Alice Thwaite's Story

Author: Alice Thwaite
Alice Thwaite's Story

Alice travelled all over the US seeking best practice in the use of the arts with older people, particularly those with dementia and in care homes. Since her return she has implemented several programmes in the UK and is working with leading London galleries and museums in developing their work in this field.

Alice is Director of Development at Equal Arts and has been a pioneer in the field of arts and older people for over 20 years. Equal Arts is one of only a handful of arts organisations in the UK that specialises in work with older people across high quality art forms.

Alice travelled to Ireland and the US, looking at the role of professional artists in the field and care staff training programmes, and how the two fit together. She examined some difficult questions about quality, choice, who delivers the work and who gets paid for it.

Her Fellowship enabled her to expand her knowledge on links between the arts and health. She has since incorporated what she has learned into developing projects in the North East, and on her return raised funding from the BIG Lottery for a 5-year project, which also involves developing a music group.

‘I am so busy as we have just started work in nine care homes – working with eleven artists and introducing the storytelling model TimeSlips that I first saw in the States on my Fellowship’.

Since her Fellowship Alice has spoken at the 3rd International Arts and Health Conference in Melbourne, Australia, at which Equal Arts was given an award for Innovation in Arts and Health. She has also delivered her findings at a North East regional seminar on Social Prescribing to health sector professionals, and has spoken at numerous conferences and seminars.  Alice is also involved in two steering committees for research projects on creativity and ageing at Newcastle University and Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives.

She now sits on the selection panel for future Churchill Fellows in the ‘Arts and Older People’ category, and participates in the development of national and international networks of organisations working in this field.

Under her guidance, Equal Arts works with professional artists in partnership with residential care homes, sheltered accommodation schemes, GP’s and hospitals, arts and cultural events, and local authorities to encourage more people to develop exciting projects for the older generation. They are now also running national projects and have expanded significantly over the past 2 years.