The 13th Theatre Company, based in the United Kingdom, is part social enterprise and part performing arts company for people with learning disabilities. Since 2007, the 13th Theatre Company has been offering a range of acting workshops that play a vital difference in how its participants learn both social skills and basic life skills.
For the founder of this innovative acting program, Tracey Spokes, the idea "grew from seeing friends with disabilities being ignored or treated as different." Spokes had always been in the dramatic arts, so it seems natural that she changed her love for acting into an enterprise with a distinctly social component. Spokes claims that the biggest success in the 13th Theatre Company’s humble beginnings is the workshops she does with children with learning disabilities, bullying or emotional issues. The end result is a noticeable boost in self-confidence. "To see a child who was once very shy become outgoing and confident is fantastic. The effect may be small, but hopefully it will last a lifetime as they take these skills with them through life," said Spokes in an interview with ClearlySo.
Because of its partnerships with organizations such as Oxsrad: The Integrated Sports & Leisure Centre and My Life, My Choice, the 13th Theatre Company has been able to make the most of its available resources. What’s more, part of the profits go toward local charities for people with disabilities.
The 13th Theatre Company has big plans for the future. In 2012, they hope to produce a social enterprise musical that involves collaboration from other social enterprises in order to bring publicity to both the unique drama programs that the 13th Theatre Company offers and social business as a whole.
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