Smiling older lady holds up artistic picture

CDAN logoFounded in 2012, the Creative Dementia Arts Network (CDAN) helps artists, arts organisations and arts venues to adapt their work for people with dementia and their carers.

Improving wellbeing through the arts

OCF funded CDAN’s £10,000 Flourish project, a professional development programme for freelance arts practitioners in Oxfordshire who want to engage people with dementia in the arts. The project is upskilling singers, artists, craftsmen, dancers, actors, poets and other creative artists to be better informed about dementia, and to run their own small enterprise catering for people with these needs. After a 10-week intensive training programme, practitioners are equipped to deliver weekly participatory arts sessions as part of residencies at memory cafés, day centres, care homes or in arts venues.

A very successful arts and dementia conference was run at St Hugh’s College, welcoming 170 delegates over two days, including people with dementia and their carers, who opened and closed proceedings. Carer Gwyn was a keynote speaker, and participated in a dance masterclass with his wife Margie, who suffers from dementia. Since the conference, dancer Rhonda Sparrey and pianist Nia Williams have set up a class for 23 older people at the Christchurch Centre in Henley, working in collaboration with Age UK Oxfordshire to recruit participants.

Facilitating donors' passions

This is an example of the discreet philanthropy service OCF can offer. To meet a donor’s needs, we have a variety of options, depending on their desire for confidentiality or complete anonymity. We can tactfully match an anonymous donor to their areas of personal interest, such as in this case, where the giver’s passion was to improve wellbeing through the arts.

Lessons for OCF

CDAN’s Flourish project is a pilot for what the charity hopes will be wider and more ambitious activity. Increasingly, funders are looking to support the testing of new ideas that have come from the community, providing the basis for larger-scale and more impactful initiatives. This type of seed funding is something OCF has espoused throughout its history – incubating good ideas and providing a platform for growth. We use our experience and judgment to make prudent investments and provide pragmatic, flexible sources of funding for the best local charities.

“Katharine and her carer came and were so engaged and inspired, and developed some really strong work that somehow conveys that growth and discovery.”

CDAN practitioner

At a glance


Art, dance, acting and poetry for people with dementia

Social themes

Health and ageing

Mental health


Greater happiness and wellbeing

Better engagement with family members