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Join us on 03 October as IMMA marks the culmination of its two-year Art & Ageing Fellowship with a public seminar. IMMA’s mission is to connect audiences and art, providing an extraordinary space in Ireland where contemporary life and contemporary art connect, challenge and inspire one another. With 11 people per day being diagnosed with dementia in Ireland, IMMA believes that a diagnosis of dementia should not result in the exclusion of those people from this extraordinary space. The Art & Ageing Fellowship provided IMMA with a timely opportunity to investigate what the museum needs to put in place to best ensure parity of access and assist people with dementia to connect, be challenged and inspired by our collection and exhibitions.
Over the course of the Fellowship, IMMA Fellow Bairbre-Ann Harkin worked with people living with dementia, their families, friends and professional careers, inviting them to have their say and contribute to the development of IMMA’s dementia-inclusive programme. This action research threw up pertinent questions about the place and role of older people and people living with dementia in our museums and cultural spaces. This seminar provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we learned, speaking to key stakeholders and exploring questions arising out of the Fellows’ research.
The seminar offers an opportunity for participants to engage with experts across the arts, the medical field and dementia-care sector in an exploration of value driven, rights-based approaches to accessible arts programming. Light refreshments are provided on the day.
Emily Pringle, Head of Research Tate, trained originally as a painter and worked freelance for many years as an artist, educator, researcher and programmer before joining Tate in 2010 as Head of Learning Practice and Research. In 2017 she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship that allowed her to take 10 months away from Tate to research and write on art museum research. The resultant publication – Rethinking Research in the Art Museum – was published by Routledge in August 2019. In February 2019 she was appointed Head of Research at Tate. See more details here.
Dr Ann Leahy, is Policy Analyst and an Irish Research Council Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Maynooth University. She worked as Assistant CEO at Age & Opportunity for almost two decades. There she was responsible for the organisation’s work in the arts carried out in collaboration with a large range of arts organisations. Examples of what this involved include developing the Bealtaine festival from earliest beginnings to securing funding for staff, and developing Creative Exchanges, a course in creativity for Activities Coordinators in residential care. Her MA on Social Justice and Public Policy (completed in 2011) involved a thesis examining quality of life for older people living in care through participation in professionally-led visual arts programmes. Her PhD was an innovative, interdisciplinary study of ageing and disability involving two groups rarely studied together – those ageing with long-standing disability and those first experiencing disability with ageing. She has extensive experience as a freelance Researcher specialising in ageing and disability, and in issues of poverty and unemployment across Europe.
Tina Leonard is Head of Advocacy & Public Affairs at the Alzheimer Society of Ireland where she works on the development of communications, advocacy, public affairs, policy and research programmes. An experienced advocate, Tina has previously worked as a consumer journalist, author, media commentator and communications consultant and was previously Director of Ireland’s European Consumer Centre. A former member of the Board of the National Consumer Agency, Tina currently serves on the Board of the Citizens Information Board and on the Central Bank’s Consumer Advisory Committee. See more details here.
Dr David Robinson, Consultant Geriatrician, St James Hospital. Robinson graduated from Trinity College and is a consultant geriatrician in Saint James’s Hospital, where he is clinical lead of the National Memory Clinic. His subspecialty interests include dementia, healthcare ethics and law. He is co-chair of the Social Prescribing Network of Ireland and helped create LAMP – the Local Asset Mapping Project, an asset-based community mapping exercise that generated a directory of services for use in social prescribing. See more details here.
Jacinta Dixon is 68 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. She lives in Clondalkin in Dublin. She has three children and 6 grandchildren. Jacinta lived in East Africa for 25 years and spent 11 years working for the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI). Jacinta wants to continue to live well and be part of her community despite her diagnosis. She enjoys collecting her grandchildren from school, likes to go supermarket shopping locally and take regular walks. Her granddaughter Ruby who is 10 helps with her makeup! Jacinta enjoys hiking and the outdoors. She walked the Camino di Santiago in September 2018 to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. Since her diagnosis, Jacinta feels that she receives great support from her family and the local community, but she feels that sometimes feels that members of the public do not fully understand what dementia actually is. Jacinta feels that there is a big stigma around dementia and this can only be broken down by members of the public finding out more information about the condition.
Jacinta is a member of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Irish Dementia Working Group (IDWG) and has found a new purpose since joining the group. After diagnosis she struggled – ‘You suddenly become a non-person or a person with a different label instead of being the same person who now needs a little extra support‘.
But now as a volunteer advocate Jacinta is finding her voice and she encourages all of us to not dismiss people with dementia, or simply offer them a cup of tea; ‘Don’t just say “Sit down and have a cup of tea”. That’s great, but there’s more to be said, more to be thought about, more to be spoken of, more to be done, and more support to be given.” In 2019 Jacinta has shown leadership on projects with the Abbey Theatre and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, she is passionate about the right to access cultural spaces. See more details here.
Ronan Smith, Theatre Producer and Irish Dementia Working Group Chair. Smith was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s in 2014. He lives in Blessington, Co Wicklow with his wife Miriam and two children. Ronan was born into a theatrical family and acted as a child in RTE’s Tolka Row and in various feature films. He is the son of distinguished Dublin theatre impresario, the late Brendan Smith, and his wife Miriam Brady starred in Glenroe. Having studied law after school, Ronan qualified as a solicitor but immediately gave into the genes, developing a steady career as an actor and director, before, over the years, turning to management and production. Among many other projects, he was fortunate to play a significant role in the international touring of Riverdance and in mounting productions for the West End and Broadway. Indeed this work has led to a partnership between Riverdance and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. After his diagnosis, Ronan continued to work in Dublin theatres and was particularly involved in the Gaiety Theatre. Ronan cared for his father when he developed Alzheimer’s 30 years ago and was active in the then newly formed The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. He is a strong advocate and passionate about representing the voice of the person with dementia. Ronan is Chair of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Irish Dementia Working Group (IDWG), a member of the Understand Together Steering Group and an in-demand public speaker.
In December 2017, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland announced that Ronan would be the first person with dementia to join its Board of Directors and Ronan is enjoying representing the lived experience of dementia at board level.
Ronan has a particular interest in the Arts, at a recent National Gallery event he said ‘When I go to an arts event I am called simply to experience it, there is no right or wrong, no chance to make a mistake and definitely no labels! I still use my brain but it is a softer cognition, one which brings no stress. As my dementia progresses I sometimes feel stressed; like I am participating in a never ending test. Experiencing art brings no test, no pressure’. Read more detail here.
More speakers to be announced shortly.