Ageless Updates

Our annual Ageless campaign supports all the work we do for people who may not find it easy to get involved in theatre.

It costs £100,000 a year to run this amazing programme of events and activities and, as a registered charity we rely on the generosity of people like you to help us. 

We have been bowled over by the generosity of our audience members, our Friends and the general public. Your support has helped us to provide life-changing experiences for people who might otherwise miss out, and helped to enrich people’s lives with the joy of creative expression, socialising and the treat of seeing a show!

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In 2020 we are linking up with Giving Tuesday's #GiveBack2020 campaign for a chance to take something positive from 2020 and make a difference at the same time! 

Looking forwards 

Through our work in 2020, we have gained insights which will inform what we do in 2021. Particularly important is that the amount of high quality and meaningful arts engagement within Care Homes is still low, and may remain this way for some time if the work isn’t able to adapt to these changing times. Our recent projects have proved that digital and remote work within Care Homes is possible – though it does largely depend on the technical capabilities and set-up within each home. Most importantly, arts engagement is a powerful tool, even when participants aren’t able to be in the same room as each other.

In November 2020, some initial groundwork began to expand our dementia friendly programme with Care Homes and individuals being cared for at home, based on the learning from previous projects. We will look to explore ways to encourage arts engagement within care settings whilst COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. 

2020 Updates

While Festival 2020 was cancelled in the aftermath of COVID-19, our Learning, Education and Participation (LEAP) continued the vital outreach to our local communities in these incredibly challenging times. This was significantly enabled by donations to the Ageless campaign. 

Here are just some of the ways your support has helped us support our community:

Elders Company

As part of Festival 2020, we had planned our first Elders Company project inspired by the themes in Penelope Skinner's play The Village Bike. Due to the pandemic, we had to rethink the way we delivered this work.

After an application process open to anyone aged 55+, eight participants were invited to work with our LEAP team and a professional writer to create and perform original monologues. Sessions were supported by CFT’s Senior Community and Outreach Manager, and professional Actor/Writer Simon Cotton. The monologues were filmed by the participants themselves On 19 June, which would have been our press night for The Village Bike, we were pleased to share their work via YouTube

It was an unusual project and creative challenge and therefore a wonderful distraction. It was also a chance to ‘meet’ (virtually) others and NOT talk about the pandemic but focus on what we needed to achieve as a group. I think it raised my spirits for weeks, actually

Elders Company participant

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked on this project and to utilise and extend the dramatic skills I have gained through attending courses at CFT

Elders Company participant

There was a social aspect to it which as someone “shielding” was a great bonus. It could not have come at a better time!

Elders Company participant

CFT Buddies: Weekly Calls

During lockdown, while performances were cancelled, nine of CFT’s Buddies became Weekly Callers, volunteering to keep in touch with some of our more isolated audience members and participants. These calls offered much needed company, kept spirits high and signposted individuals to further support if required. Some users continue to receive calls and to date over 200 individual phone calls have been made, totalling almost 100 hours of call time.

CFT Buddies is a volunteer companion service for those who might benefit from having someone accompany them during their visit to the Theatre. Whether you need support because of a learning or physical difficulty, or you find the idea of going to the Theatre on your own daunting, a CFT Buddy can give you the extra confidence you need and can enjoy the show with you.

When CFT’s doors reopened to audiences for Autumn 2020 (before the renewed lockdown), the CFT Buddies scheme, with additional COVID-safe measures in place, was once again up and running.

If, in the future, you would like to attend a performance with the support of a Buddy, or to arrange a time to meet one of our Buddies for a social cup of tea in the Theatre’s Café or if you know someone who might benefit from this service, please visit our webpagefor more information and an online form.

I am very touched by the thoughtfulness and kindness of the Team at CFT. How lucky are we to have such a very special and brilliant theatre in this area

Weekly Call Scheme User

I have loved my weekly phone call from my beloved CFT, which has played a major part in my life for so long. What a wonderful idea and how thoughtful

Weekly Call Scheme User

CFT Buddies is made possible by the kind support of Rathbones

Stand By You

In April we received a request from Chichester's Wellington Grange care home to send letters, artwork and messages of support from young people to residents who were unable to have visitors. As part of her Gold Arts Award, our Community Outreach Trainee Ella began encouraging Youth Theatre members to create content that could be shared with several local care homes with whom we work on a regular basis.

After just one week, a group of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre members had banded together to record this acapella version of Stand By Me from their respective homes.

In total 45 CFYT members submitted pieces of art (dances, poetry, songs, drawings etc) which were used to create three films which were shared with seven care homes. The videos also received over 17,000 views on our social media channels.

After that first video, CFYT members kept busy sending in further messages of support to residents of local care homes: sharing more of their musical, poetic and artistic talents and helping to keep smiles on the residents' faces.

It’s been lovely to develop the relationships between us and the residents at Wellington Grange and I really hope that once this is all over I can go and meet them

CFYT Participant

It has been not only lovely to produce work and songs for people who we understand are even more isolated then us at the moment, but also to stay connected with my theatre friends and it was lovely to feel that we could work together even when we are apart

CFYT Participant

Dementia Friendly Work

CFT has run a significant programme of Dementia Friendly work since becoming a Dementia Friendly Theatre in 2014. Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, this important work has continued and we have delivered a range of participatory projects and schemes for people living with dementia to take part in and feel engaged with the work of the Theatre.

During the past 12 months this has included:

Mind, Body, Sing 

Between November and March, we delivered 15 Dementia Friendly singing sessions at Augusta Court Care Home in Chichester, for between 20-30 participants.

Positive Thinkers 

CFT hosted a private backstage tour for Chichester and Bognor Positive Thinkers, a social group for individuals living with dementia organised by the Alzheimer’s Society. The group were given a tour of the Festival Theatre and asked for their feedback on how the venue and its services could be more dementia friendly. There was lots of interest in the upcoming Dementia Friendly performance of South Pacific, which has been postponed to 2021.

Pre-Show Singing 

Ahead of the matinee performance of The Bluejays: Rock and Roll Revolution in January, a dementia friendly singing event ran in the foyer, inviting audience members to join in with well-known and well-loved hits from the 1950s.

Ageless Week 2020 

This year’s Ageless Week celebrations moved online, with both a Dementia Friends Session and a free Mind, Body, Sing session being delivered remotely via Zoom and Facebook Live respectively. We were overwhelmed with the response to this unconventional Ageless Week, with a social media reach of over 60,000 impressions!

Ageless - 2019

Get Into It

Over the past year, since Giving Tuesday 2018, we have provided 180 sessions of our adult learning service Get Into It, with an average of 110 participants weekly. 2019 saw our first ever Script Lab, a course for more advanced playwrights, culminating in script-in-hand reading events in the final two weeks of the summer term.

CFT Buddies

This year we piloted a new transport element, working with community companion service Driving Miss Daisy, and 36 people attended performances with a CFT Buddy; we also trained 13 new volunteers and created an informational video to encourage more people to use the scheme.

The CFT Buddies Scheme is supported by Rathbones

Artist in Care Homes

A brand new dementia friendly scheme of work was piloted at Hillside Lodge Care Home in Pulborough. Artists in Care Homes was an intensive project within this specialised care setting. Georgia, the lead artist on the project, spent three months getting to know the residents and learning how best to interact with them. Together they created three ‘baskets’ containing all the necessary ingredients for ‘A Day Out’ within the comfort of the home. This is a particularly exciting area of our work and one we will be looking to expand in 2020.

Theatre Tour for the Visually Impaired

We have been working with two volunteers with sight loss to create a bespoke backstage tour of CFT for patrons who are visually impaired. A pilot of the tour received positive feedback and we hope to offer a public tour during 2020.

I had no idea how much CFT did for those with visual impairments, it’s incredible

How to Audio Describe A Play participant

Ageless Week 2019

Ageless Week included children’s events, various Play in a Day sessions, opportunities to learn the basics British Sign Language, how to audio describe a play or learn more about the theatre, as well as dancing and dementia friendly singing events, there was something for everyone. We were delighted that over 250 of you joined in, and we received some wonderful feedback.

In addition to our creative and community events, we raised over £7,000 towards Ageless campaign, so thank you very much to all who donated.

Great fun having permission to sing and make a noise

Mind, Body, Sing Yer Heart Out! participant

Immediately afterwards, my mother-in-law is very jolly and bright

Mind Body Sing! Participant

Stay tuned for more updates and feedback on our Ageless work, helping to keep theatre and live art at the heart of people’s lives, especially for older people at risk of isolation.