A peer-led, cross-sector learning project that aims to drive positive change in dementia care, through participatory arts approaches. Applications now closed.


Join the Glasgow 

Learning Marathon 


This group aims to encourage increased communication, collaboration and innovation between health care, the arts, the third sector and academia to support the embedment of participatory music and arts opportunities within dementia care.

Whilst music and the arts have been evidenced as beneficial in alleviating the behavioural and psychological effects of dementia as well as reducing the need for anti-psychotic medication, active participation in the creative arts has been shown to both preserve and develop neurological functioning, as well as having significant positive impacts on well-being.

Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline and social isolation frequently leads to depression. Participatory arts environments draw on the benefits of active engagement with the arts, whilst also focusing on social inclusion via group work and the development of personal relationships between practitioner and client, both of which support the maintenance of cognitive function and improved emotional well-being.

There are many organisations and projects in Scotland utilising the therapeutic value of participatory arts in dementia care but there are insufficient frameworks for long-term, sustained, provision. The number of people with dementia in the UK is set to rise to 1 million by 2025. This is a worst-case scenario but the development of preventative and therapeutic measures is increasingly urgent. This group will aim to explore how these beneficial participatory arts practices can be embedded into service design, as well as mapping gaps in provision and how systemic inadequacies in dementia care and prevention can be addressed.

Your facilitator

Amy MacDougall has been devising, developing, managing and facilitating participatory music projects in Scotland for the past 10 years.


She is committed to increasing opportunities for the arts to be recognised and utilised as beneficial and even essential to wellbeing. Since graduating from a popular music degree she has progressed from workshop facilitator to project development officer and freelance project manager. Amy develops and facilitates workshops with people of all ages and from a range of backgrounds. In addition to working in community music development and facilitation, Amy toured extensively with successful Scottish pop band King Creosote and was a recording artist on the BAFTA nominated documentary film From Scotland With Love.

Amy has witnessed the impact participatory music sessions can have for people living with dementia. She's seen participants who've been non-verbal for a long period of time suddenly regain the ability to communicate verbally, after as little as one participatory music session - and a participant on one of the projects she developed (a 2.5 year partnership project with the NHS, exploring the use of group singing as a health improving activity) proclaimed "it's better than medicine"!

"Amy is a very committed and creative individual, instrumental in developing many innovative projects in mental health and wellbeing." 

- Paul Chambers, Cultural Services Officer, Glasgow Life


Applications now closed

Key dates for your diary:


What does the programme look like?

All the detail is here.

​What's the application process like?

The application process is simple. You tell us a bit about yourself and make a short proposal for the project you'll take on. You do this via the application form. If you're shortlisted you will have an interview with your facilitator over the phone.

Should you wait until the deadline to apply?

Ideally no. Your facilitator will be reviewing and interviewing throughout the application period, so don't sit on it. Remember we're looking for passion and commitment - not proposal writing skills.

​What's the time commitment?

The guideline we give is that you will need to be able to commit 5+ hours per week. Some weeks it will be more, other weeks it may be less. Some of this time will be spent in Meetups and workshops, some of it will be self-initiated.

When do we Meetup?

Evening Meetups will be every other Tuesday 6 - 9.30pm at a variety of Glasgow locations.


What are we looking for?


  1. Genuine commitment to and interest in developing innovative approaches to improving the quality of life for people who have dementia.

  2. A proposal for a personal Learning Question (which connects to the group theme) that you will pursue as a self-led project.

  3. Real interest in learning with and from a group of peers. You'll have deep listening skills and be able to work in collaboration, articulate your ideas and make them visible. 

  4. A proactive spirit. You come with lots of ideas and creative energy to make them a reality.


  1. Experience working in dementia care or a related discipline (e.g. participatory arts/music practitioner, creative therapies specialist, health care professional, academic in social sciences, neurology, gerontology, technology or the arts).

  2. A strong network of contacts and colleagues that you're open to sharing with the group.

We welcome applications from people of all ages. We also welcome applications from collaborators working on the same goal or project. 

Finding a Learning Question

Can we create a framework for long-term, sustained participatory arts projects to be embedded into dementia care in Scotland?

All Learning Marathon applicants propose a Learning Question which they are motivated to explore for six months - or more. Applicants to this group will need to propose a question which links to overarching theme. There are some examples in the diagram below.

Whilst some applicants come with an existing question or project that they want to develop, others do not - and that is totally fine. You can have a play with our Learning Question Generator - or download our learning goals tool to help you map what you'd like to achieve, and then refine this into a question that really motivates you. You can also sign up for a 30 minute phone call with your facilitator to discuss your learning question directly.

What matters is finding a question that can act as a starting point. Questions tend to evolve along the way, this is all part of the learning process, so don't get hung up on finding the perfect question. When the Marathon kicks off there will be lots of opportunity to refine it.

What does it cost?

Peer-to-peer and self-led approaches lower the cost of learning, but the structures and facilitation which support your journey require time, energy and design. We have several options when it comes to fees and payments - to keep the Marathon as accessible as possible.

Fees: The graphic shows a rough cost breakdown.

  • Low - medium wage: £750 per participant

  • Medium - high wage or employer sponsored: £1050 per participant


Payment plans: Payments can be made in instalments or on a monthly scheme over 6 or 12 months if preferred.

Bursaries and trades: We know that for some people the cost of learning is completely prohibitive. We offer some bursaries in exchange for a donation of your skills and time. You can apply for a bursary within the regular application form. 

We're working on getting some places sponsored (more information soon) - and we also have resources to assist you in making the case to your employer for support with the Learning Marathon.


Get in touch with questions about which option would be most suitable for you.



More questions?

All the detail can be found by downloading our prospectus.