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Creative Arts Essex blog - July 2018

Creative Arts Essex blog

Well, it’s been a very busy time for me and Mary since our project was shortlisted. We’re in the middle of organising drop-in events. We're also continuing to run workshops with mental health leaders and service users.

This is all on top of our day-to-day work at the University of Essex! Not that I’m complaining. Our work on dementia is an important part of the University’s future. We want our campuses to become more dementia friendly. We want our students and staff to become more dementia aware. Arts-based projects and events on dementia will help us do this.

I have to admit that we did experience a little difficulty when picking a name for our service. After much deliberation, we kept it simple and called it “Creative Arts Essex”.

We thought it was best not to include the word “dementia” in the title. We want our projects to appeal to many different people. Artists, community activists, students, school children, carers and health care workers. We don’t want our branding to make it look like an exclusive service for people with dementia.

We want to build creative communities around these individuals. A diverse range of people will provide them with the support that they need to be more creative. This, in turn, will help them feel more socially included.

We're thinking about how we can increase the number of creative workshops we offer. To aid this, we're going to develop a new area in our open plan office.

Subject matter experts will come and work with us in the "Essex Co-Design Lab". They will help us design and produce innovative learning resources for their students (as they do already).

As well as this, the lab will support projects run by Creative Arts Essex. We're also thinking how we can make the lab fully mobile, so we can work with people within their local community. This will avoid the need for people to always come to us.

We'll be using co-design, emotional design, and design thinking principles. You'll be able to learn more about this approach in a future blog post on our new website.

We've been piloting this approach on small projects involving one or two individuals. These projects have focused on mental health issues. If we win the prize, we will run two larger, community-based projects on dementia. One will focus on street photography, the other on creative writing.

We also plan to expand our current work on life stories and dementia. At the moment, we're working with two people living with dementia, and we'd like to work with many more.

Finally, we'll be running more educational events on dementia. The first will take place in November in the Lakeside Theatre (Colchester campus).

It's a partnership between the School of Health and Social Care and AZ2B Theatre Company.

For more information and project updates, please read our blog. If you’re interested in being a part of a future project, reach out to us via the contact form on our website.