Bangor University to lead £1.2 million Dementia and visual Arts project

Bangor University is to lead one of a number of projects that will see university researchers, community groups and national charities and trusts working together to explore community health and wellbeing, community engagement and mobilisation.  The University has been awarded a Large Grant in the Cultures, Health & Well-Being theme, one of five Connected Communities Programme themes which share funding in excess of £7m.

The Connected Communities Programme is designed to help us understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life.  It is jointly funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The focus of the Connected Communities Programmes is on engaging with communities, giving them the opportunity to contribute to the creation, design and production the research.  By working in partnerships with community groups the research is able to produce knowledge and create resources that are of direct significance to the groups involved but also have wider societal, cultural and economic benefits.

Bangor University’s Dementia Services Development Centre receives £1.2 million to lead a project with other universities researching how taking part in visual arts can contribute to the health and well-being of people with dementia.  The Dementia Services Development Service at Bangor University has expertise in developing and researching the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for people with dementia and their carers, interventions that improve the health and well-being in older people, and delivering specialised training in dementia care.

This new research, due to commence 1st July, explores how dementia supportive communities might benefit from creative activities.

Dr Gill Windle, who will lead the project explains: "The project is about using a range of visual arts to challenging people's negative attitudes and to reconnect people with dementia back into their communities. We'll be researching how this works and how groups of people spread and share ideas, and measuring and tracking any resulting change in attitudes and perceptions about people with dementia."

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “This £ 4 million capital investment in the Connected Community projects will lead to the development of new ways to engage communities in creating, interpreting and using arts and humanities research data. This will leave a sustainable resource and legacy for future research and for communities.”

The three year project brings together social sciences researchers specialising in dementia, gerontology, psychology and economics with researchers in the visual arts, cultural policy and museum studies. Partners are Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Nottingham, Swansea and City Universities and University College London along with Age Watch, Alzheimer’s Society, the Arts Council of Wales, Denbighshire County Council, Engage Cymru, Derbyshire Community Health Service NHS, Equal Arts, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, National Institute for Health Research and Nottingham Contemporary Ltd.

Professor John G. Hughes, Vice Chancellor of Bangor University said:  “Bangor University is renowned for the contribution our researchers have made in developing and researching services for people with dementia and in looking at effective ways of enhancing the well-being of older people in our communities. I’m delighted that this exciting project is going to develop one strand of this work in a new and exciting direction.”

Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, ““On behalf of the Cross-Council Connected Communities Programme I am delighted to announce our support for these ambitious and innovative projects. In particular, I welcome their collaborative nature. Over 60 partner organisations of many different kinds are playing a key role, adding to the many hundreds of communities and partner organisations already contributing to the research.  The projects bring together researchers from over 20 disciplines, from the arts and humanities, social sciences, health and digital technologies, plus a range of international partners. It is truly boundary-crossing collaboration connecting countries, organisations and disciplines as well as communities.”

Publication date: 14 March 2013