Maitland Regional Art Gallery is calling on the public to help it make a meaningful impact on people with dementia.
Every Tuesday, people with memory loss (primarily from aged-care facilities) enter the gallery to take part in the tours and events that comprise the Art and Dementia Program.
For many participants, the interaction and socialisation sparks long forgotten memories, sensations and abilities.
For some fortunate families, the program is a chance to regain their ageing loved-one, if only for a moment.
MRAG cultural director Brigette Uren said the community had embraced the program and its numbers had swelled.
But to see people, who get off the buses cramped and looking down, walk away from the gallery taller, with brighter eyes – you see why I’m so proud.Brigette Uren
In fact, the number of people using the program doubled since it began.
But Despite the success and growing popularity, the program receives no funding and relies exclusively on third party donations and sponsors to operate.
On Friday MRAG will host its annual fundraiser for the program.
Organisers hope to fund the program for the whole of 2017 – right now it is renewed on a term-by-term basis.
Ms Uren said the goal of the program restored more than just memory – it restored purpose, dignity and connection.
“It’s difficult to quantify its value,” she said.
“But to see people, who get off the buses cramped and looking down, walk away from the gallery taller, with brighter eyes – you see why I’m so proud.”
The program benefits the carers of those with dementia equally. Ms Uren said it created new ways to establish conversation between carer and client.
“One woman, who comes in with her mother, came up to me and said ‘My mum doesn’t recognise me, but she just spoke my name.’,” Ms Uren said.
“That’s the warmth of what MRAG is about.”
Tickets include a dessert smorgasbord, drinks by Tyrrell's Wines, live painting, music and more.
ABC Newcastle’s Paul Bevan will interview 2011 MasterChef contestant Peter Vickery while ceramicist Katherine Mahoney and and artist Rachel Milne will create throughout the night.
Auctions will also be held to raise more funds.