GLEN MURRAYTo study community cultural engagement - UK, Portugal, USA
I was a member of most of Australia’s foremost dance companies, primarily the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company, in a career spanning over 17 years. Returning to Tasmania at the conclusion of my career I became first interested in and then fascinated by the lived experience of older adults in our society. In 2005 I founded MADE Company (Mature Artists Dance Experience) in Hobart to offer mature adults dance and theatre skills development opportunities as well as highly aesthetic performance outcomes that provide audiences with an alternative view of contemporary dance theatre and the mature body in a performance context.
The focus of my 2011 Fellowship was the study of international best practice in the cultural engagement of mature adults. In the context of a globally ageing population and the many predicted social, economic and political issues, the active cultural engagement of mature adults is becoming increasingly recognised and promoted for the many tangible physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits it offers mature adults. I had no way of knowing though as I left Australia in May 2012 just how transformative an experience my Churchill Fellowship was going to be. Within the very first few days of arriving in the UK I came to understand the idea that now motivates and inspires all of the work that I continue to do culturally with mature adults: that mature adults have a defined need for a sense of future.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
When I think or talk about my Fellowship as I often do the key excitement for me is that it did not end when I returned to Australia. Not only does what I learned inform my actions but the many relationships formed during my Fellowship continue to enhance my personal and professional life. The conversations, the sharing of information, the celebration of triumphs and the debriefs of failures all continue with my peers in the UK, Europe and the US. A true global community of passionate people determined to shift the perception of older adults from one of deficit to one of creative possibilities.