ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

Full Report 15 Background and context This programme built on Magic Me’s Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes 2015-2017, a series of partnerships with four care homes run by Anchor across London, supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Our arts partners, Duckie, Lois Weaver, Punchdrunk, and Upswing, brought cabaret, visual arts, performance, storytelling, immersive theatre and circus to their partner homes. Evaluation of the project noted very positive responses from care home communities and artists alike. There was much learning about how to bring high quality arts to older people living in residential settings, however many questions remained unexplored. Magic Me saw great potential in a second round of residencies, over a longer period of time. The launch of the ARCH Report in 2017 generated much interest from care providers, keen to partner with Magic Me. After supportive conversations with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we began to devise a new plan and reached out to potential care and arts partners. In line with Magic Me’s strategic plan to expand our activities eastward, offering arts opportunities in underserved communities in Essex, our goal was to find a care partner in a very different context to the inner-city London homes. Keen to capture and share learning we also approached Anglia Ruskin University, with a campus in Chelmsford, Essex, to be our research partner. Both Magic Me and ARU had been part of Creative Journeys in 2017. Setting up the partnerships Finding partners and rationale for choosing them Kate Hodson, Programme Director, reached out to a short list of arts companies whose work excited us and seemed to have, based on our experience from the first ARCH series, a relevant approach for care home audiences. We sought partners with a mix of arts ambition and truly person-centred practice, committed to long term work in care homes – not an easy brief. Through visits, meetings and viewing work we selected four arts partners, all then Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), two of whom were based in the east of England. They are curious directive in Norwich, Gecko in Ipswich, New Adventures in Farnham, and Fevered Sleep in London. Susan Langford, Director, focused on care partners. Desk research and conversations with Essex County Council colleagues and other local partners generated a shortlist of care providers with whom we had initial discussions. At the same time, by happy coincidence, Magic Me was contacted by Simone Bullen, Executive Head of Lifestyle & Innovation at Excelcare, who, knowing of Magic Me’s work with Westport Care Home in Tower Hamlets, was keen to discuss potential future partnerships. There are few care home providers operating at scale in Essex. Of Excelcare’s 31 homes, 11 are in the county across a range of locations – coastal, small town, small city, edge of London – giving the scope and variety we wanted for ARCH. We decided to partner with Excelcare and with input from all partners, we made a funding bid to Paul Hamlyn Foundation. A grant to fund the ARCH programme over four years was confirmed in June 2019.