A NEW annual arts festival to celebrate "creative ageing", featuring 70-year-old Finnish rockers, dance for the ageing body and shows in care homes, will take place every autumn across Scotland.

Luminate, a festival aimed at the ageing population, will feature dance, drama and music performances, film screenings, literary events and exhibitions across the country from October 1 to October 31 this year.

Backed by £75,000 from Creative Scotland and the same amount from the Baring Foundation, the festival is designed not only to entertain but to encourage the older generation to explore and celebrate their own creativity.

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The festival has been partially inspired by the success of the Bealtaine festival in Ireland, which celebrates "creativity as we age", featuring 3000 events and attracting 120,000 visitors.

"The country is ageing and it is very interesting, even in the short time we have had, to see how many companies and artists are interested in working with this idea in mind," Anne Gallacher, the director of Luminate, said.

"There are also issues of the challenges facing older artists.

"There is this opinion that you can only be imaginative or creative when you are young and we want to challenge that: an interest in art and culture does not stop as you get older."

A full programme for the festival, for which The Herald is media partner, will be published on August 13.

Yesterday actor Johnnie Beattie, 86, backed the new festival, and said: "I think this festival could be very effective.

"There are a lot of people that want to get involved in things, not only the theatre, but don't know how to get involved, and I think this might help them.

"There are folks in their 70s getting Open University degrees, there are plenty of people who will want to take part."

Also appearing in the festival will be Riskiryhmä (Risky Rhythm), a six-strong female rock band from Finland who will perform in Livingston, Edith MacArthur's reading of Sylvia Dow's radio drama It's Only Words, at Perth Theatre, an afternoon in Brechin when children, parents and grandparents will share stories and memories, a new piece for 12 male dancers by choreographer Andy Howitt in which he explores what the ageing body brings to dance, as well as Libby McArthur's take on turning 50 in the premiere of The F Word at Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock.

Ms Gallacher added: "There is already a wide variety of creative work with, and for, older people taking place across Scotland, and Luminate looks to celebrate and build on this."

Many of the events are free or discounted, and audience members will be encouraged to become involved as participants.