ADD370 Capital Age Festival 2015

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
14 December 2015
Decision by: 
Paul Igbokwe, Head of Public and Community Liaison

Executive summary

Capital Age Festival (CAF) began in 2002 and since their inception the GLA has supported the organisation. Their festivals have grown from a one day event at Coin Street to a 2 week pan-London older people’s arts festival that reached over 25,000 people every year.  

This year CAF will be targeting a new group of older people and to focus its work more on delivering sustainable creative projects in areas where there are few cultural opportunities for vulnerable and isolated elders such as care homes.  The recipients will be physically inactive and socially isolated. 

The focus will be to offer a high quality and innovative introduction to the arts. To do this they will involve local volunteers and in turn will reduce loneliness and isolation, develop new creative skills, enhance self-esteem and improve health outcomes for all their participants.


The Assistant Director approves expenditure of up to £13,681 in 2015-16 for the award of grant funding to Capital Age Festival as a contribution towards the design, creative and infrastructure costs of the mini festivals across London.  

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    Capital Age Festival (CAF) began in 2002 and since their inception, the GLA has supported the organisation and its annual festivals from their early beginnings at the Coin Street site, moving through partnerships with major players in older people’s arts, regularly reaching 25,000 people every year.  {Please see ADD20} Please note that the in 2014/15 the board focused on consulting and researching the new ideas for the 2015/16 festival.

1.2    In autumn 2014, the Board agreed to target those most vulnerable and denied of cultural activity and to focus its work more on delivering sustainable creative projects in areas where there are few cultural opportunities for vulnerable and isolated elders such as care homes.   

1.3    Some London boroughs such as Islington offer older people innovative arts provision from imaginative sources.  Other boroughs such as Brent, Barnet and Hillingdon do not offer the same access. With financial help from Arts Council England (ACE) CAF received an organisational development grant in 2015 to configure access to the London’s older peoples’ arts scene.  

Organisational Development

1.4    CAF are already currently undertaking the following tasks to locate the recipients, volunteers and care homes. 

•    Mapping areas in London with little arts provision for vulnerable elders across music and dance
•    Building partnerships (care homes, day centres, residential care settings, health providers)
•    Strengthening governance by undertaking a skills audit, training and recruitment drive
•    Developing a volunteer strategy 

CAF partners

1.5    We have identified, through our Trustees, organisations with existing successful initiatives, run with and by elders, who wish to deliver work in partnership with CAF:

•    Clair Chapwell and Bolder Voices – a successful and pioneering elders art group in Brent
•    Karen Taylor and Singing for Breathing at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust – an acclaimed singing for respiratory health group in Hillingdon and Chelsea
•    Estelle Buckhurst and the Arts Depot in Barnet, with significant experience with Ladder to the Moon, the innovative company who bring drama to care homes working with people with dementia 

Mini Festivals

Research and Development

1.6    This period of research and development allows them to develop the partnerships through direct delivery but importantly also facilitates further consultation directly with older participants.  Once a key host partner in each area, CAF will utilise a community development approach to build further partnerships with other local CVS organisations and to identify local volunteers.

1.7    In each borough, a CAF project manager will make initial contact with care homes, meeting residents and care staff. They will explore the area adjacent to the care home, using information from the mapping consultant to locate other groups of older people who might like to be involved in the project.  A key part of this will also be to start the process of recruiting local “older enablers” – who we will train up to work alongside CAF to sustain their activities beyond the duration of the funding. 

Training Volunteers and evaluation 

1.8    CAF would like to target older volunteers from ages 65-75. They will have the opportunity themselves to try new things, meet new people within their community and learn new skills. 
By involving volunteers it will not only strengthen their work but also ensures it is more sustainable and longer term.

1.9    There will be two half-day sessions in a local community venue to train the volunteers to ensure they are confident and knowledgeable about the programme and audience.  They will also be taught activities, songs and dancing, all to be used at the festivals. 

1.10    This training will start as soon as possible. 

1.11    CAF are determined that the CAF borough festivals are not one-offs and that some legacy be left.  Therefore, 2 artists and a project manager will visit weekly for a day over 4 weeks, culminating in a one day sharing event for friends and families.  They will bring their volunteers to meet participants and support project delivery.  They also envisage the running of smaller group sessions, specifically poetry writing, story writing, crafts or different kinds of exercise.

1.12    Throughout the borough festival they expect to engage with at least 30 older people in each venue, offering a high quality and intimate arts experience for those that would not otherwise have experienced access to the arts.  Artists will encourage participants to invite friends and family to the sharing event.  On day 5, both artists and all volunteers and contacts will be there to create a very special day for the venue.  

1.13    As always, the programme will be fully documented from initial planning through to the final show piece at the end of the festival in each venue. The team will keep a reflective diary along with volunteers and care staff. 

1.14    CAF will also photograph the events and blog about the projects on their new site. They also intend to use NHS approved evaluation forms to capture self-reported data, before, during and at the end of the project.

1.15    The table (appendix 1) illustrates the proposed expenditure and funding for the mini festivals;




Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The objective of the borough festivals is to bring art and culture to groups of older people that would not normally have access to them. Furthermore, CAF will celebrate the creative talents of older people and to empower isolated and disengaged older Londoners to participate and enjoy the arts.

2.2    The boroughs are specifically targeted due to their lack of arts provision for older people. The festivals will also take place in non-traditional arts venues as CAF believe they should take the arts directly to older people. The project will establish a network of volunteers with new skills and experience to carry on working with older people in their local communities.

2.3    CAF borough festivals will also 

o    have a legacy all year around to highlight the importance that older people play in arts and culture

o    engage some of London’s most vulnerable and isolated citizens

o    Support older women and men in London to develop their interests in creativity

o    Develop their ambition to create a sustainable arts engagement and participation strategy for older people 

o    Develop local projects with minority groups with the aim of developing a template to support future projects across London boroughs

o    Engage a team or 30 volunteers to aid with the successful running of the programme


Equality comments

3.1    CAF activities will be predominantly aimed at older people but will be accessible to all ages. Community inclusion will be promoted throughout the activities, and participation in collaborative, creative projects will encourage active citizenship and wider participation in community life regardless of characteristics.

3.2    There will be a range of opportunities to build the capacity of individuals and strengthen community ties, for example, through volunteering and signposting opportunities for progression. The event encourages older people’s participation in cultural and leisure activities, which has been shown to enhance quality of life by enabling physical and mental stimulation, and by providing access to social networks. The recipients will be diverse and wide ranging that will be selected as a result of their inactivity and isolation, not race, religion or belief. Many of the attendees of the festivals will be disabled and there aims to be an equal distribution of men and women.

Other considerations

4.1       ‘An Age Friendly London? - How Far Has London Come?’ was commissioned by the GLA and launched by Kings College in Mach 2015. The report looks at what makes a city age friendly and how age friendly London is. CAF would certainly add to a more positive ageing experience for older Londoners.

4.2       CAF also ties in very closely to Mayoral priorities around reducing health inequalities, volunteering, encouraging sports/cultural participation and celebrating London’s diversity, including for hard to reach groups.  It will showcase the talents of a community that rarely takes centre stage.


4.3       CAF has had great success and a sterling track record in engaging with older people. They have met deadlines, provided us with all necessary paper work and have delivered projects extremely well. This year's festival has a different angle and requires a lot of volunteers. The sustainability of this project could therefore be hard as the volunteers will become older, perhaps experience ill health and they themselves become less mobile. We are however funding a project that have only committed to a few months of work so the likely hood of not being able to sustain a project, buy in from care homes or recruiting volunteers for the time they have selected is reasonable.

4.4       The project will be monitored and funds will be released upon the agreed milestones.

4.5       CAF have managed to secure another £3,000 from Arts England, Bolder Voices Choir and Hillingdon Arts. In the situation where the event is reduced or does not take place, the GLA will not be liable in any way as it is not underwriting the event.

4.6       The risk is therefore considered fairly minimal.

Financial comments

5.1    The grant funding of £13,681 will be resourced from the existing 2015/16 Public Liaison programme budget. In the event that additional expenditure is required, further approval will be sought via the Authority’s decision making process.

Planned delivery approach and next steps




Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]


Announcement [if applicable]

December 2016

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

January 2016

Final evaluation start and finish (self/external) [delete as applicable]:

April 2016

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

April 2016

Project Closure: [for project proposals]

May 2016


Appendices and supporting papers

Appendix 1 - Expenditure and funding for the mini festivals