Funded by Wellcome Trust, the Bring Me Laughter Festival was the culmination of The Dukes’ dementia arts project. Running from February 22-26, it was a chance for us to celebrate, share and explore the importance of the arts for people living with dementia alongside practitioners, professionals and participants.

The main aim of Bring Me Laughter has been to explore how laughter and playfulness can be used to develop stronger social connections and enable better communication with people living with dementia and their caregivers. Since January 2019, this has been rooted in participation groups across Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth.

Guests from all across the UK who work in the field of arts and dementia shared their experiences of working in care homes, leading workshops and creating joyful pieces of art. We were also delighted to be joined by project partners Professor Sebastian Crutch and Professor Sophie Scott to talk about how combining artistic and scientific perspectives can provide a powerful platform for people living with dementia and their caregivers, and also the importance of a world of laughter. 

To quote one of our Bring Me Laughter participants from a remote 2020 session, “more now than ever, I think we all need laughter in our lives!”

We would like to say a huge thank you to every person who has played a part in the Bring Me Laughter journey – the participants, volunteers, Dukes staff and artists for the project, the speakers, contributors and attendees of the festival, funders Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, Lancaster University and Lancaster City Council, and, of course, project leader and festival organiser Gil Graystone, for running the project and producing an online festival full of exceptional events and experiences.

You can catch up with all the festival content below. All sessions will be available to watch, share and enjoy until 30 April 2021.

Festival Welcome Film

The Dukes welcome you to the festival, featuring Director: Karen O’Neill; Creative Learning Manager: Carl Woodward and Inclusive Film and Theatre Officer: Gil Graystone

Talk: Understanding Dementias through the Arts

A talk from Sebastian Crutch, Professor of Dementia Studies UCL, about how combining artistic and scientific perspectives can be beneficial for people living with dementia.

Captioned version coming soon, please check back.

Workshop: Finding the Dance

Movement workshop with Bring Me Laughter artists Helen Gould and Anna Daly, joined by musician Howard Haigh.

Virtual Exhibition

An artist's exploration of 'Bring Me Laughter' made through drawings and linocuts, documenting the essence of the project as it progressed.

Launch of The Dukes’ Handbook of Creative Activities for Carers with Mary Porter.

See how three editors, six artists and a small community of carers collaborated in a project to create guide to encourage creativity and wellbeing in dementia. 

See further down the page for details on how to download your copy of the book.

Workshop: Collaborative Storytelling

Creative approaches to collaborative storytelling using easily accessible objects, materials and techniques.


A bright and sunny sing-a-long with Helen Longworth & Fred Binley.

Talk: Meet the Artists

Find out how the Bring Me Laughter artists have developed a collaborative way of working with person-centred practice. 

Captioned version coming soon, please check back.

Talk: Bring Me Love with Susanna Howard

Susanna Howard, founder and artistic director of Living Words discusses the application of improvisation with individuals with later stage dementias, in supporting care home staff, and connecting to relatives during this challenging time. This event was chaired by Alan Hatton-Yeo, Chair of Dukes Board. Captioned version coming soon, please check back.

Talk: Dancing with Dementia

Lauren Clarke and Lily Craig from Yorkshire Dance present their findings from the “In Mature Company” project and detail their Dementia Care Mapping tool.

Talk: It's a Serious Business, this Larking About

In this talk, Bring Me Laughter evaluator Jo Kay reflects on what we’ve learned together about play and laughter.

Animation: A Grand Day

Filmmaker and Bring Me Laughter artist Jonny Randall presents a short animated film, co-created with our participants and artists and inspired by ideas explored during remote lockdown Bring Me Laughter sessions. The film is a loving celebration of Morecambe's coastal front and cultural heritage. (Features the branding/logo of Morecambe Winter Gardens.)

Talk: What is Laughter with Professor Sophie Scott

In this talk, Sophie discussed the evolution of laughter, it’s use in communication and play, and it’s complex cultural and emotional roles. From babies to adults, from rats to apes, laughter is a critically important and highly complex emotion and one with profound implications for humans and their social worlds.

Talk: Reflections

Kriss Foster talks with Leo, a musician and Bring Me Laughter participant, about his involvement with the project during lockdown.

Please note - captioned versions of the live zoom talks are coming soon, as is the recording of Susanna Howard's and Professor Sophie Scott's talk. Please check back.

With You: Handbook of Creative Activities for Carers

As part of the Bring Me Laughter Festival, during the week, we were thrilled to officially release With You, a handbook of creative activities for carers living at home with partners or family members with dementia. 

The handbook suggests low-tech, inexpensive and inspiring ways of using music, movement, art-making, story-telling and word play in your daily routine to help support and reassure, encourage and enliven and to promote relaxation.

With You was commissioned by The Dukes and funded by the Evan Cornish Foundation. 


If you have found the handbook useful please share the details with others in the dementia community. 

If you would like to order further books for yourself or your organisation, it is available to purchase online HERE. With VAT and shipping on top of the £2.55 basic cost, a single book will cost you around £10 but it becomes much cheaper if you make a bigger order.

You can also click on preview to read the whole book online.