Brian Sloan: involvement in the arts keeps you young

Hip Hop-eration from New Zealand at the Luminate festival. Picture: Ida Larsson
Hip Hop-eration from New Zealand at the Luminate festival. Picture: Ida Larsson
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A unique festival aims to spread the message that involvement in the arts keeps us young, writes Brian Sloan

Research has shown that engaging in the arts improves our mental and physical well-being as we age. We know conclusively that keeping active, both physically and mentally, helps you to increase your chances of having a healthier later life; yet older people’s involvement in the arts decreases with age.

Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival, is an attempt to tap in to the well of talent that is Scotland’s older people. Whether taking part in an art workshop in Glasgow, trying a dance class in Edinburgh, listening to a ukulele band in Perth, visiting an author’s event in Dumfries or a storytelling performance in Sutherland, there really is something for everyone in every part of the country. In addition to the public programme, there are also outreach activities in care homes, day centres and lunch clubs across the country. Visit enough Luminate events and you soon to begin to understand that creativity has no age.

Broth by Donna Rutherford explores the experience of older people in Scotland through the tradition of soup making, using individual stories to highlight the changes in people’s lives, families and communities.

Luminate is also thrilled to present Descent by Linda Duncan McLaughlin in association with A Play, A Pie and A Pint and the Traverse Theatre. This play explores one couple’s love and struggle with dementia, and the courage and the acceptance they’re bringing to the fight. This year’s film tour brings some exciting titles to a cinema near you. An engaging documentary, Hip Hop-eration, introduces a group of older people from New Zealand preparing for the biggest dance competition of their lives - the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas. In many venues, this film will be screened along with a short documentary Directed by Tweedie, examining the relationship between children and their grandparents.

The Lunchbox is an international production telling the story of two strangers whose paths cross accidently in bustling Mumbai, India – it’s a simple but beautiful story about issues of growing older and finding your way in modern life. And look out for The Whales of August, which tells the story of two widowed sisters living together on the Maine coast. Presented in a newly restored print, this film is a masterpiece and one of the finest and most poignant films ever made about older age.

Luminate is all about exploring what ageing means to all of us and discovering your creative side, so why not try something new or attend an event that might inspire or surprise you? You can join us in Greenock for All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre’s new performance created with, and performed by, older dancers from Inverclyde. You can take a walk along the High Street in Inverkeithing and pop into some of the shops to see Rosie Gibson’s thought-provoking artworks, inspired by the “nuggets of wisdom” of local older people. Or if you fancy a new dance experience, you could attend a dance workshop to the music of the Rolling Stones with Rambert, one of Britain’s flagship contemporary dance companies! This is just little taste of what’s on offer during Luminate, we hope you will find something that you like. The festival runs to the 31st of October and whether you’re an older person looking for a show or you want an opportunity to enlighten your views on older people in the arts, Luminate is here for you. I’ve said it once but it’s worth saying again, creativity has no age, and to fully embrace that ideal brings the benefits of the arts to all. To quote Picasso, an artist who created profound work in to his late 80s, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”.

The programme and more information about the festival are also available online at www.luminatescotland.org.

• Brian Sloan is chief executive of Age Scotland