Putting young people with learning disabilities at the heart of the community.
Liberdade Development Community Trust, based in Newcastle, has a bold ambition to raise everyone’s expectations about what people with learning disabilities can achieve. They use the arts and social enterprise as tools for change. They offer young people dance, drama and arts activities from their Gosforth Civic Theatre – an arts venue and cafe in Gosforth, Newcastle. It’s a truly inclusive space for performance, music, and events, at the heart of the community, and money spent in the café and theatre helps to sustain their charitable work with people with learning disabilities. Their ethos is all about empowerment, giving young people power. Bringing these young people into the heart of the community, and challenging preconceptions about people with learning disabilities.
One of the young people who has been part of Gosforth Civic Theatre summed up the approach:
“It’s about wanting to give young people with learning disabilities a chance to become part of a community. A chance to shape people’s attitudes. Now we can do that.”
Liberdade Community Development Trust’s Gosforth Civic Theatre combines being a vibrant community hub with their mission to create a truly inclusive place where everyone can belong and take part in the arts. They deliver training to young people and adults with learning disabilities covering areas such as performing arts, health and wellbeing, sport, and employment skills. The theatre is a warm, welcoming, and inclusive space, but it’s crying out for a major renovation to help it support more young people and adults with learning disabilities and be a truly accessible and sustainable space.
The Youth Investment Fund grant will help to transform Gosforth Civic Theatre and will enable a major renovation, expansion, and upgrade, making the space both accessible and sustainable and able to support more young people with learning disabilities. The project has also successfully attracted funding from the Arts Council, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Clothworkers Foundation, and the National Lottery Community Fund. The combined funding offer will transform the building and make their dreams become a reality.
Gosforth Civic Theatre was created by our learning disabled company members to provide other young people with the opportunities they’d had, and to provide a cultural building that brings everyone together. Our company members are the reason why this community has a theatre, and we hope that realisation helps to deliver our mission of raising everyone’s expectations about what people with learning disabilities can achieve. On behalf of our company members and trustees I would like to thank the Youth Investment Fund, DCMS, and all of our funders for believing in and supporting this ambitious project.
CEO and founder of Liberdade
The renovation work funded through the Youth Investment Fund will extend and improve the flexibility of the building, allowing for wider and more diverse use; improve accessibility to increase the availability of areas throughout the building; increase the energy efficiency and upgrade the sound and lighting systems. A much-needed extension and reconfiguration of the space will enhance capacity greatly. It will also enable Liberdade Community Development Trust to deliver new activities for young people and the community, including work experience, volunteering, additional weekly youth activities, peer led learning and a community youth forum that will feed into the Liberdade’s board of trustees. Once work is complete the theatre space will more than double the number of young people it supports every week.
The new programme of work experience and work-based training for young people will be delivered within the building. Young people with learning disabilities or autism will have a great opportunity to participate in a 12 month placement, during the placement they will be trained to work within our Front of House team, in the cafe, and at events within the building. And young people with learning disabilities will be supported to volunteer at community and cultural events at Gosforth Civic Theatre. Other new activities include a queer youth music group, and a tabletop gaming group for young people with and without autism.