Liberdade Community Development Trust, the charity that runs Gosforth Civic Theatre, has been awarded funding from the Arts Council under their Grants for the Arts initiative, alongside securing significant funding through the Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund and The National Lottery Awards for All in a hat-trick of funding wins for the ever-growing community arts venue.
The Arts Council grant, puts Gosforth Civic Theatre (GCT) on the North East cultural map, allowing Liberdade to develop not only the venue itself through improvements to the Theatre space and the exterior of the building but also through investments into marketing, infrastructure and, most importantly, developing cultural activity. Liberdade will be able to invest time and creativity in to their work with people with learning disabilities (PWLD) and autism, by hosting new programmed performances, developing a new high-quality piece of work, and delivering an outreach programme and summer school to connect with and create opportunities for young people with learning disabilities and autism.
Further support from The National Lottery Awards for All for 2018 and three year's of funding from the Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund (NCIF) will allow GCT to increase it’s benefit to the wider community using the theatre, cinema, bar and cafe to increase the amount of events and inclusive social activities that happen in the venue; as well as create volunteer opportunities for not only PWLD but local residents too. New initiatives have been put forward under this funding, such as free social and film events for local residents aged 55+, inclusive gaming events and workshops, and increasing the amount of family friendly “Freeplay” sessions for parents to bring their babies and toddlers.
Since acquiring GCT in 2016, Liberdade has had a unique opportunity to model how a theatre can be used to actively encourage social inclusion while continuing to provide access to great art for everyone. Gosforth Civic Theatre is steadily becoming an important part of the neighbourhood once more, a place that brings the community together. Opportunities to work are created for PWLD in the cafe on a daily basis and also in front of house roles at events, which the charity believes allows PWLD and autism to be more visible and able to shape people's attitudes and effect real change.
Robert Huggins, CEO Liberdade Community Development Trust stated, “The goal is to create a building where people want to go and that puts on great theatre, dance, film and music. Different to a lot of other theatres we want to use the building and the arts within it to bring people with learning disabilities together with a public audience. This means that we can show that PWLD can be useful and productive members of society and provide a place where members of the public want to go"