The Cultural Internship
The programme runs for 3 days a week, 44 weeks a year.
Set up to give young people with learning disabilities the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience of working in a theatre company.
The Internship consists of a peer learning and mentoring programme with our company members.
Interns are able to discover what makes them tick and how they can pursue their interests within our organisation.
Inspired by memories, devised and performed by Liberdade's cultural interns.
Why we do it.
In our experience many people with learning disabilities find themselves ‘falling off a cliff’ after leaving school and college and can become isolated from everyday life. Consequently many people are increasingly relingy on state assistance and are overlooked by employers.
In 2012 we developed our cultural internship programme to give young people with learning disabilities a stepping-stone between education and working in the cultural sector but when we have tried to place people in other cultural organisations they are just not willing to take on the risk or responsibility. Since then we have taken things into our own hands and have developed our very own cultural venue Gosforth Civic Theatre.
"Our principle aim is to become a national exemplar for how the learning disabled community can play a comprehensive and significant role at the heart of wider society."
It was strange at first. It was a very different environment from the one I had gotten used to. I’d gone from just my four walls to being around people. But everyone who I met was fun. There were people who I could talk to, which felt good. They told me what I could expect from being at Liberdade if I came full time.
The staff talk like they care and they want to help. They understand me. It’s very different to being at college, in a good way. Being around people who are in the same boat as me has helped me become more confident. The things we do and the way we are with each other, it’s kind of like being in a family.
I don’t take part in the shows that the company does because I don’t like being in front of an audience. But here, that’s ok. Instead of it being a problem it’s like “Well, how can you get involved in what were doing? What are you interested in and how can you use that here.”
"Your up doing something good everyday. I’m interested. I’m motivated. I want to take part."
There are lots of jobs involved in putting on a performance and I’ve taken those responsibilities - I work backstage, do peoples hair and make up and organise props and costumes. I’m not a performer, I’m there to make sure everything goes smoothly. I’m as important as everyone else.
I have also taken on the responsibility of promoting the work that Liberdade does though its social media - Facebook and twitter accounts. I’m also developing the news page on the companies website. Since joining I could see myself becoming a member of Liberdade helping out, having a job. I get the chance to do the things I'm good at but I'm also encouraged to do things that I find more difficult. So for me that would be things like, talking in a big group. I’m getting better at it. Slowly. But I understand why it’s good for me to do that. I’ve tried being in front of the camera but I prefer being behind it. You need to try new things.
We don’t just do the same things over and over again. Your up doing something good everyday. I’m interested. I’m motivated. I want to take part.
When we do a project we’re asked how are we are going to be involved, you make a commitment and stick to it. Everyone relies on each other. You feel part of something, I care about it. If you don’t try your not just letting your self down you letting everyone else down too. You come here to work not just sit around and do nothing. For some people getting themselves here on time is a big thing, for others just taking part in a group activity is massive. Everyone has their own milestones to reach.
What's it like?
How it works
Art as a tool for change
At Liberdade we use the arts as a tool for change both within our participants and also throughout society as a whole. We don’t just train people to be performers we use the process of performing and being a member of the company as a mechanism for personal and social development.
Performing and creating films enables our members to have a collective voice it instils confidence and creativity, it promotes valuable life and work skills but most importantly its promotes social value. At Liberdade its not about how talented you are or what you can do, its about belonging first and then finding and honing your skills to contribute to the organisation as a whole.
A structured get into work programme
Working with peer mentor group
Work experience placements
Personal plans that work with broader life goals