ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

56 Dare To Imagine Trying to deliver a focused session in a busy care home has its challenges, residents need to use the bathroom, wander off, need a cup of tea, can become upset. It is a different environment than we are used to creating and for us, it’s important that we can have focus and work hard but understand that this setting is unique and we must adapt while still striving for focus. We achieved it in many moments, but it is a very different negotiation. Artists’ reflection R&D At the start of the programme, Excelcare emphasised that artists would be working in the residents’ home and some artists expressed concern about invading residents’ space, for example by entering the rooms of residents who were unable to leave their beds without explicit consent. This was discussed with care home staff, and it was agreed that they would accompany artists to be a familiar face in such situations and would be able to chat with residents beforehand and afterwards. However, this remained a concern for artists when they were working with individual residents in their rooms and as they moved through different spaces, fully immersing themselves in the life of the home. Creative spaces Both artists and care homes were keen to incorporate some of the unused spaces as well as outside spaces and potentially going beyond the care home grounds into the local community. The ARCH programme encouraged them to rethink the use of space in the homes: how spaces could be used creatively and how artists could move their practice throughout the whole home to include all residents. Then we started talking about what these particular residents’ lives must be like when they’re in their rooms most of the time. The potential of that space, which is white walls and a white ceiling…all the white walls around are great portals into other worlds and that felt like something for [immobile] residents we could try and look at that and experiment with that. Artists’ reflections R&D Artists faced challenges when trying to engage residents in communal living spaces such as the residents’ sitting room, as the television was often on and there were other distractions. Though they did some work in communal spaces, they also identified other spaces where there were less distractions, and they were not imposing their work on anyone. Though it was noted during the R&D phase that the arts activities were not disruptive, in some cases the residencies involved taking over large spaces and changing or adding décor that would stay in place for extended periods of time. We commandeered a room in the home and we made a film set…That happened in a way because of covid, but also because we were all aware that in that main space there are a lot of distractions. That’s their main living space. So there was always…a desire to have a bit more control over our space… Arts organisation post-residency This was sometimes met with fear and negativity from care home staff and management when first attempted and some reflected that they had not been prepared for how involved the artists would be in the home. Though some care home staff initially perceived this as “intrusive”, “disruptive” and “commandeering”, such views were mostly tempered once they were able to see the value of the creative practice or output.