£100,000 Arts Council funding to combat rural isolation in Suffolk

March 28, 2018

A trio of Suffolk-based charities have today been awarded £100,000 from Arts Council England towards an arts programme aimed at supporting older people living in rural areas across the county.

Suffolk Artlink, DanceEast and the Rural Coffee Caravan are celebrating being one of just 16 partnerships in the UK to receive funding from the Arts Council England’s new ‘Celebrating Age’ fund, which totalled just over £1.5 million.

Their project, Make Do and Friends, will bring together the three organisations in an exciting partnership to explore new ways of reaching rurally isolated older people in a way that positively impacts their lives. The work, which includes celebratory dance events, will focus on delivering a high-quality arts outreach programme, led by artists. It will be co-produced with older people, to ensure that the individual needs of each community are reflected in the work.

Alex Casey, Co-Director of Suffolk Artlink, said: “We are delighted to have received funding from Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation to create an exciting new project to benefit rurally isolated older people in Suffolk, in partnership with DanceEast and the Rural Coffee Caravan.

“We are looking forward to working alongside professional artists and older people within Suffolk’s rural communities to develop an outreach programme of inspirational participatory arts that will help people develop new support networks and celebrate their creative skills and interests.”

Lucy Bayliss, Head of Creative Programmes at DanceEast, added: “The Rural Coffee Caravan does an excellent job at bringing people together in our most rural communities. We are excited to have the opportunity to work together with them and Suffolk Artlink to bring creativity and arts activity into the mix. As well as the chance to learn some new skills and meet new people, we will bring some bitesize dance performances to unlikely places, celebrating new friendships and interests.”

Ann Osborn, director of the Rural Coffee Caravan, said: “We are delighted that Suffolk Artlink have been successful in obtaining funding for this innovative project.

“We look forward to working alongside Suffolk Artlink and DanceEast as we continue with our village visits and events. These exciting and inspirational activities will be wonderful ways of connecting older people, strengthening communities and combating loneliness and rural isolation in Suffolk.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, concluded: “Highly rural areas can be very isolating for older people, particularly if they have limited access to transport or activities that promote social interaction. Make Do and Friends brings together a fantastic range of partners to create an exciting new participatory tour that not only engages more older people in the arts, but also helps to overcome feelings of loneliness.”

Suffolk Artlink will be seeking to appoint a new part-time artist facilitator to lead the development and delivery of the project. The candidate will need to have the ability to engage creatively with a broad range of people. Please contact Alistair Winch, alistair@suffolkartlink.org.uk for further information if you are interested in applying.

The project will run from Spring 2018 until Autumn 2020.

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