The project aims to give a boost to the mental and emotional wellbeing of care home residents, as well as their carers, who have all felt the impact of the constraints and restrictions imposed in light of COVID-19.
Outdoor music and drama are being performed by local freelance artists at the City’s residential homes.
Alice Gilmour from the Community Partnerships team at Opera North, which co-ordinates Arts Together activity, said:
“As a network which provides a lynchpin between the diverse arts organisations and community groups in Leeds, Arts Together was in the perfect position to do something focused on the wellbeing of those living and working in residential homes at this difficult time.
It made sense to divert the generous funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation that had been ear-marked for events which can no longer take place as planned, to an immediate live arts experience which we were able to offer to those likely to benefit most. Crucially, this project has the dual outcome of providing freelance artists with some much-needed work while also reaching out to local care homes who could definitely do with a lift right now.”
Some of the theatrical companies involved in Arts Together are Leeds Playhouse, Space2, Hyde Park Source, Opera North and Slung Low Theatre, who suggested the performers for the project. These range from various kinds of singers and musicians to poets and spoken word artists. Tessa Smith, a vintage jazz singer who runs the choir at Slung Low, performed at four care homes during the pilot stage:
“I am so happy that I can be involved with this Arts Together project. It is a real joy to go and sing for the residents and to see how much they enjoy listening, singing and dancing along to the music. I feel very lucky to be able to provide this entertainment in these settings; it raises my spirits as much as theirs.”
Jo Bailey, Wellness Co-ordinator for the Anchor Hanover care homes where Tessa performed, said:
“Initiatives like these are hugely appreciated at a time like this, when both residents and staff are having to adapt to a complex situation. Having Tessa really brightened up everyone’s day and brought them together. It made such a difference being a live performance, and everyone appreciated being given the chance to enjoy a musical interlude from such a talented singer.”
Performances follow all the current government guidelines on live performance.
Arts Together is very grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for the funding provided for its work.