Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Discussion Document. Provocation and Proposal

I prepared this as much as a provocation for reflection and ideas as a draft proposal for action.  I sent it out earlier in March  to cultural and third sector organizations, university contacts and other interested parties.  Being too long for a blog post I am happy to forward it on if you comment here asking for it. 

These things are never complete; the whole purpose is you remember other arguments, new events happen and so forth.  This is the very much the purpose of this blog. So two further additions to that discussion I offer here.

Firstly, I am reminded of women who extend child bearing through their fifties and even beyond.  Nothing new here.  I have two friends who gave birth in their late forties. Medical advances have  extended these events further along the life course, simultaneously shifting the cultural structures of our lives.  But there have always been later life fathers at the school gate.

Secondly the  film maker Agnes Varda has just died.  For me she was not just such a remarkable role model within the arts and beyond.  As I have indicated, her  collaboration with the photographer and installation artist JR captured the power of creativity to subvert the boundaries society imposes on us.  This provided the inspiration for New Wave Ageing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019



As a Londoner, but resident in Bristol for the last 11 years, I have an inherent interest in this city’s  multicultural arts communities and environments.   Even if I had not taught drama in Hackney for many years, and performed in various, curious settings, these would always be my comfort zones.  Some 15 years ago I took a not unrelated shift towards sociology, ultimately gaining a PhD with the University of Bristol.  So I have grown older myself sheltering under these complimentary umbrellas.  My desire now is to connect with individuals and organizations, creative and otherwise,  who want to see positive changes, for now and for future generations, in the way we experience our  later lives.  Consistent with public policy in Bristol, these are to:-

·       Promote the cultural diversity of older men and women through the performing arts and beyond. 

·       Challenge traditional representations of later life and the ageism they perpetuate.

·       Re-present later life through the lens of authenticity and autonomy.

Now is as good time as any.  I think we’ve reached a “Time’s Up” moment, given that 2018-2019 has seen a range of pronouncements, reports and publications foregrounding the extent of ageism in our society.  This  despite the fact that age is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010. These are detailed in a discussion document I drew up for Bristol’s cultural and academic communities at the beginning of March (A separate post).

But I believe that all this is set against a failure on the part of many key organizations, and certainly the media, to recognize the complex, cultural diversity that characterises our lives. This is the gap we need to fill and hence my title.  My generation (I’m 67) has grown up and grown older with successive ‘new waves’ in the arts all of which have stood the test of time.  I am also mindful of the recent and acclaimed collaboration between that icon of the French New Wave in cinema, Agnes Varda, now in her ninetieth decade, and the photographer JR. Their work “Faces Places” captures the power of creativity across generations erasing our preconceptions of ageing and the life course.

So this blog is intended as a space to better explain my thinking, to connect with those of us who want to make stuff happen, to update readers on national and local events and performances and to provide a forum for discussion.

With thanks – Jo Cross

                                             Image: Ka-rel Headley