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15 October 2020

Key workers: creative ageing in lockdown and after

David Cutler
The creative ageing sector's response to supporting the wellbeing of older people during COVID-19 has been immensely impressive. However these organisations, like the rest of the arts sector, are worried about the future.


On 23 March 2020, many arts organisations working with older people ‘went remote’ almost overnight, with most starting from scratch. They provided live creative sessions online, demonstrated activities on YouTube, made up weekly letters and activity packs to post to participants, and delivered sessions by telephone. Many went beyond their creative services, calling participants to see how they were, raising funds to provide participants with tablets, and delivering food and essentials to those shielding.

Yet, with no return to normal in sight, the vast majority are worried about their financial viability, as well as about the health and wellbeing of both participants and artists.

This report is based on a small survey and 16 case studies of creative ageing organisations across the UK, as well as learning from a decade of funding in this field.

It highlights some of the ways in which arts organisations have supported the wellbeing of older people during the COVID-19 pandemic, explores the challenges that they are facing, and asks what needs to happen to make sure they can continue to do so.

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