Oxford Concert Party have recently completed an intergenerational cross-arts project which brought together members of Three Parishes Seniors" Lunch Club and children of a Year 5 class from Dr South's CE(A) Primary School. The aim was to interactively and creatively participate in music, poetry and story-telling with two professional musicians and a poet/story-teller, inspired by objects and artefacts at the Ashmolean Museum.
The project created a unique opportunity for the generations to interact and communicate with one another, creating an enhanced sense of identity within their communities. For the older people, the sharing and comparing of experiences with the younger generation, through music and words, was a real stimulation, giving them a sense of social inclusion and worth, and for the children it helped to develop a sense of history, belonging and pride in their communities.
The project ran over a period of 6 weeks, starting with a visit to the Ashmolean Museum, using music and poetry as a response to the artifacts in the museum. Led by two musicians, Isabel Knowland and Arne Richards, and the poet Pat Winslow, the sessions involved 12 children and 1 class teacher and 14 older people and at final sharing of work, we had an audience of 100. At the end of the project, each participant received a CD and an A4 book of the work produced.
The project benefits included:
development of social and cultural inclusion
development of an enhanced sense of community
enrichment of the lives of all who participate in the project
the encouragement of creativity
increased socialisation and involvement
stimulation of group interaction
the lessening of the generation gap
creating links across the community
encourage participation at the Ashmolean Museum"¨
For the older people, they experienced heightened memory and integration of memory with a common theme; gentle sensory stimulation and mild exercise
For the children, they got inspiration both with music and words and an appreciation of life's experiences
The feedback from older people included that the project opened up new vistas, in that creative writing had not previously been on their horizon. It also created a potential for "community glue" and created friendships between the participants of all ages. The Class teacher has noticed improvement in children"s confidence and ability, and that they are now more enthusiastic about poetry and some are ow auditioning for the school play whereas before they wouldn"t have.
We hope to run the project again in future, subject to funding, with more sessions which have been suggested by participants.