The London Borough of Lewisham was presented with a Hearts for the Arts award by BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning actress Olivia Colman. Lewisham won the Best Local Authority Arts Project Encouraging Community Cohesion for Meet Me at The Albany.
The awards are a new initiative by What Next? and the National Campaign for the Arts to reward and thank Councils, Councillors and Council officers who are overcoming financial challenges to ensure the arts stay at the centre of community life.
Meet Me at the Albany grew out of a question shared by Lewisham senior managers with two local arts partners, the Albany and Entelechy Arts: what if frail, isolated older people had the opportunity to go to an arts centre instead of a day centre? Three years later there are now over 100 older people engaged in arts activities every week. The journalist Tanya Gold wrote: ‘This is either a unique experiment in provision for the elderly, if you write like a bureaucrat, or something as lovely and hopeful as a poem.’
Samuel West, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts and one of the Awards’ judges, said:
“Social care budgets are being slashed and art can help. Bringing isolated older people together at an arts centre is a brilliant idea and I hope other local authorities across the country will be inspired to try something similar.”
Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham said:
“Meet Me at the Albany has changed hundreds of Lewisham residents lives for the better by giving them the chance to watch and take part in creative workshops and performances from leading artists from around the world. What started out as a local initiative has now gained national and international recognition. We’re very proud to have worked with Entelechy Arts and the Albany to create ‘Meet Me at the Albany’ which is doing so much to improve the quality of life for our residents.”