Dementia Friendly Work

Capital Theatres is proud to be dementia friendly. Find out more about the background to our dementia friendly work, plus what’s on offer for people living with dementia, their family and friends.

Dementia-friendly performances

We are committed to creating a warm, welcoming and adapted environment that enables people to flourish, enjoy the arts and stay connected with the community around them.

Want to be kept up-to-date about all of our dementia friendly projects? Want to know more about our partners, attenders and staff? You can now download our DementiArts, our dementia friendly newsletter

Scottish Opera's Tosca , Dementia Friendly

Tosca Tuesday 19 November, Festival Theatre, 3pm

Sung in Italian with English supertitles. Presenter: Allan Dunn

In 1940s Rome, in the shadow of Mussolini’s tyrannical rule, the ill-fated lovers come to life against a backdrop of political corruption and intrigue. With Puccini’s music and Peter Rice’s designs providing a spectacular setting to equal the drama this superb production is beloved the world over.

These specially created performances are fully-staged, and performed by a narrator, The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and a wonderful cast of singers. Audiences are lead through the story, and hear some of the best-loved music from the opera. Lighting levels are brighter, sound levels are lowered and people are able to move freely in and out of the auditorium during the performance to watch the show via live feed screens in quiets areas. 

The Hilllman Hunter, Dementia Friendly

The Hillman Hunter, Friday 6 and Saturday 14 December, The Studio and National Portrait Gallery

A specially commissioned dementia friendly performance by singer Michelle Burke with pianist James Ross and directed by Gerda Stevenson as part of Capital Theatres' care settings tour. 

Inspired by a family story, Michelle’s Grandad Albert from Cork and his family were fierce excited about the Hillman Hunter that was parked outside the house for months awaiting the visitors from America. Albert could not drive but that didn’t stop him and his family having trips in the car. They would all pile in and imagine they were off on spins and adventures. The excitement peaked for them all on the 20th July 1969, the very day Neil Armstrong was pictured walking on the moon, Uncle Pat arrived home and the Hillman Hunter took its maiden voyage. 

Come along on a heart-warming, colourful and humorous journey in the Hillman Hunter.

Inclusive performances

Scottish Ballet The Snow Queen, Inclusive performance

The Snow Queen, Thursday 19 December, Festival Theatre, 2.30pm

Scottish Ballet’s 50th year will come to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – this glittering new production will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

Choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this story of love and friendship is sure to delight the whole family.

To make you feel welcome, relaxed and well-supported, we’ll have lots of trained staff on hand to help with any access needs, anyone can feel free to make noise and move around the auditorium, we’ll keep the lights on, but dimmed to reduce anxiety, and we’ll provide break  out spaces with a live stream of the show so that if people  feel the need to leave the auditorium they won’t miss the action.

Please note that this is an inclusive performance designed for people with a range of needs who benefit from a relaxed environment.

Tea and ‘Jam'

Join our celebration of music making on the last Friday of the month.  Bring along your favourite instrument whether it’s your flute, guitar, drum sticks or kazoo, we want to make music with you. Professional musician, Gus Harrower, will be with us to kick off the jam session but then it’s very much over to you! We provide the refreshments, you create the music and together we enjoy friendship, a good sing-a-long and a dance or two!

Tickets cost £2 per person and carer comes along free. Limited car parking can be booked by calling Stage Door on 0131 662 1112.

Find more information about dates and how to book your space at one of our Tea and 'Jam' sessions

Tea parties with live music

Every month, we open up the Lafayette Bar at the Festival Theatre for a delightfully fun afternoon with tea, cake and live music. There is a different theme each time and entertainment by professional musicians to local community dance schools. It’s a great chance for people to relax and enjoy their time together and whilst a sing along isn’t compulsory it’s certainly invited! Our warm and friendly staff look forward to welcoming you.

Wednesday 26 September:  It’s BBC Music Day 2019 – ‘The Power of Music for health and wellbeing’. Kick start their initiative to help bring music to everyone living with Dementia by 2020.  Come along to sing and dance the afternoon away with the wonderful dementia inclusive Forget Me Notes Choir and accompanying ballroom dancers.

Monday 18 November: Step back in time with Edinburgh based Lord Holyrude, gramophone DJ. Playing vintage classics on genuine wind up machines for your listening and dancing pleasure.

Monday 16 December: ‘Carols around the Tree’ -  Join us for a festive afternoon with Capital Theatre’s House Band and a varied mix of Christmas classics to sing along too.

Monday 20 January: New Year…same fantastic tea parties! Newbattle High School Big Band plays a range of well-known music from across the decades: from Elvis to Louis Armstrong to the Musicals, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Tickets cost £2 per person and a carer comes along free. Limited car parking can be booked by calling Stage Door on 0131 662 1112.

You can book online, in person or by calling Box Office on 0131 529 6000. Find more information about booking the dementia friendly Tea Party online.

Drop-in Cafes

The drop-in café is an informal monthly gathering for anyone affected by dementia. Join us for tea, cake and a chat. We are also a Playlists for Life help point, so pop in and we can spend time with you creating ‘The Soundtrack to your Life’ if you like!

From time to time, we also welcome visitors from other organisations who chat about their activities and ways they support people living with dementia, their families and supporters to live well.

The Festival Theatre Drop-In Café runs once a month. Find out specific dates and what organisations are coming along on our What's On section.

Playlist for Life

Capital Focus

Our first focus group of 2019 was a great success with 14 new members of the wider community joining us.
Are you living with or otherwise affected by dementia? We are keen to hear from more people living with dementia to help shape our dementia friendly community. You are very welcome to register interest to join our focus groups on Friday 15 November and Friday 21 February at 2-3.30pm. Alternatively, if getting to us isn’t easy or you are part of a larger community group, we can bring Capital Focus to you!

Tea, coffee and biscuits provided , travel costs can be reimbursed.

Drawn to Learn logo

The history of our Dementia Friendly work

In 2015, staff at the Festival and King’s Theatres noticed that people who had been avid friends of the theatres over many years had stopped attending performances and events. When we contacted them to say hello, we discovered a dementia diagnosis behind this change. Our friends no longer felt confident to visit us. At this point, we asked “what can we do as an organisation to enable people living with dementia to continue seeing performances, to remain an active and valued part of the theatre community?”

That same year, we applied for a three-year grant from the Life Changes Trust with the aim of creating and nurturing a dementia friendly community across our venues. Capital Theatres was successful and was awarded £321,000 over a three year period. This work has flourished, with an extensive dementia friendly buildings audit of the Festival Theatre and The Studio; dementia friends awareness sessions for all staff; creative artists training, and an extensive programme of dementia friendly performances and events in our venues and community settings. The project has worked with multiple stakeholders and partners to be able to deliver this vitally important work for people living with dementia. Over the course of the three years, we have programmed over 380 events and performances with over 7,830 participations.

We’re delighted that the Life Changes Trust has awarded continuation funding for our dementia friendly community from 2018-20. As we embark on the next chapter of this work, the core strands of our programme are:

  1. Opportunities for people living with dementia to access the performing arts as audience members;
  2. Opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in the performing arts;
  3. Training and advocacy, plus developing our volunteer programme & focus group.

We are also striving to promote positive engagement in our activities among diverse groups of people, including people who may not have a track record of engaging with culture and/or may face additional barriers to engaging with culture.

There are numerous resources around the city for those living with dementia and their families. For example, you can now check the Edinburgh Dementia Friendly Map to find out venues and cafes that establish themselves for those with dementia.