Connecting Through Culture As We Age

Connecting through culture as we age: arts and technology collaborations to support healthy ageing – identifying scalable and sustainable design improvements to homes that provide support for healthy cognitive ageing, allowing people to continue living in their homes for longer.



Lead Organisation

University of Bristol


South West (England)


Social Support Connections

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About the project

This research project tackles the complex problem of how to increase participation in social and cultural life for all as we age which has been shown to make a vital contribution to raising quality of life. The project will address the fundamental issue that arts and cultural participation drops dramatically in older populations and that disabled, Black, Asian and minority ethnic and older people living in poverty are even less likely to participate. It will tackle inequalities related to accessibility and content of digital arts and cultural provision, enable vital R&D and establish new business models to encourage digital innovation in the arts and cultural sector to support healthy ageing. Arts and cultural organisations have been slow to adopt digital innovation, but there is huge potential in using emerging technologies to enable diversification of content and build new older audiences. The pandemic has increased the urgency to harness digital technologies to enhance the accessibility and content of cultural participation so that those who are socially isolated may be able to benefit, increasing their quality of life.

The impact of the project will be include: disabled, Black, Asian and minority ethnic and older audiences living in poverty participating in digital arts and cultural experiences that will support their social connections and contribute to improved quality of life; provision of vital R&D support for collaborations between cultural and technology sectors in designing digital innovations, helping them prosper and thus contributing to regional and national sectoral growth; supporting creative industries to build a better understanding of diverse older audiences and to robustly evaluate their offer; and new evidence based policy making that tackles inequalities in arts and cultural provision for healthy ageing outcomes.

The project will involve an interdisciplinary team working alongside the cultural sector, creative technology partners and communities of ‘next generation’ older people (i.e. aged 60-75 years) to understand older people’s experiences of digital exclusion, and what they value culturally and socially. This knowledge will then inform the co-design of digitally driven cultural experiences that ‘support social connections’. The research will involve designing a new tool to measure the impact of digital cultural experiences on social connectivity for healthy ageing. The audience research will enable new understandings of digitally experienced cultural value, that takes account of older age and inequalities. It will provide robust evidence of how the cultural products we design can potentially contribute to next generation older people enjoying at least five extra healthy, independent years of life.


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