Founder and President
Veronica Franklin Gould FRSA, AMRSPH
Veronica founded Arts 4 Dementia to help develop participatory programmes in partnership with arts venues, with training, to re-energise and inspire people affected by early stage dementia, and their carers. Her reports Reawakening the Mind (2013), Music Reawakening: Musicianship and Access for Early to Mid Stage Dementia – The Way Forward (Wigmore Hall 2015) and Reawakening Integrated: Arts & Heritage (Dorset, 2017) and her conferences and symposia (Royal Albert Hall 2011, Royal Society of Medicine and Sadler’s Wells 2013, Wigmore Hall 2015) showcase best practice by arts organisations around the country. As Head of Research, Veronica steers A4D’s arts programmes, and is committed to achieving direction to patients on diagnosis of dementia – to artistic stimulation as cognitive rehabilation and reablement.
An art historian and biographer, Veronica curated the centenary exhibitions of the Victorian artist G. F. Watts OM RA, and of his wife Mary Seton Watts, ‘Unsung Heroine of the Art Nouveau’ (Watts Gallery 1998 and 2004) and the bicentenary exhibition of the Victorian poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘Tennyson at Farringford’ 2009).
Music triggered the foundation of Arts 4 Dementia. In autumn 2009, a Russian postgraduate studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, offered to play Bach’s Cello Suite 1 for her mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease seven years earlier. The exquisite quality of the music and the musician’s understanding and eye contact aroused the return of her mother’s natural communication. Her interest in the musician’s career inspired Veronica to research the use of artistic stimulation to bypass dementia symptoms, override the strain. Her A4D partnership programmes with arts venues around London, piloted for the 2012 Olympics and life-transforming for families affected by dementia, won the London 2012 Inspire Mark, the National Breakthrough Positive Practice in Mental Health Dementia Award 2013. She was named Sunday Times Changemakers a finalist in 2014 and achieved NIACE Adult Learners Week Highly Commended in 2015.
As Chief Executive of A4D from its inception until 30 September 2015, Veronica achieved an extraordinary amount for the charity. She built up a board of trustees, advisory panel and patrons, to encourage the development of careers and opportunities for wide-ranging artistic stimulation. Amidst the research, fundraising, conference planning, negotiations, working with interns and volunteers, her pilot projects first at The Wallace Collection, Poetry and Communication at Putney Library, and music partnership project with Live Music Now, Kingston University and Age Concern Kingston revealed evidence of memory retrieval and joyful, enriching transformations as people re-discover their voice and memory through our talented young musicians and course leaders. This led to A4D’s London Arts Challenge in 2012 programme of eighteen weekly projects at arts venues around the capital – covering art, dance, drama, music, photography and poetry, and inclusion in the London 2012 Inspire programme. Her resulting evaluation Reawakening the Mind was described by Baroness Greengross, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia as “a very important report” and by Professor Paul Camic, Professor of Psychology and Public Health at Canterbury Christ Church University as “a world first”.
Leaders in the arts, dementia, age and care services presented at the inaugural Arts 4 Dementia Best-Practice Conference 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall. Reawakening the Mind, A4D’s evaluation of the London Arts Challenge programme (2013) included a Toolkit of Best Practice guidance for arts facilitators. Its launch at The Royal Society of Medicine and subsequent Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Seminar 2013 at Sadlers Wells raised awareness of the new early-stage dementia learning stream for cultural venues. We were delighted that through our keynote speakers Baroness Greengross and Harry Cayton, chair of the Department of Health and Arts Council England’s A Prospectus for Arts and Health, direction to arts activity will now be given to memory services, to care managers and to patients on diagnosis. Her Music Reawakening conference and report – a partnership with the English Chamber Orchestra, London College of Music and Wigmore Hall showcased music for dementia nationwide and beyond and demonstrated how music can be used to stimulate people throughout the dementia care pathway.
Veronica handed over as Chief Executive on 30 September 2015 when the role of Honorary Life President was created to recognise her enormous contribution both to the charity and to the lives of people living with dementia, so as to enable people affected by dementia to lead fulfilling lives in the community from diagnosis and as long as possible. 2016-17 she set up a county template Reawakening Integrated, Arts and Heritage to upscale A4D nationwide. As Director of our Social Prescribing programme, her Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference 2019 ‘Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for the Dementias’ at the Wellcome Collection opened the conversation to advance social prescribing to re-energising arts activity at the onset of dementia symptoms. She has since run conferences for each NHS England region, for Scotland and shortly Wales and Northern Ireland. Her campaign to transform the severity of fear and loneliness in the run up to diagnosis, resulted in her Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference 2021, ‘Arts for Brain Health: Social Prescribing as Peri-Diagnostic Practice for Dementia and seminal report A.R.T.S. for Brain Health: Social Prescribing transforming the diagnostic narrative for Dementia: From Despair to Desire . Veronica was invited to record podcasts for the Centre for Cultural Value Reflecting Values 0:59-7:30mins) and World Health Organisation, Healing Arts London ‘Patterns in the Fog‘ and nominated a finalist Social Prescribing Innovator of the Year 2021. Her Global Arts for Brain Health webinar debates, addressed by experts in culture health and wellbeing and social prescribing, have been attended by delegates from all over the world. her current Greengross A4D Global Arts for Brain Health Changemakers Conversations are run in memory of our late patron Sally, Baroness Greengross and in association with her family’s campaign for Age Irrelevance .
Veronica is trustee of The Amber Trust (music for visually impaired and autistic children), on the advisory boards of The British Society for Lifestyle Medicine and the Global Arts in Medicine Fellowships, and Honorary Vice President of Decibels International (music for deaf children and young adults).