been announced by Age & Opportunity, Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. Taking place over three mornings from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 December, this programme aims to outline the essential elements involved in working with older people in an arts and health context, and will feature presentations by some of the most experienced and inspiring practitioners working in this specialised field of practice. Places are limited to 20 and cost €20.00 each, which covers attendance on all three days. Further details and booking information is available from www.bealtaine.ie/news/ and from arts@ageandopportunity.ie Experience 2022: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person is funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.

This is the second year of Experience, which was devised in 2021 in response to the need for more training and practical orientation for arts practitioners who already have experience of participatory work in a health context, and who are interested in developing their practice to include working with older people. Participants last year described the programme as “inspiring and beneficial”, “uplifting”, “insightful”, “useful”, “important”, “essential”, “enjoyable” and “excellent”, with people highlighting the expertise and passion of the speakers, and the opportunity to interact with fellow artists.

In a programme which strives once again to be inspiring and pragmatic, participants will gain an overview of approaches and ways of thinking in this rewarding area of work, practical information and advice for different art forms and disciplines, valuable insight from artists, healthcare professionals and arts and health participants, and opportunities to share ideas and build contacts with their peers.

The exciting line-up of speakers includes specialist in creative intergenerational work Susan Langford, MBE; dance artist Ailish Claffey; Age and Opportunity’s Engage Programme Training & Development Facilitator Brian Dooney; Activities Director at Bantry General Hospital Sarah Cairns; Activity Co-ordinator at Waterford Residential Care Centre Paula Flanagan; artists Caroline Schofield, Jill Bouchier, Marie Brett and John Conway, arts programme participant Roger Green, and Founder of Music and Health Ireland Grainne Hope, with music from composer Ian Wilson and additional contributions from Tara Byrne (Age & Opportunity), Claire Meaney (Waterford Healing Arts Trust) and Justine Foster (Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre).

Announcing details of Experience 2022: An Introduction to Arts, Health and the Older Person, Tara Byrne, Arts Programme Manager with Age & Opportunity, said “We’re really pleased to present the ‘Experience’ learning programme again, in partnership with Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, to support artists who wish to develop their participatory arts practice to be more inclusive of working with older people. Coming from an organisation which advocates increased creative opportunities for older people, it is essential that we support arts practitioners to develop the skills and knowledge to play their part in realising this vision in imaginative and responsive ways.”

Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust, added “Our work in arts and health is person-centred and has partnership at its core, so we’re delighted that a programme participant and a number of our healthcare partners specialising in care of the older person are joining us to share their experience and expertise.”

Justine Foster, Programme Manager, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, concluded “Our three organisations have devised this programme in response to the need for more training, artist networking opportunities and practical orientation in this specialised area of work, and we’re really excited to have such a rich offering of artists from different art forms who have generously agreed to share their insight and perspective with arts practitioners coming through. It promises to be, once again, an inspiring and energising few days. Our sincere thanks to our funders, the Arts Council and the HSE, for their ongoing support.”

Programme Partners

Age & Opportunity’s vision is for an Ireland where all older people can be more active, more visible, more creative, more connected, more confident more often. The organisation’s Arts Programme provides opportunities for older people to be more creative more often, to create meaningful participation and representation for all older people in cultural and creative life and to demonstrate and celebrate how creative potential can improve with age.  The programme is based on the annual Bealtaine Festival in May and year round resource and development initiatives designed to support artists, arts participants and arts organisations. www.ageandopportunity.ie/arts/

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre is a hub of arts activity in the heart of Skibbereen, County Cork, providing access to and engagement with the arts for all.  Its vibrant and diverse participation programme enriches the visitor experience through workshops, masterclasses, film screenings, dance, discussion platforms and encouraging equality of access for people of all ages and cultures through its long-term programmes and projects.  www.westcorkartscentre.com Since 2005, in partnership with the HSE, Cork Education and Training Board and Cork County Arts Office, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre has been delivering a programme for older people in healthcare and community settings across West Cork. www.artsforhealthwestcork.com

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings. WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates our sense of identity and creativity. See www.waterfordhealingarts.com Core funded by the Arts Council, WHAT also supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie


– Places for Experience: An Introduction to Arts, Health & Older People, which runs from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 December, cost €20, and are open to professional arts practitioners with experience in participatory arts work in a health context. Places are limited in order to make this a valuable experience for all participants. Those interested in participating should email arts@ageandopportunity.ie by Monday 21 November 2022 at 12 noon with the following details:
:: Expression of interest: Why you would like to participate in this programme (50-100 words)
:: Summary of participatory work to date (50-100 words)

– Selected participants will be notified by 23 November and sent the link to complete their booking.
– Participants will receive the Zoom link for each day the evening before the event.
– Live captions will be available each day if required. If your application is successful, please indicate at that time if you wish to avail of this.


Wednesday 7 December:
Presentations by:
– Susan Langford, MBE, Director of Magic Me, the home of intergenerational arts in the UK.
– Ailish Claffey, dance artist, choreographer and curator
– Brian Dooney, Engage Programme Training & Development Facilitator with Age & Opportunity
– Sarah Cairns, Activities Director at Bantry General Hospital
Thursday 8 December:
Case Study presented by:
– Caroline Schofield & Jill Bouchier, visual artists working with Waterford Healing Arts Trust
– Paula Flanagan, Activity Co-ordinator at Waterford Residential Care Centre\

Workshops with:
– Marie Brett, visual artist https://www.mariebrett.ie/
– John Conway, visual artist https://www.johnconway.ie/

Participant Perspective with:
– Roger Green, participant in Art at the Kitchen Table, managed by Waterford Healing Arts Trust

Friday 9 December:
Networking Morning, facilitated by Grainne Hope, Founder and Director of Music and Health Ireland.