Creative arts and dementia: Projects


Dementia and Imagination - Creating community connections through art


Project Website: Dementia and Imagination



Bangor University is to lead one of a number of projects that will see university researchers, community groups and national charities and trusts working together to explore community health and well-being, community engagement and mobilisation. The University has been awarded a Large Grant in the Cultures, Health & Well-Being theme, one of five Connected Communities Programme themes which share funding in excess of £7m.

The Connected Communities Programme is designed to help us understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life.  It is jointly funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The focus of the Connected Communities Programmes is on engaging with communities, giving them the opportunity to contribute to the creation, design and production the research.  By working in partnerships with community groups the research is able to produce knowledge and create resources that are of direct significance to the groups involved but also have wider societal, cultural and economic benefits.

This research is especially important. People with dementia and their families often become disconnected from society through the stigma attached to the condition. At the same time, society often misunderstands the condition, and offers little opportunity for participation. There is a need for communities to change in the face of the increasing numbers of people with dementia.

Dr Gill Windle, of Bangor University’s Dementia Services Development Centre receives £1.2 million to lead research exploring how the vision for dementia supportive communities might benefit from creative activities. It will use visual arts as the catalyst for increasing connectivity and well-being, and challenging and changing the stigma associated with dementia. It addresses major research gaps, including:

  • Developing theoretically grounded research from a multi-disciplinary perspective
  • Improving the scientific quality of existing evidence to demonstrate the economic and social impacts
  • Evaluating the  community impact of arts activities
  • Artists in the research process, observing and creatively interpreting the dynamics and outcomes

The intervention programme will take place in North East England, Mid and North West England and North Wales. The research will utilise quantitative, qualitative and systematic observation methods. An extensive programme of engagement and dissemination activities will maximise the research impact.

The three year project will start on the 1st July 2013, and brings together social sciences researchers specialising in dementia, gerontology, psychology and economics with researchers in the visual arts, cultural policy and museum studies.

Partners are:

  • Manchester Metropolitan (Clive Parkinson),
  • Newcastle (Andrew Newman),
  • Nottingham (Dr. Victoria Tischler),
  • Swansea (Prof. Vanessa Burholt)  and City (Dr. Dave O’Brien)
  • Universities and University College London (Dr. Barry Hounsome),
  • with Prof. Bob Woods, also of Dementia Services Development Centre along with
  • Age Watch,
  • Alzheimer’s Society,
  • the Arts Council of Wales,
  • Denbighshire County Council,
  • Engage Cymru,
  • Derbyshire Community Helth Service NHS,
  • Equal Arts,
  • the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art,
  • Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums,
  • National Institute for Health Research and
  • Nottingham Contemporary Ltd.


Project Website: Dementia and Imagination