Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

ARTS | Dementia friendly arts and culture

EXTERNAL DAM2018_logo_vertical-sm

The arts and cultural sector can play an important role in providing opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in cultural life. Engagement in the arts has demonstrated positive impacts on cognition, memory and wellbeing.

A dementia friendly community or organisation would provide more than a program or two to engage people with dementia – they would have dementia friendliness embedded in everything they do including their physical environment and infrastructure. It is not merely art therapy for people with dementia, but recognition of the cultural rights of people living with dementia and bringing a different approach to care and engagement to public programming. For example, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art  has implemented a 10 week program where participants visit the museum and create their own artworks. It incorporated a collaborative research initiative to examine the role of art in the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

September is Dementia Awareness Month #dementia2018, themed ‘small action, big difference’, and 21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day. This prompted me to look around at what was happening in the arts and cultural sector in Queensland and talk to some friends and colleagues. My internet search revealed that dementia friendliness appears underdevelopmed in the arts and cultural infrastructure, institutions and organisations around the state. In Queensland, several museums and galleries have implemented arts and dementia programs including:

Public and community museums, galleries and venues are well placed to initiate dementia-friendly programming, venue design and venue operations. A search of the Museum and Gallery Services Queensland website reveals no reference to dementia. It is unclear whether Public Galleries Queensland offer any guidance on dementia friendly initiatives. Although individual galleries, such as Logan Art Gallery, promote art and dementia initiatives as part of their public programming. Congratulations to those organisations and venues that have developed and continue to deliver dementia friendly programs and initiatives. Perhaps a sector-wide approach is needed that can be tailored for specific communities and localities.

Based on my googling, it seems that dementia awareness and friendliness requires ongoing leadership, attention and development in the Queensland arts and cultural sector. Of the eight Brisbane locations on the Dementia Friendly places community map none are arts or cultural organisations or venues despite the inclusion of programming and appropriate environments.

For those organisations that can see the importance of raising their dementia awareness and becoming dementia friendly, here are some suggestions:

No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: