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Creative Enquiry – Artist Residency and Older People Engagement Project

Posted: 19 March, 2019

Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People is an investigative collaborative venture that creatively explores fresh approaches to arts engagement with older people and advances best practice models.

The focus of the Creative Enquiry is three artist-residency and older-people-engagement projects, hosted by three distinct arts organisations: the city-based multi-disciplinary Cork Midsummer Festival; Music Alive, a county-wide arts and mental health organisation; and Sirius Arts Centre, an arts venue located in the heritage town of Cobh.

The Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People programme draws on the creative inputs and specialist know-how of the different partners that make up the consortium. Creative Enquiry is an initiative of two Cork based local authorities, Cork City Council and Cork County Council arts offices in strategic partnership with, Age & Opportunity, the National organisation that promotes more positive attitudes to older people and, the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare-Cork South Community Work Department, facilitating community health and well-being initiatives, and, the three independent partner arts organisations.

The Creative Enquiry partners share the following value statement:

There is a universal right to participate in arts and culture. The arts has the potential to be transformative, to change and influence the attitudes and experiences of citizens. The arts can impact our wellbeing through the whole of our lives.

To sustain the arts we need to interrogate how art is made accessible, innovative and engaging. We need to embed access to the arts in our values as organisations but also action those values in what we deliver. Sometimes this is about policy development, about advocacy, about inspiration, about co-creating and sometimes this is about addressing practical barriers.

The Creative Enquiry consortium would like to investigate this statement and the following questions as part of its artist residency and older people engagement programme:

What are the barriers to participation in the arts for older people?

  • How can we improve pathways for older people to engage in more arts projects?
  • How can we assist older people to overcome barriers and increase their access and participation in arts projects addressing both creative and social needs?

How can we characterise quality arts engagement for older people?

  • How can we define ‘meaningful’ and ‘quality’ opportunities in the context of the arts and older people?
  • How then can we facilitate meaningful opportunities for creative engagement and dialogue with older people?
  • What do models of best practice look like in the context of your host residency organisation?
  • How can we ensure the exploration and development of quality arts opportunities with older people?
  • How can we create reciprocal relationships between artists, arts organisations and older people?

What do the arts offer us as we age?

  • Do the arts offer something different from other types of social activities that contribute to the wellbeing of older people?
  • Does the experience of participating in the arts offer something different to other ways of experiencing the arts?

We invite artists to respond creatively to the above statement and questions.


  • The artist is invited to interrogate and challenge this statement and questions as part of a residency with one of the three host organisations, either: Cork Midsummer Festival; Music Alive; or, Sirius Arts Centre.
  • We expect this response to be an experimental, creative and innovative process rather than a formal research response.
  • We expect an outcome to be presented within each host organisation.
  • The artist is required to document the residency ( e.g. through image, text and the spoken word) in conjunction with the project manager, to feed into a final collaborative publication.
  • As part of the residency there will be collaborative sharing event between partners and a publication launch.

For further details on the residency opportunities and how to apply, view the information document by clicking here. Full details on the specific Cork Midsummer Festival residency as part of Creative Enquiry, and how to apply, can be found here.

Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People is financially supported by: the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon Invitation to Collaboration scheme; Cork City Council; Cork County Council; and, the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare-Cork South Community Work Department, with in kind support from Age & Opportunity, and each host arts organisation.

(Photo details: Charlie who lives in Kilcroney Lodge at Saint Joseph’s Shankill, as part of Age & Opportunity’s Artist in Residence in a Care Setting 2019. Image by Motoko Fujita.)

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