Last week, on Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 December, London’s Screen Archives hosted two events: Digital Futures Symposium and Shared Pasts Symposium. The former was focused on the digital preservation and presentation of screen heritage. The latter was an opportunity to discuss the importance of engaging communities with screen heritage and the arts, with a focus on dementia-friendly screenings and archive-based reminiscence sessions. Here we report on the events of the day at the Shared Past Symposium.
Emma Bould from the Alzheimer’s Society explained the need for the arts sector to address the growing number of people now living with Dementia, and their support networks and carers. What is more, there is a business case for venues and exhibitors to look at the opportunities surrounding art therapy and dementia screenings. With Dementia Friends training now available from the Alzheimer’s Society free of charge to institutions and individuals nationwide, now is the time to tap into a cinema audience who will benefit from attending screenings, and give something back to the community.
Malcolm Jones from Age Exchange gave insight into the different types of reminiscence sessions and art therapy projects that they have been running for a number of years. Film can work in many ways, particularly as a trigger for reminiscence, and Malcolm encouraged exhibitors and venues to run both intergenerational and age-specific events to bring communities together. Like Emma, Malcolm introduced a range of training that is available for venue staff and the wider community, in particular reminiscence based activities and tailored training programmes.
Jake Berger from BBC Archives joined the Symposium to introduce BBC RemArc, the impressive digital resource of archival film, images and audio recordings that is currently available free to use for all non-commercial purposes across the UK. This fantastic resource was described by Jake as a cultural and social memory bank of the UK and it includes footage spanning the last century which can be incorporated into a wide range of reminiscence-lead activities and workshops. The new version will be launching in January 2017, and will be an open-source system that operates on all platforms.
London’s Screen Archives’ current project London: A Bigger Picture, has enabled us to reach groups in thirteen of London’s Outer Boroughs with special reminiscence screenings using archive film. Storm Patterson from Film London, shared some of her key learnings and experiences from the scheme, such as curatorial considerations in editing, using open questions to encourage a relaxed safe space for discussion and incorporating related ephemera to accompany the screenings, often with support from LSA’s network of partner archives.
A fascinating case study was presented by Jonny Tull from Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, who took us through their pioneering journey to become a fully dementia-friendly venue. Their project, which has now received funding for another three years, has seen the venue adapted to suit visitors with a range of different needs, and run fortnightly dementia-friendly screenings.
The Shared Pasts Symposium was an opportunity for members from the care, heritage, arts and film cultural sectors to come together to share ideas and experiences and inspire the next wave of initiatives. Thank you to our event supporters: Creative Skillset, R3:store Studios and The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund.