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PRESS: Liberdade awarded Youth Investment Fund grant to transform Gosforth Civic Theatre

Liberdade Community Development Trust awarded Youth Investment Fund grant to transform Gosforth Civic Theatre and its services for young people in Newcastle.

Liberdade Community Development Trust has been awarded a transformational Youth Investment Fund grant of £1.5 million to support the renovation of Gosforth Civic Theatre, and increase their provision for young people across Newcastle and the surrounding areas.

Liberdade, pronounced [lib-er-dar-jie], 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 with and without additional needs, arts and wellbeing activities from their home at Gosforth Civic Theatre – an arts venue and cafe in Newcastle upon Tyne. 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.

The charity’s venue 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 a major renovation is necessary to help it support more young people with additional needs and to realise its ambition to be a truly accessible and sustainable space.

Liberdade is one of 43 organisations in England to benefit from the first wave of Youth Investment Fund grants, announced by the funder, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the charity Social Investment Business, who is delivering the grant programme in partnership with Key Fund, National Youth Agency and Resonance. The Youth Investment Fund is part of the Government’s National Youth Guarantee to transform and level up opportunities for young people in England. The Youth Investment Fund, of over £300 million, aims to build, renovate, or extend youth service facilities, providing a minimum of 45,000 additional positive activities for young people between 11 and 18 - in the parts of the country where new spaces and new opportunities are most needed.

The 43 Youth Investment Fund grants announced today, worth over £90 million, are the first to benefit from this new funding. Over the next two years the funding pot will be rolled out to a total of 300 youth services across England. It will enable organisations like Liberdade to transform health, wellbeing, skills, and opportunities for young people. It is a ground-breaking opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people and deliver the life-changing services they need, creating a more equal society for future generations. The Youth Investment Fund grant will help to transform Gosforth Civic Theatre and will enable a major renovation, expansion, and upgrade. The renovation will make the space both accessible and sustainable and able to support more young people long into the future. The organisation has also successfully attracted a further £1million of capital funding from Arts Council England, 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.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Every young person should be given the best possible start in life and we are investing more than £500 million to transform youth services across the country.

“Today we are announcing the first major beneficiaries of a £300 million pot to give thousands more youngsters access to vital services and new opportunities to support and boost their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Nick Temple, CEO for Social Investment Business, said: “Every young person deserves access to high quality activities and facilities, providing the opportunities to help them thrive. The Youth Investment Fund is helping make that vision a reality, supporting organisations and projects in the areas of England that need it most.”

“It’s been amazing to see the wide range of projects applying to the Fund, and especially how young people have played a meaningful role in shaping those plans. There is a real appetite to develop inclusive, accessible and sustainable facilities that will be there for future generations – and that is reflected in the first set of grants announced today.” 

“We are hugely excited as work gets underway in places across the country – work that will help transform opportunities for thousands of young people.” 

Welcoming the Youth Investment Fund grant, Rob Huggins the CEO and founder of Liberdade said: “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.”

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 shape people’s attitudes. Now we can do that.”

The Youth Investment Fund is actively welcoming expressions of interest for youth service projects for new/renewed facilities that will deliver positive outcomes for young people in selected eligible areas in England.  Eligible youth service projects can apply now, with applications open until the final grant committee in March 2024.  Visit

For more information, images or access - contact Scott Forbes at

@GoCivTheatre | @LiberdadeCDT | 0191 284 3700

Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regent Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 3HD

Liberdade Community Development Trust registered charity number 1169355

Proposed Works to Gosforth Civic Theatre

The key improvements that will be made to Gosforth Civic Theatre:

  • Brand new roof on the Theatre and full installation of new heating and insulation throughout the building;

  • New 60m2 + studio space built on the side of the building with a new entrance built out from the current one including office space for staff;

  • Expansion of the bar area to allow better access for SEN education and work placement opportunities – this includes a deli bar being installed and a separate bar being built into the Theatre with the current hatch blocked up to improve sound proofing and efficient service;

  • The accessible toilet will be moved to the rear of the building and made bigger to include accessible wet room and shower, back stage will now be all on ground level with an additional dressing room created with shared toilet and shower facility;

  • The fixed stage in the Theatre will be removed and stage decking bought to create a fully accessible and even more flexible performance space, there will also be upgrades to the sound desk, lighting and other theatrical infrastructure, plus sound proofing to the external wall;

  • Outside will be landscaped for better visibility and inside will redecorated respectfully without losing that unique GCT feel.


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