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Creativity and Co-creativity Part 1: With All

Based on the project With All, this step explains what co-creativity means in practice, highlighting some of its features and characteristics.
With the main project that I’m involved with at the moment, which is the With All project, we didn’t have a plan. So it was characterised by there not being a plan, which makes sense because it’s a co-creative project. We came together, Julian and I came together to think about how we could use the arts differently with people with dementia. And we didn’t actually quite know where to begin with that, but we knew that we were beginning with our sense that the arts are not necessarily just something that you can give like a medicine or like a dose.
With All is a co-creative arts project with a group of artists, specifically with three musicians and two dancers and with a group of people with a dementia and their partners. And we’re gathering every week– we’re now just coming to the end of this project– and we are gathering without a prior plan or structure, but with the sense that together, we’re going to make something, and we’re going to explore artistically, using music and dance, our emotions and our ideas. So it constituted of a series of small performances and compositions, if you like, that happen as out of improvisation. Everything is improvised.
So there are loose improvised musical movement sessions, where we the practitioners are responding a lot to the participants, and we’re trying to develop a level playing field between participants and practitioners, so that everyone is part of the improvising. Sometimes it can feel like a party. Other times it can feel like some sort of new age worship session. Other times it can feel like just to sort of hang out and other times maybe like a concert. So it sort of goes between– loosely– between those feelings. And also what’s essential is that there’s never really a feeling of who are the audience and who are the performers. The thing that we’re particularly interested in looking at is this concept of working co-creatively.
And what does that really mean when you’re working with people who are living with dementias?
So it’s very much about everybody who’s involved in the project having an equal footing and that the contributions that are made by each and every person are given equal value and equal meaning and equal weight within a creative process. The focus of the work and the emphasis of it is very much upon that creative process, rather than on outcomes. And that through really privileging the process, that builds relationship. We learn about each other. We learn about the relationships that we have with each other, and that any final outcome that does result is something that is jointly owned by everyone who has taken part. And it couldn’t exist without the input of each person who is part of the group.

This step provides an insight into With All, a co-creative project for people living with dementia and their partners. The step explains what co-creativity means in practice, highlighting some of its features and characteristics.

Hear the team explain the rationale for the project, and what it means to work co-creatively with people living with dementia and their family members and friends.

As you will hear in this step, the With All project involves several artists, practitioners, people living with dementia, and their partners, family members or friends. But co-creativity can take place between just two people. Do you have any experience of co-creating something, perhaps on a much smaller scale, where at least one of you has had a dementia diagnosis? Share your experience in the comments.

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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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