Theatre Grodzki

Europe, Poland
Art discipline: Theater, Beeldende kunst, Film, Puppetry
Participated in ICAF in: 2011

The Bielsko Artistic Association Grodzki Theatre was founded in 1999 in the town of Bielsko-Biala (southern part of Poland, 100 km from Cracow, 30 km from the Czech border). The Association groups artists, pedagogues, culture promoters and entrepreneurs engaged in supporting children, teenagers, adults and the elderly from the socially excluded groups. The latter include physically and mentally disabled persons, children and youths from families at risk, young offenders, victims of alcohol and drug addictions, unemployed and all those alienated from the mainstream of social and cultural life. The Grodzki Theatre is the only non-profit organization in the region with such a complex and wide artistic and educational program to combat social exclusion.

The main activities of the Association include:
- Arts workshops (mainly theatre, puppetry, computer animation and fine arts). The workshop program has been implemented in close cooperation with local specialist institutions (re-socialization and day care centers, hospitals, orphanages, etc.) It is aimed at supporting integration of vulnerable groups into society. Their active involvement in arts and creativity means not only acquiring knowledge and new skills, but also breaking walls of social ghettos and overcoming personal barriers. The workshop program gives the disadvantaged an opportunity to develop individual artistic talents and passions, and through personal fulfillment and success it motivates them to open up to further self-development.

- Editing projects (manuals, books, film documentaries, newspapers). This has been a very important field to explore by the Association from the very beginning of its activities. It is aimed at sharing and disseminating good practice, like workshop and lessons scenarios, useful methods and techniques, easy to apply in various educational context, and being an inspiration for trainers and artists. Most of the publications edited by Grodzki Theatre have an instructional character and appear in the form of handbooks. They often provide an insight into the lives of the workshop groups. Different editorial forms are used to facilitate orientation in the books and the visual narration in film materials helps to understand events which are hard to verbalize.

- Training programs (mostly in drama education and social economy) for instructors, teachers, therapists, artists, volunteers and workers of non-governmental organizations. It is another way of exchanging best practices, sharing knowledge and teaching practical skills. Most of the training sessions are workshop oriented, allowing participants to experience the spirit and dynamics of presented activities.

- Vocational training programs for socially excluded groups. The Association runs 2 Vocational Rehabilitation Units (sheltered enterprise), employing 62 disabled people, who cant`t find a job on a free job market. It also runs Occupational Therapy Workshop providing a day care unit for 30 disabled persons. The main task of the OTW is the social and vocational rehabilitation of each participant, aiming at self-development, increased physical skills, assertiveness, coping with everyday tasks and independent living in society. Beneficiaries attend both individual and group occupational therapy.

The Association operates mainly in the Bielsko-Biała region, being also involved in artistic and educational projects at a national and European level (partner organizations in: Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Italy, Finland). The Association has been able to work with people disconnected from the mainstream of social life thanks to many grants and awards from Polish and international institutions and foundations, including the EU programs, Soros Foundation, Polish Ministries of Culture, Education and Justice, among others.