As a result of collaborative work with Vamos Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company launched its very first Dementia Group on Friday.

The group, which will meet every Friday afternoon at the Swan Theatre Café from 2pm, is for people with dementia run by people with dementia, alongside RSC supporters who have been inspired by their experience of Vamos Theatre’s Sharing Joy, Finding Joy and Listening with your Eyes workshop.

It’s fantastic news that the work we’ve been doing to raise awareness of people living with dementia amongst venues has led to positive changes. Over the last two years, supported by Arts Council England Strategic Touring, we’ve been helping venues to understand ways to encourage people living with dementia and their carers to the theatre. The concept of the RSC group has come from the shared vision of Ken Howard (Vamos Amigo), Michael Chakraverty (House Manager, RSC), Josefa MacKinnon (Assisted Performance Coordinator, RSC), Jill Turley (Vamos Amigo) and Hazel Ratcliffe (Vamos Theatre Health Connector).

The first session drew a broad mix of people: Michael Chakraverty commented,

I am thrilled – 15 people attended in total over the afternoon…a great start. Our work with Vamos Theatre has developed our awareness and understanding of how we can further open our buildings, events and performances to a wider audience. We believe theatre should be accessible for all, and Vamos Theatre has been invaluable in supporting us to achieve this aim through sharing experiences, training sessions and performances. We can't wait to continue the legacy of this project.”

Congratulations to the Royal Shakespeare Company on making a real practical difference to people living with dementia, and helping to break down barriers to attending the theatre. Long may it continue!