WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
Gosforth Civic Theatre is an arts venue, café and community hub in Gosforth, and is home to, and run by, Liberdade Community Development Trust.
Liberdade is a disability arts organisation, we began in 2003 as an apprenticeship scheme with the aim of enabling 8 young people with learning disabilities to set up and run their own physical theatre company. Those 8 original company members and now many more show how running an organisation can offer people with learning disabilities choice, and the opportunity to shape the world in which they live.
We opened Gosforth Civic Theatre in 2016, and in 2019 we hosted more than 900 events and activities, and invited over 50,000 people through our doors. In the words of Ozzy, one of our founding members, we opened the theatre because;
“Historically society has created places for people with learning disabilities to go, at Gosforth Civic Theatre, people with learning disabilities are creating a place where everyone can come together.”
Like all arts organisations we want to change the world, we want to bring people together to create understanding, we want to decide what is the new normal by being extraordinary, and we want to shape our community by telling our stories and providing a home for everyone to enjoy.
" It’s an important message that, there are places where people can come together, can share their jokes, their stories, what concerns them, discuss the way the world is. We are social animals, we need places to meet, to talk, to have a drink, to have a laugh. This looks like a good place where people can be that.”
Ken Loach ( At the screening of 'Spirit of '45 At Gosforth Civic Theatre Aug 2016 )
Historically society has created places for people with learning disabilities to go, this has meant that this group of people are often segregated with few opportunities to demonstrate their social worth. This segregation has also meant members of the public have often had few or no opportunities to get to know people with learning disabilities, therefore fear of, and misconceptions about people with learning disabilities have developed.
We have always aimed to raise the publics expectations of what people with learning disabilities can achieve. We do this by creating high quality performance and film work for a public audience. Now we also have our own 200 seat theatre that provides a relaxed opportunity to bring people with learning disabilities and members of the public together on a daily basis. We programme high quality theatre, dance, cinema and music and sell great coffee for everyone, in return we get social change.
1 To bring more local people and people with learning disabilities together in a building that provides great art for everyone.
2 To provide a model that shows how other organisation can use an entrepreneurial approach to solve social problems.
3 To provide cultural and community activities for everyone to enjoy, supporting artists and the wider cultural community.
4 To regenerate the building to become an asset the heart of the local community
The impact of our work will be two fold:
1 People with learning disabilities will have the opportunity to proactively and positively shape how the general public view them. This is a clear societal benefit and a model that can be replicated by other organisations. This also has personal impact by building on self esteem and promotes health and wellbeing.
2 Local people of all backgrounds will have a theatre and space where they can come together, enjoy performance, film, and music and use as an important social hub.