Nicky is a specialist in theatre and dementia, leading ground-breaking creative practice with older people and people living with dementia. Her study of creative co-production processes with people with dementia forms the basis of her doctoral research at Leeds Beckett University’s Centre for Dementia Research.
Rosa Peterson from Leeds
Words of Strength
Identifying and addressing gaps/inequalities
Nicky believes the arts offer profound, sensitive, accessible methods of exploring diverse experiences of dementia, highlighting commonalities and reducing inequalities. We must necessarily move beyond dominant narratives focused on loss and despair, embracing possibilities and championing expression within dementia.
Nicky’s practice and research in theatre and dementia are rooted in valuing people with dementia as creative assets, presenting balanced narratives of dementia through creative co-production, involving people with dementia in shaping how the condition is perceived, articulated, and treated.
Nicky aims to build on her existing work in the UK, connecting with an international, multi-disciplinary community of researchers, artists, and people living with dementia to produce and disseminate new research and creative projects pertinent to the global dementia agenda.
People with dementia are undervalued and stigmatized. Nicky believes creative arts approaches can, and do, challenge and change this. By embracing people’s inherent creativity, we place discovery and hope within the narrative of dementia, improving lives and futures.
Nicky is currently Research Associate at Leeds Playhouse, where she created the world’s first specifically adapted dementia-friendly theatre performance in 2014. She subsequently authored a best-practice guide to staging dementia-friendly productions, adopted industry-wide. She initiated and directed Every Third Minute (2018), a pioneering theatre festival curated by people living with dementia, and facilitated the co-authorship of three plays by people with dementia and professional writing partners. She supports the theatre industry, nationally and internationally, to involve and value people with dementia as creative equals.
Nicky trained as a visual artist at Keele University with a focus on conceptual art, creating socially-engaged installations inviting audience participation. She holds an MSc degree in Dementia Studies from the University of Bradford, and she is completing her PhD degree at Leeds Beckett University on creative co-production processes in theatre with people with dementia. Nicky’s work with older people spans 25 years in care, community, and arts settings. Her work as a carer, supporting people in their own homes and in care homes, was integral to forming her ethos of working with and learning from people living with dementia. In 2014 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship, traveling internationally to learn and share practice in arts and dementia. She is a member of the UK Dementia Congress advisory group. Her work has been recognized with major national awards from Arts & Business, The Alzheimer’s Society, and National Dementia Care Awards.