Getting arty

Last updated on June 25, 2018

The arts strand of Our Connected Neighbourhoods (OCN) is in the capable hands of Artlink Central.  Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary  in 2018, Artlink Central produces artist-led participatory programmes that support people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health issues or people from excluded communities.

For the next three years, Artlink director Kevin Harrison will head up OCN’s arts programme and co-lead the project as a whole.

Kevin Harrison talks to participants at the Shifting Paradigms for Dementia workshop organised by Artlink Central

We caught up Kevin to find out more.

Q: So Kevin, could you give us an overview of what Artlink Central does?

A: We create innovative and accessible opportunities and experiences for people and communities who face complex issues; using the arts to remove social, physical and attitudinal barriers to participation in society.

Our projects often focus on alternative approaches to supporting wellbeing, learning and progression, from a sculpture commission project supporting veterans to repurpose their skills, to support to learning disabled artists to compose music, produce live art productions and undertake residencies.

Q: What about locations? Whereabouts does the work take place?

A: We work within hospitals, schools, prisons, day centres and community-based settings, as well as in the public realm. We work across art forms, collaborating closely with artists, statutory and voluntary sector agencies and with people accessing our artistic programmes.

Q: So is collaboration an important part of your approach?

A: Absolutely. One of our core organisational strengths is our partnership based working. This extends across all our areas of work, so we have been shortlisted as Perfect Partner in the 2014 Scottish Charity Awards for our work with NHS Forth Valley and highlighted by King’s College London as a Case Study for our Freedom to Create Programme as part of their Cultural Enquiry into the Value of Cultural Partnerships programme. We also work with professional freelance artists who brings creative problem-solving, technical skills, and who offer creative learning approaches to individuals and groups they work with. Artists support participants to take the lead in projects settings their own outcomes and building confidence as they have new experiences.

Q: And what can we expect over the next couple of years?

A: Ultimately we are looking to engage with people living with dementia in the community and care homes through artistic and cultural involvement. Also, within the context of the neighbourhood, we want develop the cultural elements that contribute to meaningful citizenship.  As we work towards a ‘cultural offer’, there will be a focus on integrating people with dementia into existing cultural events and venues, rather than simply seeking to put in place dementia-specific provision.

Kevin presented a workshop at the final Shifting Paradigms for Dementia workshop in May 2018, introducing Artlink’s work through an interactive session. Watch the short video below to find out more.