ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

Full Report 47 In terms of practicalities, the size and resources available needed to be considered, with smaller arts organisations paired with smaller care homes and ensuring appropriate levels of support. Also, geographical location was important in terms of distance for artists to travel as public transport could cause issues. For those arts organisations based in London – and particularly for Magic Me in overseeing the ARCH programme – there was also learning around taking artistic practice to another geographic location, as well as the need to acknowledge the strong connections that care homes had to the local community. For artists, delivering authentic practice that reflected their ethos and values was essential, so the residency flowed better when this aligned with the values of the care home. …their ethos and their attitude to that was very… reassuring in that I felt it aligned with what I was hoping for and my sort of assumptions about how we would work in that setting. By that I mean their warmth, their humanity in terms of those relationships, their playfulness… our work fits very well with that. Arts organisation pre-residency Magic Me had invested time getting to know the care homes but reflected that they could have spent more time with the arts organisations to understand particularly how they work outside of arts settings, which would support the matching process. Similarly, it was also recommended that care homes – especially care home management – should be aware of the artists’ work beforehand to understand their approach, ascertain whether this would be transferable to their specific context, and give a sense of what to expect. This would have helped support a smoother journey for the paired arts organisation and care home working together through the programme. Overall, further deliberation of the approaches, values, and personalities involved would have helped to lay the foundations for strong relationships, with some artists reporting that they would have liked to have been involved in this decision. Understandings and expectations of ARCH Artists and care home staff came to the ARCH programme with a range of expectations that had to be carefully negotiated. While arts organisations and artists were used to embarking on new projects in new contexts, some had not worked in care homes before and were unsure what to expect. Similarly, some care home staff said they did not come into the project with specific expectations and reflected that “it was quite nice not to have known anything and to expect the unexpected”. However, many care home staff were used to “entertainers” coming into the home to perform or do a one-off session with the residents, which shaped expectations and pre-conceived ideas about what an artist is and does. This did not fit with the approach of arts organisations or the ARCH programme as an “artistic project” and could lead to anxiety, resistance, and rejection of ideas. For example, some care home staff expected artists to turn up and deliver something that they had pre-planned so wanted to know what specific activities were going to be happening and when; they wanted certainty and were uncomfortable with the more fluid and paced approach of the artists. There were also different expectations around the time investment and engagement required from care home staff. While arts organisations began with high hopes of engagement and involvement, care home staff sometimes did not see this as part of their role. This issue was pre-empted by a Care Home Manager during the R&D phase.