Dementia, Diversity and the Arts

Image of the Zoom event Dementia, Diversity and the Arts

All are invited to watch the recording of this special event, which celebrated the important role of art and creativity in the lives of people living with dementia. We explored how art can help those living with dementia communicate and connect, and enhance mental health and emotional wellbeing. There was a strong focus on diversity, opening a dialogue on how art, theatre and music can help people live well with dementia, personalise support, and reach underrepresented communities.

Watch the presentations by guest speakers below, who came along and shared their experiences. The presentations were followed by roundtable discussions for attendees to collaboratively explore themes raised in the presentations, share their learning and discuss examples of good practice. 

This was a partnership event organised by Essex Cultural Diversity Project and Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Programme.

About our Guest Speakers

Picture of Mike Clarke from the Alzheimers Society

Mike Clarke, Independent Age

Event host

Our host for the event is Mike Clarke, Head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Independent Age, and until recently EDI Manager at Alzheimer’s Society. | Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Alzheimer’s Society

picture of Mary Kennedy

Dr Mary Kennedy, University of Essex

Presentation title: The Arts, Education & Dementia: Time to Get Creative

Mary is a mental health nurse with many years’ experience working in the NHS. During her career  she held a variety of roles before leaving in 2016 to join the School of Health & Social Care at the University of Essex as a part-time lecturer.

She has a wide range of clinical, research and academic experience and in leading service development and innovation. She has published reports and articles on a range of topics and contributed books chapters on subjects related to nursing and mental health.

Her specific interest is dementia care and in developing services to improve the delivery of care for people with dementia and their families.  Within the University she has led on the development of dementia education for health and social care practitioners in the NHS and the private sector.

Mary is currently the Lead for Service User Engagement in the School and has a particular interest in the  role of creative arts in dementia education and the use of storytelling to improve healthcare outcomes.

Picture of Art Prashar

Arti Prashar: artist, director and producer

Presentation title: From The Garden to Love Unspoken

Arti stepped down as Spare Tyre’s Artistic Director/CEO in August 2019 after inspirational and acclaimed leadership for 19 years. She developed inclusive creative practice championing diverse voices. She is at the forefront of immersive sensory theatre practice for people living with dementia and learning disabled people. She has a strong commitment to collaborative theatre with values based on fundamental human rights.

Tonic Award 2020 (inclusion and diversity)
Winston Churchill Fellow 2013 (spirituality, dementia and ageing)
Research Fellow at the Centre of Contemporary Theatre at Birkbeck University.
Trustee for Collective Encounters and Creative Youth

T: @artiprashar

Spare Tyre Theatre – Arti Prashar’s Love Unspoken

A picture of Ronald Amaze, who will be talking at our event Dementia, Diversity and the Arts

Ronald Amanze

Presentation title: Making a New Language: Dementia, Music and Me

Ronald, founder of Talk Dementia, is a Black Dementia Champion with the Alzheimer’s Society, a Dementia Diarist with DEEP, an Ambassador for The Stroke Association, and a Trustee of Arts 4 Dementia. He is working to ensure there is better provision for the BAME communities in dementia service and more involvement from BAME communities in dementia research. A musician and music producer by background he is passionate about the role of creativity in improving the quality of life experience for all living with dementia.

In 2013 Ronald had a stroke which resulted in a brain injury and in 2015 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Following a long period of recovery with the support of Headway, along with various social workers and the Alzheimer’s Society, Ronald has learned to manage his health concerns and now he is committed to championing health awareness using the medium of music and creative expression.

Ronald Amanze talks to Alzheimer’s Society about music and dementia

Roundtable discussions: a collaborative enquiry (not recorded)

Using the presentations as a springboard for discussion, the talks were followed by online roundtable sessions provided an opportunity for attendees to explore themes raised in the presentations, network with each other, and share their learning and examples of good practice. Roundtable discussions were hosted by friends and partners of ECDP and Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Programme, including:

    • Shuhala Abbas, Dementia Support Worker, Redbridge South Asian Services
    • Essex-based author Sade Fadipe
    • Penny Hodgkinson and Marty Jacobs from the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex
    • Mark Neville, Essex Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator (Mid & South Essex), Alzheimer’s Society
    • Pradip Mistry, Chair of Thurrock Dementia Action Alliance / international speaker, writer and new lifestyle coach
    • Christian Nweke, Harlow Dementia Action Alliance, and Dementia Ward Princess Alexander Hospital
    • Ian Wilson, Dementia Activities Coordinator, NetPark Wellbeing, Metal & Southend Borough Council Mental Health Project


Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. For this event, Dementia Friends have teamed up with the Essex Cultural Diversity Project to particularly engage with the less represented members of our communities to bring the message across, build bridges and strengthen relationships in order to work together, co-designing future services that are culturally appropriate to meet the needs of our Black Asian Minority Ethnic communities.


Essex Cultural Diversity Project vision is to energise cultural diversity in arts and heritage, in Essex and beyond. We aim to stimulate participation and provide a focal point for the development, celebration and co-ordination of cultural diversity through arts and heritage activity. This event will mark the start of a long-term partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Programme, as part of our focus on health, diversity and the arts.

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