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The Older People’s Arts Network (OPAN) is a network of older people’s arts providers within the borough of Lewisham, which includes Age Exchange, Entelechy Arts, Greenwich Dance, Montage Theatre Arts, The Albany, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. The aim is to help find a way to articulate the local arts/culture/participatory offer for older people and improve the coherence of what is provided, sharing expertise, practice, research and training.

AGE GAP Symposium

In April 2013, OPAN hosted a symposium at the Laban building. The participants explored ways of supporting and nurturing artists to develop creative practice in participatory settings with older people. The symposium was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s new Special Initiative ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings, and was facilitated by the Audiences Agency. The report is available here:

AGE GAP Symposium report (PDF)

The report was used to inform OPAN’s planning of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities for artists working with older people, which took place from November 2013 to February 2014, both with experienced and emerging artists.

As a result, OPAN planned two CPD activities for both emerging and established artists working in participatory settings with older people: Sharing Practice and Older & Wiser.

Sharing Practice

Sharing Practice was created in response to a need for CPD for experienced artists who had been working in the field of older people’s arts for at least three years. Eight artists, who responded to a call to artists working across the OPAN network, met for an initial day held on 22 November 2013 facilitated by Clair Chapwell, an artist experienced in working with older people’s arts. The group met and were led through a series of self and co-reflective activities. They then went away and met separately to observe each other’s practice in situ. The group re-convened on 24 January 2014, this time to reflect back on the observations and engage in some co-mentoring activities.

Older & Wiser

Older & Wiser was a one day conference-style event that ran on 7 February 2014, targeted at emerging older people’s arts practitioners. The need for such an event was identified through OPAN, which recognises that there is a shortage of artists who have the understanding, experience and skills to undertake this work, which is currently undergoing a period of growth in terms of recognition, as well as financial investment.

Final report

The final report is available here:

Report to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation: ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings

More information

For more information about our professional development opportunities, contact Louisa Borg-Costanzi Potts at