Hello there! My name is Anna and I recently signed up to be an Age Friendly Ambassador.
I work in Leeds as a theatre producer, ensuring that artists get to make beautiful work and that audiences get to experience that work as much as possible. I recently started a new company, Fragments, with my friend Lily, making work in non-traditional art spaces for those who may otherwise be unable to experience culture.
We often joke that Lily is 27 going on 72! Since leaving university (we met whilst studying at the University of Leeds) she has dedicated her work to making art with, for and by older people. Lily spends the majority of her week with over 55’s and this sometimes results in odd vintage song choices and always being a bit chilly. But it also means she has made some amazing friendships and been given a true insight into the experience of older people in our society.
Lily’s work and friendships have inspired our new project, Kindness Kits. We are currently seeking funding to create an immersive adventure in a box that will initiate a postal friendship between isolated older people and their neighbours. Using creativity and storytelling, our Kindness Kits will be totally accessible to people of all ages and dementia friendly. It is our intention for the kits to be enjoyed by the whole household, giving carers and family members some new stimulus and encouraging those who have been shielding to reintegrate with their local community when it is safe to do so.
So much of good theatre/art/activism comes from giving previously marginalised voices a platform to tell their stories and we feel like the recent pandemic has put older people’s voices at risk of being silenced. Our hope is that we are able to exhibit the work generated as a result of the kits both online and in real life when restrictions ease.
I joined Age Friendly Ambassadors as a pledge, to myself and to the audiences that I make work for: to ensure that the art and culture in the city is representative of older people and is made with them in mind, and ideally with them in the room. Going forward, I hope to encourage other cultural spaces, programmes and organisations to be more aware of their older audiences and to make sure there is a warm welcome waiting for them.
and an Age Friendly Ambassador