Our Elders Company director, Andrew Barry, penned this poem, TOGETHER, on his journey home from Japan.

The poem expresses his initial reflections from the Arts and Ageing study trip he has just completed in Tokyo and Kyoto, hosted by British Council Japan with funding from the Baring Foundation.

TOGETHER

We bow
We listen
We nod
Our language is poetry and art
Gently we whisper in the other’s ear
We wrestle ideas.

Now we are dancers, moving through disciplines and cities and nations.
Artfully our ideas and friendships age
We learn
We notice
We give

The Spring is building
Soon we will leap
forward
And our art and age will blossom.

The UK delegation at the Tokyo Public Forum on Arts for Ageing Society.  From left to right: Jane Findlay (Head of Learning at Dulwich Picture Gallery), Julian West (Head of Open Academy at the Royal Academy of Music), Andrew Barry (Elders Programme Manager at the Royal Exchange Theatre), Catherine Cassidy (Director of Engagement at Scottish Ballet) and Abid Hussain (Director of Diversity at Arts Council England).

The UK delegation at the Tokyo Public Forum on Arts for Ageing Society.
From left to right: Jane Findlay (Head of Learning at Dulwich Picture Gallery), Julian West (Head of Open Academy at the Royal Academy of Music), Andrew Barry (Elders Programme Manager at the Royal Exchange Theatre), Catherine Cassidy (Director of Engagement at Scottish Ballet) and Abid Hussain (Director of Diversity at Arts Council England).

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At the Kyoto Public Forum on Arts and Ageing, Andrew shares a presentation about the Elders Programme at the Royal Exchange Theatre and the wider context of Age-Friendly Manchester.

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TOP Meetings start with the exchange of business cards in the traditional Japanese manner and BELOW Kumiko Yoshiko and Kuratani Makoto from the Kyoto Culture and Citizens Affairs Bureau talk to the UK delegation about a project led by a professional dancer and created with and for marginalised elders in a southern area of Kyoto.

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The beginning of the Sakura means the cherry blossom is starting to emerge in Tokyo.