ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

Full Report 19 mobile phones, and big screens supported remote working, which all arts partners – along with the whole country – were now developing. The Excelcare L&I team roles changed, with Simona Petrehus and Helen Bennett remaining part of the project. Support for partners From early 2021 Magic Me brokered online meetings for homes and arts partners to reconnect. The story for each home was very different, but staff, residents and families had experienced huge trauma and exhaustion. In response Magic Me arranged a session for artists and arts partner staff with Danuta Lipinska to reflect on their own covid stories, and how they might respond to the situation in their care home. At monthly Zoom meetings arts partners could share experiences, questions and learning as they experimented with remote and then in-person work. Sally Knocker and Dementia Specialist Mike Philips provided bespoke support to partners, particularly as new artists and staff joined the project from 2021 onwards. Magic Me Associate Artists Georgia Akbar and Lily Ash Sakula shared their recent learning from other remote care home projects and Sue Mayo facilitated a session on ethical use of participants’ stories in making creative artworks. Changing plans The huge impact of the pandemic on the care home communities and the loss of momentum between the R&D phase and main residencies meant we had to rethink our whole plan. With generous support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who provided an additional emergency grant, we were able to add a fifth project year and re-run the R&D phase, including additional time for the ARU research to capture what was happening. However, with restrictions ongoing, the R&D, residency and legacy phases became wrapped up together through 2022 and 2023. During 2020 and 2021 the Cultural Recovery Fund, run by Arts Council England with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, provided extensive financial support to the arts and culture sector, keeping many organisations afloat. Magic Me benefitted from two grants, enabling us to not just survive, but to adapt and reinvent our work with communities, during these unique times. Legacy phase The main residencies were mostly completed by March 2023, but the legacy phase is ongoing. This includes the creation of a written resource booklet of creative ideas and approaches from the residencies, to be tried and tested by a cohort of six Lifestyle Coordinators from other Excelcare homes, for publication in early 2024. This will be shared initially across Excelcare and then publicly online. In a series of day-long training sessions in Spring 2024, commissioned by Essex County Council, ARCH artists will introduce these and other successful creative approaches to 120 activities coordinators across the county.