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Centre for Culture and the Arts 

Ageing and Gender in Culture

Exploring the effects of gender and ageing on women in the cultural industries and examining how ageing affects imagination of the future in speculative fiction.

Ageing and Gender in Culture

The challenge

How can we challenge the workings of ageism in the cultural industries, given that there is an invisibility of older women performers in the UK and there is evidence of women performers’ careers stalling when they reach their 40s and 50s?

How can we include greater academic consideration of age and ageing in imagining the future?

 

The Approach 

Gender and Ageing in the Cultural Industries began in 2019 with a pilot project working with RepresentAge theatre group, who were in rehearsal for a new play that seeks to challenge attitudes to women and ageing in theatre.

We conducted a focus group with four of the women actors, aged from 50 to 70, all of whom are experienced in stage and screen work in the UK and the US. We focus on the overarching theme of ‘experiences of ageing’, including the types of role women actors are offered, the access they have to work in their chosen profession, the presence of older women actors on stage and screen and in positions of power within the creative industries, and their experiences of embodied ageing.

This project has now been extended to a larger project funded by the ISRF which will use creative writing workshops to examine and begin to challenge the workings of ageism in the cultural industries. Our project brings cross-field cultural workers into close partnership with academics to promote social inclusion.

We focus on the overarching theme of ‘experiences of ageing’, including the types of role women actors are offered, the access they have to work in their chosen profession, the presence of older women actors on stage and screen, and in positions of power within the creative industries, and their experiences of embodied ageing.

The Impact 

Ageing and the Future in Speculative fiction examines how speculative fiction is able to construct new imaginative visions of the future that can both sustain and challenge assumptions, ideas and narratives about age, ageing and the future.

Research outputs

  • ‘RepresentAge, Care and Cultural Visibility’, ‘Ageing, Illness, Care in Cultural and Literary Narrative’, University of Huddersfield, 5-6 September, 2019

 

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