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The value of professional artists

Susanna Howard and Elly Wilson Wickenden highlight the role that professional artists have in arts-based practices for people with dementia.
I think we’re entering a really new interesting period with cultural commissioning, more and more councils across the country taking that and wanting to have arts practices and social proscribing to improve people’s well-being. I think for me, a slight concern is that volunteers can do this work. And what’s crucial, and what I’m passionate about is driving this is, is an artistic practise. Everyone who’s working in this way, it’s an inquiry, it’s a process, and we’re developing as artists in this field. And it’s not something that can be duplicated. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements of the way that you work. And we aren’t artists on high coming in. But what we are doing is a practice in and of itself.
Professional, high quality arts experience is absolutely at the core of what we do. And in terms of why it needs to be professional, I think it’s because of the skill set and the experience, and that allowing of people living with dementia to be creative. Artists have a unique set of skills, I think, that are completely different to a teacher– certainly a dentist– that are about enabling a person to express themselves in a way that maybe allows them to take risks or to explore their sense of self without the fear of being wrong or without there needing to be a kind of correct answer, which is really liberating for people living with dementia, who can often avoid situations where there is a right or wrong in case they get it wrong.

Susanna Howard (Living Words) and Elly Wilson Wickenden (Creative Arts East) highlight the pivotal role that professional artists can have in arts-based practices for people living with dementia.

Hear as they explain how artists sometimes possess a unique set of skills that facilitate those that they work with to express themselves, without creating a sense of being wrong – which is often liberating for those living with dementia.

Note from Moderator: This step it isn’t here to discourage anyone from giving creative and artistic activities a try and the video often brings up plenty of healthy discussion about whether you need to be a professional artist to bring these valuable skill sets. What do you think?

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

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