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Age-friendly Case Study: Spike Island

23 Sep 2019

Part of our recent age-friendly work has included launching a toolkit for local businesses which has included top tips as well as local case studies of organisations already working hard to become age-friendly. 

"At Spike Island, we’re passionate about making art accessible to all. We are aware that older people can sometimes feel that contemporary art isn’t for them, and approachability is always at the forefront of how we advertise ourselves and communicate with visitors. We know that first impressions matter, and have designed our front of house space to be welcoming to everyone. Automatic glass doors create a clear and fully accessible entryway, and visitors are greeted by front desk staff as well as having the chance to pick up exhibition guides, and stop and rest on the comfy sofa outside the gallery if they wish. We produce largeprint versions of our guides, and all of our literature is printed with accessibility in mind, with sansserif font and clean backgrounds.

Our staff and volunteers receive training on how to respond to visitors’ physical access needs, as well as to maximise their enjoyment of the art through conversation that sparks their imagination. Supporting older visitors and audiences is a specific part of this, and all of our team members represent our ethos that contemporary art is created by and for people of all ages.

Our café is a great spot for people to discuss their experience of the exhibition or activity they’ve 
attended, and we’re also keen for it to be used as a community hub in its own right. We organise regular events in this space, including a monthly art-making session, which is well attended by older people who choose to attend alone or with friends.

Many of our resident artists are over 50, and we offer them the chance to display their work at our annual open studios events. We also host Spike Print Studio, which provides a creative environment and technical support for artists working in print. The older volunteers and printmakers bring a wealth of experience of different techniques. We are pleased that many over 50s have joined our Associates programme, which gives members access to a communal, creative workspace.

Our website uses the same simple design style that makes our printed materials easy and enjoyable to read, and includes a detailed page explaining how to get here by all means of transport. It also states that the building is entirely wheelchair accessible and welcoming to assistance dogs, and includes contact details in case of extra enquiries. On all of the pages, we’ve ensured that the photographs we’ve chosen reflect the diversity of Spike Island’s community of visitors, staff and volunteers."



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