LUMINATE began in 2012 with a festival. It no longer runs one but remains a co-ordinating force dealing with and promoting artists who are nearer to my own age than I would ever like to admit.

During a catch-up with its director, Anne Gallacher, it became clear Luminate still has two things nestled in its heart – art and the right for us all to access it.

On its origins, Gallacher said: “Our founding partners – Creative Scotland, Age Scotland and the Baring Foundation – were saying, ‘We know we are an ageing society and know the positive impact of being involved in creativity, whilst as we get older, cultural engagement actually decreases.

READ MORE: Pat Kane - How much should we be spending on the climate crisis?

“‘We know there is work going on. Let’s showcase it, help develop it, celebrate it and inspire and encourage growth. That was the kernel of ‘let’s have a festival’. We were getting a positive response. By 2019 we decided we were going to become a year-round organisation that would focus on the development of creative ageing work.”

The National: Erskine Home Luminate Sculpture Trail Launch..Photograph by Jamie me on Facebook @jwilliamsonpix.+44 (0) 7989

Developing artist support is something on which Gallacher is very keen: “We have run bursary programmes for older emerging artists. We get a lot of people applying who say, ‘I wanted to do this when I was young’. They get to a later point in their life and want to go back and develop it at a higher level.

“It’s amazing to watch people flourish and grow at something they wanted to do and didn’t have the chance. Christine Thynne, based in Edinburgh, is 80. She worked as a physio all her life and joined an over-60s dance class at Dance Base after she retired. Obviously, she had a physical life but she hadn’t danced and is now developing as a choreographer.

“She has managed to get money from Creative Scotland and is developing a professional piece All being well, it will go on tour, taking her work, thinking and life experience to audiences. That’s amazing.”

It’s an example of what creative ageing means to the organisation. Gallacher said: “We interpret creative ageing with a rights-based approach. We want people of all ages to be able to access creativity regardless of ambition.

“If somebody wants to join a local choir, someone in a care home wants to take part or in their 60s discovers a talent they want to take into professional practice, they should all be able to do that. We provide a platform for people to network, learn from each other and share their expertise and experience. It’s very exciting and important.”

READ MORE: Loch Tay developers apply for golf cart garage on affordable homes land

Gallacher continues: “I do worry that as a society and maybe even as an arts sector we slip into thinking that being involved in the arts as we get older is all about our health. Being involved in this work is good for us all. There is some work that is very specifically health-orientated and we do that, as do many other arts organisations. We have a very particular set of expectations. I think shaking some of that up is very important.”

There are, however, roadblocks: “Standstill grants have meant some projects have dipped a little but we have some fantastic work coming. We are about to do work with Erskine care homes, which we collaborated with for six or seven years, to find a way of telling that story, showcasing it, encouraging people to think a little bit differently about that work.”

The work with Erskine was intense. “Rather than going in, taking a workshop and leaving, we had artists arriving after breakfast and staying till teatime,” Gallacher said.“ What they were doing is one-to-one highly individualised work. They get to know the residents, families, staff, people in the later stages of dementia.

“Artists spend 15, 20 minutes doing something really personalised. We want to share that story, encouraging people to think differently about stereotypes. There are some great creative things people in the latter stages of dementia can take part in and enjoy.

“There is training around people having right of access regardless of where they are in the dementia journey, to support artists to think imaginatively and understand people who have dementia retain imagination to the very end of their lives.

READ MORE: Scotland set to call for Gaza ceasefire in demonstrations across the country

“There is another partnership: a charity called Deepness, based in Lewis, led by people with dementia. Most of the board are living with dementia. They designed, ran and managed an arts festival in Inverness in November. We are going to be working with them on a new revised version in Edinburgh this November.

“One of the things Deepness would say is we tend to think about the latter stages of the illness, and people can find themselves excluded because of that. Many people live quite well with dementia for quite some time. We don’t recognise that enough.

“This work is about putting people living with dementia at the centre, giving agency, not patronising people. That takes me back to the philosophy of that original festival. We want to provide a platform to support and nurture creative ageing practice across Scotland.”

Gallacher’s compelling passion continued as projects and initiatives continued to flow. “We have a week-long residency for six artists from refugee and other migrant backgrounds in Cove Park in Argyll and Bute [an international artists residency centre], working with the Scottish Refugee Council.

“That’s artists coming together to have the opportunity of being together as a group, having a facility – access to studio space that many refugees and migrants may not have access to easily when they are displaced.

“It’s the first time we have worked with this strand of the community. We hope we will be doing more of this work.”

Luminate has come full circle. Having begun a festival to support work out there, nurture new ways of working and develop an agenda, it is now a hub for the very best of us. It gives some of us older artists hope to hold out our hands for.