In recognition of the huge impact the current situation has had on care homes, Arts Together has launched a new project which will see music, drama and performance being used to boost the mental and emotional wellbeing of residents and their carers across Leeds.
During September, Arts Together for Care Homes will see local freelance performers delivering socially distanced outdoor performances at the city’s residential homes. Artists taking part include poet Michelle Scally Clarke, opera singer Bibi Heal, singer Thandanani Gumede with pianist Dave Evans, and clarinettist Oliver Dover with cellist Michael Bardon.
Alice Gilmour from the Community Partnerships team at Opera North, which co-ordinates Arts Together activity, said:
“As a network which provides a lynchpin between the diverse arts organisations and community groups in Leeds, Arts Together was in the perfect position to do something focused on the wellbeing of those living and working in residential homes at this difficult time.
“It made sense to divert the generous funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation that had been ear-marked for events which can no longer take place as planned, to an immediate live arts experience which we were able to offer to those likely to benefit most. Crucially, this project has the dual outcome of providing freelance artists with some much-needed work while also reaching out to local care homes who could definitely do with a lift right now.”
Arts organisations within the Arts Together network, including Holbeck’s Slung Low Theatre, as well as Leeds Playhouse, Space2, Hyde Park Source and Opera North have suggested the performers for the project. These will range from various kinds of singers and musicians to poets and spoken word artists. Tessa Smith, a vintage jazz singer who runs the choir at Slung Low, performed at four care homes during the pilot stage:
“I am so happy that I can be involved with this Arts Together project. It is a real joy to go and sing for the residents and to see how much they enjoy listening, singing and dancing along to the music. I feel very lucky to be able to provide this entertainment in these settings; it raises my spirits as much as theirs.”
Arts Together aims to visit a broad spread of homes across the city, concentrating on those that have the greatest need. Jo Bailey, Wellness Co-ordinator for the Anchor Hanover care homes where Tessa performed, said:
“Initiatives like these are hugely appreciated at a time like this when both residents and staff are having to adapt to a complex situation. Having Tessa really brightened up everyone’s day and brought them together. It made such a difference being a live performance, and everyone appreciated being given the chance to enjoy a musical interlude from such a talented singer.”
Performances follow all the current government guidelines on live performance.
Arts Together is very grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for the funding provided for its work.
This post is based on a press release issued by Opera North
Photo: Tessa Smith entertaining residents and staff at a care home. Photo credit Arts Together