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