Creative Age

"While reminiscence has a role, we believe alternative approaches which focus on enjoying living in the present and exploring creativity and the imagination need to be embraced."

A recent report by the all-party parliamentary group for arts, health and wellbeing takes in two years of research into the impact of arts on health. Read the highlights here.

We've teamed up with cultural venues across the North East and Cumbria to help transform access to arts for those living with dementia.

With funding of £200,000 we've created Creative Age, a pioneering initiative leading the way in dementia-friendly arts sessions.

The 18-month project is running at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), National Glass Centre and Arts Centre Washington in Sunderland and Lakeland Arts.

An inclusive project, Creative Age offers friendly and creative sessions for older people with dementia, long-term health conditions and their carers.

The initiative, largely funded by Comic Relief and Arts Council England, will culminate in a region-wide Creative Age Challenge with participating groups staging a sponsored creative challenge of their choice during a week of awareness.

"My mum received a diagnosis of frontal temporal dementia. Creative Age gives mum confidence in a really positive way. "I can't put into words what it means to her and the family. Life can be tough for her when she is constantly 'wrong' or doesn't know what to do. I love to speak to mum on a Tuesday. I hear her excitement as she recounts what she has done. "I just feel as though the group and activities were tailor made for her. They seem to challenge her and tap into her inner most resources without over-whelming her."

Dementia and Creativity

This initiative is a huge step forward for the North East in terms of providing arts provision for those with dementia, their families and carers.

Figures show there are more than 30,000 people living in the North East living with dementia with this number set to rise to over 40,000 by 2021.

There is a growing understanding that creativity is intact long after other cognitive functions decline.

Creative Age sessions are inclusive, friendly and focus instead more on people’s imagination and ideas. They are about what the individual can do now, in a particular moment.

We believe this is an ideal opportunity to encourage arts venues in the North East to widen their offer for people with dementia.

"Being creative has made me realise that when you get down this is the sort of thing you should be doing and I had stopped because I wasn’t well."
"Instead I was concerned about remembering to keep things tidy and not forgetting how you do things. Now I know if there is something you like doing, that is more important. It has helped me turn back to the things I used to enjoy. I had just stopped but now I have that enthusiasm back."Joycelyn Grieves, 81, Creative Age participant at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
Creative Age sessions are held at:


Baltic, Gateshead, on Mondays 10.30am - 12.30pm, Email: Sarah Bradbury at [email protected]

Abbott Hall, Kendal, on the First Tuesday of the month - 2 - 4pm, Telephone booking only: 01539 722464

Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, on Tuesdays 10:30am -12pm, Telephone Ruth Sheldon:  0191 477 1495

Mima, Middlesbrough, on Thursdays, 1pm - 3pm, Telephone Claire Pounder: 01642 046953

National Glass Centre, Sunderland, on Thursdays 2pm - 4pm, Telephone Rachel Groves 0191 515 5555 ext 5523

Arts Centre Washington on Fridays 1.30pm - 3.30pm, Telephone Emily Corney on 0191 5613458 

Arts Centre Washington on Thursdays 1.30-3.30pm, Telephone Emily Corney on 0191 5613458 

Or Contact us on 0191 477 5775 to book a place.

Creative Age Challenge

Offering an alternative to physical fundraising challenges, Creative Age Challanges are inspired by those who take part in our daily Creative Age Sessions.

Led by the interests of older people with dementia and their carers, each venue signed up to the initiative will set their own creative challange helping engage the community and raise proceeds to fund creative opportunities for older people.

This Autumn at Lakeland Arts' Abbott Hall they had a yarn-tastic time with their community wool gathering. The Handmade Herd Creative Age Challenge raised over £1,000 with schools, older people and community groups all making handmade sheep to be auctioned.

Find out more about the challenge here.


We are offering training for artists interested in finding out more about using the Imagination Model when working with people living with dementia.

To find out more about our upcoming training for artists please email [email protected].

Please help us fund more projects