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Help us introduce more older people to the arts and culture, committee told

Published on 21 March 2019 01:50 PM

With better, long term, funding, third sector organisations can make more opportunities available for older people to participate in arts and culture and thereby bring about fundamental improvements to their quality of life and self-confidence.

This was the key message given to the National Assembly of Wales' Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee yesterday, as part of their Count Me In initiative, by Age Cymru.

The Committee heard that poverty affects more than 100,000 older people in Wales with 75,000 saying they always or often feel lonely. However, an evaluation of the charity's arts programme called Gwanwyn found that 92% of those involved in the arts reported some form of benefit, with a further 89% reporting benefit to their well-being as a result of attending a Gwanwyn event. One participant in the programme said: "Not only have I started writing poetry, but I've also started to make friends – something which would have filled me with horror in the past."

The charity's Arts & Creativity Programmes Manager Kelly Barr, told the Committee "With the right level of funding we can organise more projects at both the community level and the larger regional level and thereby improve the lives of more older people throughout Wales."

However, the Committee heard that funding was not the only barrier to introducing older and isolated people to the arts. The charity's Policy and Campaigns Manager, Dr Valerie Billingham said older people may become increasingly isolated in later life for a number of reasons including the lack of public transport and a poor physical environment that, for example, lack of accessible public toilets.

The Gwanwyn programme has found that other barriers reflected people's social environment where they were told at a young age that they were no good at art or that art wasn't for the likes of them.

The charity is concerned that, due to the current economic climate, local authorities are cutting back on local services such as day centres, libraries and arts venues which is having a negative effect on the level of participation in creative activities and social engagement in Wales, particularly amongst older people.

Ends.

Notes to Editors

1. Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales

3. We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales

4. We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people

6. Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436

7. Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284

8. Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our trading enterprises and the Welsh Government

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