Forget Me Not Initiative Launched at Edinburgh Theatres

Enjoying A Clean Sweep. Photo by Greg Mcvean

Edinburgh’s Festival and King’s Theatres have launched Forget Me Not, a pioneering project designed to create dementia-friendly communities at the heart of our cultural venues.

Funded by Scottish charity the Life Changes Trust, Forget Me Not aims to make the Festival and King’s Theatres accessible, inviting venues for people living with dementia and their families.It will identify what these audiences want from their theatre experiences, what the challenges are for people living with dementia to attending their local theatres and what can be done to support and encourage this valuable social activity.

A series of events in October 2015

Forget Me Not will launch with a series of events in October 2015 at The Studio at the Festival Theatre, programmed as part of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival.

Events will include a performance of intergenerational theatre show Grandad & Me, a Tea Dance and a 1940s-themed dance performance by students at Performing Arts Studio Scotland. These events are free but ticketed through the Box Office, open to all ages and designed to create a relaxed environment where families and carers can enjoy live performance together – and eat cake.

In close consultation with people living with dementia and their carers

Forget Me Not will work closely with research partners including Alzheimer Scotland, Stirling University and the University of the West of Scotland, and in close consultation with people living with dementia and their carers to develop templates on how to make an arts venue dementia-friendly – templates that will be shared with arts organisations across the UK to help create an industry standard.

Forget Me Not Co-ordinator Paul Hudson. who is leading the project, has worked as a performer, director and stage manager in the performing arts for a number of years. He has managed his own singing teaching and vocal practice business, worked as a Singing Lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and most recently was the Co-ordinator of the Musical Memories project for Alzheimer Scotland.

“The most important lesson I’ve learnt is that the smallest amount of support can make the biggest difference to people’s lives,” said Paul. “It’s about making it easier for people who are used to coming to the theatre to keep on coming to the theatre.”

“That, surely, is what theatre is all about”

Jane, one of the Forget Me Not Champions and a carer for her husband since he was diagnosed, added: “This is a wonderful, far-seeing initiative. It gives people diagnosed with dementia the opportunity to participate and also for their continued inclusion in a wider society. That, surely, is what theatre is all about.”

The Life Changes Trust

The Life Changes Trust was established by the Big Lottery Fund in April 2013 to support improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people affected by dementia and young people with experience of being in care.

Over the next three years, the Life Changes Trust will invest around £3 million in establishing and supporting a variety of Dementia Friendly Community initiatives across Scotland.