London’s South Bank goes geriatric

London’s South Bank goes geriatric


norman lebrecht

April 05, 2018

press release:

Southbank Centre today announces (B)old, a brand new festival celebrating age and creativity, supported by The Baring Foundation. Championing new and established artists aged 65 years and over, (B)old features a week of vibrant programming from Monday 14 – Sunday 20 May 2018 taking place across Southbank Centre’s 17 acre site including the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.

(B)old explores and challenges cultural perspectives of age and the role it plays in arts and society, as well as the impact of creating and experiencing art at a later age. The new festival offers something for all ages and showcases work from artists across dance, music, theatre, visual art and literature. The programme features free events and activities, and an array of engaging workshops, talks and debates bringing the idea of ‘age’ into discussion.

 Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre said(B)old is just that, a bold new festival showcasing the work of older artists, and celebrating age as a powerful force in arts and culture. We’re looking forward to exploring and challenging cultural perceptions of growing older – both in the arts and in modern society.

Artists include: Germaine Acogny, Richard Alston, Alfred Brendel, Cheryl Campbell, Lavinia Co-op, Christopher Green, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Judith Kerr OBE, Zandra Rhodes, Nawal El Saadawi, Valda Setterfield.

As someone who is over 65, I find this ghettoisation of old age both gruesome and patronising.

Your views?


  • John Rook says:

    Gruesome and patronising it may be on the surface, but it might help remind some people that artistry is not to be confused with a stunning silhouette; grotesque, hirsute ‘maestro’ imitations nor an accomplished publicist. I sometimes look at the Rogue’s Gallery of earlier geniuses and wonder how many of them would be given a chance today…

  • Graeme Macphee says:

    Etymology: from Greek gēras ‘old age’ + iatros ‘doctor’, ie a branch of medicine.

    When used in this way to denote people of advanced age it can be considered pejorative and offensive….as it has been extrapolated from severely compromised people often with extreme frailty and dementia…

    Young Musician of the year does not “go paediatric..”….

  • Hilary says:

    Much more worthy than another of the SouthBank’s initiatives, though this reprehensable tagline may be the handiwork of Sound and Music :

  • Margaret Steinitz says:

    I tend to agree Norman. We have enough division in society today without the South Bank Centre adding to it. Surely artists should be leading the way in bringing the generations together and learning from each other…surely that is the way forward? Not creating ghettos.

    • Jimmy says:

      Why is celebrating a group divisive? Promoting one group over another may be but simply recognising that that group exists is not.

      Is the existence of the National Youth Orchestra divisive?

    • Jimmy says:

      Promoting one group over another is divisive; celebrating and/or recognising a group is not.

      Is the existence of the National Youth Orchestra divisive?

  • Rodney Punt says:

    This geriatric South Bank fare might also leave us C(old).

  • Gavin Black says:

    I don’t have any particular comment or anything to add on the phenomenon of this event’s existence as a whole, but I have this recommendation: go see Valda Setterfield’s Lear. It is amazing.