Connecting older people through art: Kerry Rooney

Connecting older people through art: Kerry Rooney

Connecting older people through art: Kerry Rooney

Introduction

Creative arts activities provide older adults with multiple benefits, including enhanced cognitive function. However, statistics show that individuals over the age of 65 are less likely to engage in the arts than at any other age, due to personal and societal barriers.

“My Churchill Fellowship acted as a catalyst for growth." - Kerry Rooney, Fellow

Arts director Kerry Rooney (CF 2014) is the founder of arts organisation Kaleidoscope. He has been involved in the arts, culture and heritage industry for over 20 years and is responsible for pioneering a multi-arts programme for older people called Imagine Arts, which aims to connect people and encourage their arts participation. The creation of this programme was heavily influenced by learnings gathered during Kerry’s Fellowship. It offers weekly classes to older people in a whole range of creative activities such as drama, dance, creative writing, photography and much more. To date more than 1,000 older people have taken part. As a result of this work, Kerry was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016, for services to older people and drama.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kerry swiftly moved all Imagine Arts programmes online. This was achieved with funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which enabled Kerry to set up a dedicated platform called Greysnet to help individuals stay connected during lockdown. As well as providing information about how to stay active, Greysnet is also a place where older people can find clear and reliable information about staying healthy and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kerry’s Fellowship took him to the USA to explore the provision of arts for older people. Through his work with Kaleidoscope, he had become interested in techniques which the organisation had developed to reach at-risk communities, as a means of engaging with older members of the community.

Kerry says, “My Churchill Fellowship acted as a catalyst for growth. It gave me the opportunity to see what was possible and the confidence to believe that I could make a difference to the lives of older people here in the UK.”

“My Churchill Fellowship acted as a catalyst for growth." - Kerry Rooney, Fellow

Arts director Kerry Rooney (CF 2014) is the founder of arts organisation Kaleidoscope. He has been involved in the arts, culture and heritage industry for over 20 years and is responsible for pioneering a multi-arts programme for older people called Imagine Arts, which aims to connect people and encourage their arts participation. The creation of this programme was heavily influenced by learnings gathered during Kerry’s Fellowship. It offers weekly classes to older people in a whole range of creative activities such as drama, dance, creative writing, photography and much more. To date more than 1,000 older people have taken part. As a result of this work, Kerry was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016, for services to older people and drama.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kerry swiftly moved all Imagine Arts programmes online. This was achieved with funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which enabled Kerry to set up a dedicated platform called Greysnet to help individuals stay connected during lockdown. As well as providing information about how to stay active, Greysnet is also a place where older people can find clear and reliable information about staying healthy and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kerry’s Fellowship took him to the USA to explore the provision of arts for older people. Through his work with Kaleidoscope, he had become interested in techniques which the organisation had developed to reach at-risk communities, as a means of engaging with older members of the community.

Kerry says, “My Churchill Fellowship acted as a catalyst for growth. It gave me the opportunity to see what was possible and the confidence to believe that I could make a difference to the lives of older people here in the UK.”