Fable Arts, in partnership with Lancashire’s dance charity, Ludus Dance, is has created a new theatre show about the future of being old. Working with students at Blackpool and Fylde College, patients at Clifton Hospital in Lytham and residents of care homes across Blackpool, ‘Oldtopia’ explores what young people want their old age to look like and what this might mean for healthcare and community settings and providers.
Alex O’Toole, Artistic Director of Fable Arts, said,
‘Oldtopia’ explores the prospect of aging from a young person’s point of view. So many public services and settings are geared up for the needs and interests of a stereotyped older person - the senior citizens of yesteryear, catering for age as it was, rather than catering for age as it is now, or age as it will be when today’s teenagers reach later life.
People today are living longer than ever before. By 2041, the population of aged 65 and older in Fylde is projected to increase to around 56,855. This means 68.5% of Fylde’s population will be of pension age or older, so I think we have a real responsibility to understand as much as we can about the needs, interests and expectations of our local, growing ageing population so we can start to influence what is put in place to help people live comfortable, independent and impactful lives for as long as possible in our advancing years.
It’s time to think differently about getting old and I can’t wait to learn how the students at Blackpool and Fylde College will challenge our notions of age and, of course, their own notions of age too.”
Anthony Briggs, Co-Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Ludus Dance, said,
“People want to be involved in decisions about their lives, whatever age they are, Oldtopia is a great opportunity to look ahead at what our lives might be like and what might be needed to enable today’s young people to live the lives they want and deserve as an 80, 90, or even a 100 year old.”
Jason Flannigan, Head of Service at Clifton Hospital, said,
“Our elderly population on the Fylde Coast is increasing and our services (both health and social care) need to adapt and change to accommodate this increase. There is a focus through the NHS Long Term Plan in developing more services in the community that will further support the aging population to live at home for longer. There is a desire to adopt a proactive approach to the care that is provided in the community setting that wraps around a person’s need. We are focussing on helping people stay healthy in later life so that they age well. At Clifton Hospital and across our community services we are keen to develop our services to meet the needs of the population here on the Fylde Coast.
“We look forward to being involved in the “Oldtopia” project to help us understand what the needs of the future elderly population might be. We are always open to trying new things that will help and support our patients. Listening to patients and getting feedback from them about future service provision is fundamental to enable us to plan and shape future services. The hospital has been involved in the previous projects undertaken and both staff and patients really enjoyed being part of these.”
As well as creating development opportunities, Oldtopia provides Blackpool and Fylde College performing arts students with experience of working alongside some of Lancashire’s best professional writers, dancers, musicians, costume and set designers.
Sam Stenton, Performing Arts Senior Tutor for Teaching and Learning at Blackpool and Fylde College, said,
Blackpool and The Fylde College Performing Arts tutor Sam Stenton said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to not only get involved in all aspects of theatre production - from designing sets and costumes to writing music - but also to gain invaluable employability skills by working alongside industry experts.
"Students are excited to have the opportunity to work on Oldtopia and to explore how to express their thoughts about aging and how the subject will be handled in the future."
The £22K project has been funded by Arts Lancashire and Arts Council England. The work created will be showcased by Blackpool and Fylde College students through a series of performances at healthcare settings across Blackpool and Fylde at the end of November including Blackpool Hospital on Thursday 21st November and at a special performance at the Lancashire Arts Exchange in Morecambe on 22nd November. Documentary evaluation activity from the project will also be shared online and with healthcare providers.
Esther Ferry-Kennington, Chair of Arts Lancashire, said,
“We’re pleased to be able contribute to Oldtopia and the continuation of The Archive of Ageing programme, as it connects to our ongoing work to trial new ways of Lancashire arts organisations working with the health and wellbeing sectors to address medical, physical and emotional issues faced by Lancashire residents.”
Oldtopia is the third project in a programme of work called, ‘The Archive of Ageing’ developed by Fable Arts in collaboration with Ludus Dance. The Archive of Ageing is a programme of creative exploration into ageing and the issues facing older people and our future society. The programme was created by Fable Arts in response to Pfizer's research about the world's ageing population and, on a local level, the research undertaken by Lancashire County Council about the demographic shift that will take place in Fylde over the next thirty years.
The central focus of The Archive of Ageing is to use creativity to rethink this stage of life and to explore what living well might mean for the growing fourth generation and the over 65's of the future with the intention of identifying what measures we can take individually, and as a community, to help us stay healthy, mobile, productive and comfortable into our extended old age.
Previous projects in The Archive of Ageing programme looked at living with dementia and the impact of introducing creativity activities to people who have been in hospital for a long periods. Their work on ‘Wonder-Full’, an on-ward creative activity programme, was nominated for an NHS Innovation award.