This chapter considers the role of participation in community arts as a means of promoting greater social engagement by older people. It considers the contribution of community-based activities in general and emphasises that they should be considered part of a broader programme to enhance the quality of lives of residents of disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It then considers in detail the impact of one specific community arts project, detailing the enthusiastic reaction of the participants but also highlighting the need to ensure ongoing support and the need to recognise the central role of the facilitator. It concludes by re-emphasising the importance of promoting control of such community initiatives by the local residents.
This chapter discusses the narratives of ageing, looking at how older people can reflect on their lives and explore new opportunities. This concern with how older people represent themselves, and are represented by others, is a relatively new one in gerontology. On the other hand, images of old age and especially ageing bodies have such a powerful and largely negative impact on social attitudes to older people. The NDA authors seek to challenge this point of view by developing transformative narratives through participation in a range of arts-related activities including reading, art appreciation, community arts, and photography. This chapter examines five path-breaking NDA projects where older people actively engaged with the dominant cultural narratives of ageing. It also explores more positive and personally enriching narratives which demonstrate creativity and opened up numerous new possibilities for them.