8.9 Enhancing social inclusion through culture
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The special education schools for children with special needs offer a variety of artistic opportunities to their students, such as music therapy and art classes, but also training opportunities in arts professions. They also organise events where the general public participate, thus fostering social integration and building their self- confidence.
The Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) in collaboration with the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOK) in a joint effort to address addictions through culture, and with the aim of raising public awareness on the issue of addictions in a broader context, have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. The Memorandum includes – among others – actions, such as:
- Carrying out theatrical visits by people belonging to vulnerable populations;
- THOK will be offering free or reduced tickets for specific theatrical performances that take place within the framework of providing alternative healthy employment to children and young people belonging to vulnerable groups, as well as those who are in the process of treatment;
- Free workshops and/or discussions;
- Promotion of the actions of THOK through the communication network of NAAC, as well as the mutual availability of the two bodies’ infrastructures and networks of collaborators, for the achievement of THOK and NAAC’s common goals.
In addition, THOK offers various programmes that facilitate access to young people to cultural activities, such as:
- Annual Pancyprian school theatre competition: Within the context of the Pancyprian School Theatre Games, co-organized with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, THOC presents training workshops for educators assigned to stage productions, and also provides schools with financial support;
- “Valitsa”: two-day scenography and theatrical play workshops (Εργαστήρια Βαλίτσα), in which minors (regardless of origin) who live in juvenile facilities can participate. It concerns exclusively young people under 18;
- “Scene 0-18” (Σκηνή 0-18): The programme offers performances specifically for this age group in schools and communities which are located in rural/remoted areas,.
- “Theatrical Shelter” (Θεατρικό Καταφύγιο): Since 2013, the activities of the Theatrical Shelter are considered as actions of support, creative solidarity and theatrical development. The activities, with minimum or no charges in order to be accessible to the public, aim to strengthen the audience's relationship with the theatre, but also to give the opportunity of using the knowledge and experience of people involved in theatre, for the benefit of the general public. The motivation behind the planning of these activities is solidarity, mutual help, support of as many groups as possible from the culture and theatre sector. The people from the Theatrical Shelter offer, among others, workshops, guided tours, educational programmes, organised visits to schools or other ensembles.
The "Activities of School and Social Inclusion (DRA.S.E.)" is a top-level programme that contributes to preventing and reducing poverty and overcoming cultural diversity and discrimination amongst the general population – including young people. The activities of the Programme include art and music classes and other relevant activities. For more information on the Programme, read the “Chapter 6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training - Formal education: main policy measures on ELET”.
Moreover, as already mentioned in the sub-chapter 8.5 Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training, the Adult Education Centres offered in rural and urban areas is a basic programme that facilitates young people’s (over 15 years old) participation in cultural activities and lifelong learning opportunities. A lot of youth clubs, which are mainly organised in small villages, take advantage of the programme thus offering it, in this way, especially to young people.
Meanwhile, the Youth Initiatives programme of the Youth Board of Cyprus (mentioned also in sub-chapter 8.4 Reducing obstacles to young people’s access to culture) gives access to young people and youth NGO’s to funding in order to realise their own cultural activities and offer them to other young people either for free or on a very low cost.