Veronica Franklin Gould FRSA, AMRSPH
Veronica, Head of Research and Director of our Social Prescribing Programme, 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.
Veronica is an art historian and biographer. She was curator and organiser of the centenary exhibitions of the Victorian artist G. F. Watts, and of his wife Mary Seton Watts, (Watts Gallery 1998 and 2004) and of the bicentenary exhibition of the Victorian poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, Tennyson at Farringford 2009).
She conceived the idea for Arts 4 Dementia in 2009, when a young Russian cellist studying for an MA at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, performed Bach for her mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease seven years earlier. The high quality of the music and the musician’s understanding and eye contact aroused the return of her natural communication. Her interest in the musician’s career prompted Veronica to research artistic stimulation that bypasses dementia symptoms. Her A4D partnership programmes with arts venues around London – life-transforming for families affected by dementia – have 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.
Veronica was Chief Executive of A4D from its inception until 30 September 2015. During that time, she 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”.
Veronica invited leaders in the arts, dementia, age and care services to take part in the inaugural Arts 4 Dementia Best-Practice Conference 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall -with the backing of Awards for All Big Lottery Funding. 2013 saw the publication of A4D’s Reawakening the Mind evaluation of the London Arts Challenge programme, which included a Toolkit of Best Practice tips, contacts and other vital information for arts facilitators. The launch of this document at The Royal Society of Medicine was well attended as was the Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Seminar 2013 at Sadlers Wells that October. 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.
Veronica handed over as Chief Executive on 30 September 2015 so as to become President and help spread best practice at arts venues, so as to enable people affected by dementia to lead fulfilling lives in the community from diagnosis and as long as possible. 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, will culminate in her Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference 2021 ‘Art and Green for Brain Health: Social Prescribing as Peri-Diagnostic Practice for Dementia on 20-21 May 2021. Veronica was nominated a finalist, Social Prescribing Innovator of the Year 2021.