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Arts and Ageing
Australia has an ageing population and life expectancy is increasing. Recent demographic data indicate that 12 per cent of the population is now aged 65 years and over. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this number is expected to reach 18 per cent by 2020. This will lead to an increasing demand for a wide range of programs and services – including leisure – to meet the needs of our ageing population.
Arts and Ageing has only recently evolved in Australia as an area of focus. There have been a number of international projects such as Meet Me at MoMA (in the US), a major initiative for people with Alzheimer's and Dementia. The Baring Foundation in the UK has introduced a new theme for its 2010 Arts Funding round: arts produced and presented by older people.
The National Center for Creative Aging in the US has initiated a number of research projects on Creative Ageing, beginning in 2001 with Dr Gene Cohen who researched and wrote The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life. The current TimeSlips project explores the use of imagination, rather than memory, in storytelling as a means of engaging socially.
Arts and ageing has, in many instances, become a strategy to age well and, consequently, recent years in Australia have seen projects and research that facilitate and address the impact of the arts on the health and wellbeing of the elderly from a broader perspective than the previously dominant problem-oriented approach to physical and mental decline.
As the population of people with intellectual disabilities ages through advances in healthcare, people with disabilities growing into old age represent a distinctive and emerging group wtihin the Australian community. The trend towards living longer has been accompanied by people with disabiities retiring at an early age, which tends to exacerbate their exclusion by diminishing their links to their local communities.
The Lost Generation Project aims to engage people with disabilities who are ageing – and who have been institutionalised for most of their lives – in sustained arts and cultural development, with the aims of facilitating their social inclusion in the cultural life of their communities.
The Australia Council for the Arts supports a broad range of arts companies who work with ageing Australians.