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30 September 2019

New agency to offer support for arts and older people

The Baring Foundation is pleased to announce funding for a new sector support body for the creative ageing field has been awarded to a partnership led by Manchester Museums.

The Baring Foundation is backing the creation of an agency that will advocate for and support the cultural sector to be more age friendly.

Since 2010, the Baring Foundation has dedicated its arts funding to work with older people. David Cutler, Director of the Baring Foundation said:

The Baring Foundation is coming to the end of a ten year programme of funding creative ageing across the UK . We are delighted to award the consortium led by Manchester Museums £250k to advocate for the development of this work, in particular emphasising its importance to English policy makers and funders. The record of Manchester for many years in engaging the arts to make it age friendly makes it the ideal place to take this work forward.”

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, is the lead organisation in collaboration with the Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery and GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the ten GM councils and the mayor). MICRA (The Manchester Institute for Collaborative research on Ageing) is also supporting the programme. The partners have an internationally recognised track record in leading innovative age friendly practice, adopting a citizen-based approach which champions agency, active participation and work led by older people across the arts.

The opportunity to be creative and to experience arts and culture is a right at any age. The Agency will investigate the profound shifts needed to tackle ageism and create sustainable age friendly culture and communities. It will act as an advocate to funders and policy makers. It will also connect people and organisations leading age friendly culture across England and beyond.

In its first year, The Agency will initiate a major investigation into diversity, age and the cultural sector. Older people will lead decisions and identify priorities for the Agency. It will recruit partners nationally and internationally to lead lines of investigation, events and campaigns.

Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum and GM Ageing Hub Strategic Lead for Culture said:

“It’s time to build momentum and for imaginative, brave thinking and action if we are going to address ageism and realise the potential of a creative ageing society. I’d encourage those who share this ambition – arts organisations, cultural leaders, policy makers, academics, artists and investors – to step up and get involved.”

Next steps

The recruitment process to find a Director to lead The Agency begins next month and it will launch in 2020. To register your interest in learning more about The Agency, please email

Editors Notes:

For further details contact: or

1st October is the UN International Day of Older Persons

 About the Baring Foundation

The Baring Foundation is an independent foundation which protects and advances human rights and promotes inclusion. Since 2010, the Foundation’s arts programme has focused on supporting participatory arts with people over the age of 60, particularly those facing disadvantage or discrimination. Over the last ten years, we have funded across art forms (from theatre, to music, to painting, to the circus, to the digital arts) and sought to promote high-quality arts provision in both care homes and in the community. This is one of the final grants of this programme before we move to our new funding theme of Arts & Mental Health.

This grant pertains to England only, though The Agency will work cooperatively with initiatives in the other three nations. We concluded that a good mechanism in England was to fund a group of organisations, to act as a sector support body.

About Greater Manchester Ageing Hub

The Greater Manchester Ageing Hub was established by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and its partners to coordinate a strategic response to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population. It is working to achieve Greater Manchester’s aim of being the best place in the UK to grow older. In 2018 Greater Manchester was named the UK’s first age-friendly city-region by the World Health Organisation.

About Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, first opened in 1890. It is the UK’s largest university museum and its vision is to build understanding between cultures and a sustainable world. Manchester Museum is working towards an exciting new £13.5 million transformation project hello future, which is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, to become the most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum you might encounter. This includes creating the world’s first Centre of Age Friendly Culture.  To find out more visit @mcrmuseum

About Manchester Museums Partnership

Manchester Museums Partnership (MMP) is a formal collaborative partnership between Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth. MMP is supported by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation.


MICRA, at The University of Manchester, is a leading research centre carrying out multidisciplinary research into fundamental questions about ageing. MICRA supports a community of more than 300 affiliated researchers, bringing together international experts and leading researchers working across the field of ageing.  Founded in 2010, MICRA is recognised as a leading international centre for research on ageing.