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Pioneering Radio Show Produced In Care Home

TWP-ensemble-macd-2medresAn innovative radio production created in collaboration with residents at a care home in Cornwall is the latest refreshing art intervention by the Home Service Project.

The 30 minute recording was aired simultaneously on local radio stations in Cornwall, including Source FM, CHBN and The Hub, on the 17th June; the ‘simulcast’ was well received and avenues are now being explored to take it to a national audience.

Home Service is a three year initiative funded by Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation, which aims to bring a variety of arts experiences into care home settings in Cornwall and Somerset.

Led by Arts for Health Cornwall & Isles of Scilly in Penryn, Home Service unites local arts institutions, practitioners and care home providers in order to enrich the lives of older people living in care – many of whom have conditions such as Dementia.

This latest strand of the project saw artist, writer and editor Mac Dunlop producing a unique piece of radio at Woodland Care Home in St Austell, which is run by Cornwall Care.

Mac, who was commissioned to produce the work by participating institution Hall For Cornwall, talked to the residents in order to establish a theme for a performance and subsequent broadcast which would reflect their experiences and life stories.

Mac explained: “I invited the residents, as well as their families, friends and the care home staff, to tell me their stories and memories of weddings – working with experienced performers we were able to add songs to the re-enactments of these stories.”

Mac first had to get to know residents and build relationships; he did this by visiting the home regularly, giving talks about poets and writers familiar to the participants, and by telling his personal stories too.

Through this process of reciprocal storytelling, Mac began to weave some of the memories he was given together, using the theme of weddings as a focal point for his script.

Mac then directed a group of performers from The Story Republic (a storytelling project from KEAP – another Home Service partner) and together they revisited Woodland Care Home to deliver a unique performance called ‘The Wedding Party’.

Dressed for the occasion and surrounded by wedding paraphernalia, the actors and Mac performed ‘The Wedding Party’ script, while a sound recording and short film were also produced to provide a lasting record.

Michael White, Head of Arts Development at Hall For Cornwall said: “We are really excited by the process and end-product of this art intervention, and are currently exploring ways of reaching a national audience with the resultant recording.”

Jayne Howard, Director of Arts for Health Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, commented: “At its core, the Home Service project is about creating a culture where interesting things happen in care homes – Mac’s radio show is the latest contribution to that effort.”

Douglas Webb, Chief Executive at Cornwall Care, said his organisation was proud to be part of the project, commenting: “Staff at Woodland Care Home were really enthused by this refreshing approach and we are looking forward to introducing more arts activities into our homes in the future in light of the obvious benefits for residents.”

Also taking part in other aspects of the project are Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Wren Music in Okehampton and Creativity Works in Bath and North East Somerset. Brunel Care in Bristol and Anson Care based in Redruth Penzance and Portreath are involved, while Falmouth University are evaluating the project.

For more information about the scheme please contact Jayne Howard, Director of Arts for Health Cornwall on 01326 377772 or jayne@artsforhealthcornwall.org.uk.

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