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Screech Arts – Q & A

Tiled image in black and white. 9 performers with single items colourised

Screech Arts Facilitator Martina took some time to fill us in on the history of Screech, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is Screech Arts?

Screech Arts is an innovative and inclusive performing arts school for all creative spirits of all ages and abilities. This is a program run by CPL – Choice, Passion, Life – who work alongside people with a disability to live the life they choose with passion. At Screech Arts, we specialise in hosting accessible, creative workshops and performance opportunities for all. Our committed group of experienced technicians, CPL support workers and trained volunteers design and support our workshops and performance programs. This ensures everyone is appropriately supported to take part at their own pace.

Who started Screech Arts, when and why? What is the ongoing inspiration?

Screech Arts, originally called Screech Theatre, was started over 20 years ago in Brisbane by a group of parents, their children and CPL staff. They were interested in starting a group for performing arts that was all inclusive and accessible. It was a real community-based program celebrating all abilities and founded on the belief that anyone could be a performer, no matter who they are. Over time this program grew and got so successful more groups were created in across Brisbane. Now we have about 12 Screech Arts programs around Brisbane, Redcliffe, the Sunshine Coast and stretching all the way up to Maryborough.

The ongoing inspiration is our artists and ensuring their voices are heard in Brisbane’s performing arts community. Our society needs to represent a more diverse range of artists and at Screech Arts, that’s our goal.

Out in the world, there are preconceived ideas about what people with disabilities can achieve and at Screech Arts, we strip these away. We coach our students to realise they can achieve the goals they set themselves through the creative and performing arts. Uniqueness and individuality are our thing, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We believe that everyone who joins us is an artist in their own right and sometimes, all it takes is the right tools to help unlock their creativity.

How many classes do you offer and how many children with special needs take part – are their specific programs for specific children with different disability?

There are 12 Screech Arts programs running across Queensland. Most of our artists are people with a disability and anyone is welcome to join. We have groups specific for teenagers, young adults, the experienced and not so experienced. I would suggest getting in touch with us today and discussing which program might be best suited. Everyone is entitled to have a free trial of our programs to see if it’s right for you. If we don’t have a program in your area, or within the age range needed, let us know. If there is interest, we can make it happen. 

How quickly has it grown and what are further progression plans across the country?

Screech Arts has grown steadily over 20 years from one group in Brisbane south to 12 programs across Queensland. Our aim is to offer a Screech Arts program at most of our CPL sites in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

Can you explain the process of what someone might do when they first start a class and how they progress?

Once you get in touch with our Customer Service team, they will assist you to fill out a Screech Arts Expression of Interested form. This is then sent to the local group facilitator to contact you and discuss the best group for you. Usually from here, a free trial is organised for you to test out the particular program you might be interested in. If you enjoy yourself, and want to continue we will go ahead with the enrolment process.

What are some of the skills people develop when they participate? 

People start Screech Arts with varying degrees of experience and knowledge of the performing arts. Our workshops and performance programs focus on developing skills such as: communication skills, social skills, confidence, teamwork, voice, movement, expression as well as the basic elements of drama and dance.

Is it just for fun in class or are there competitive elements?

It really depends on the group you are involved in. Some groups focus more so on the fun, social aspect where the week to week learnings are key. Our more advanced groups devise and perform major public performances for the community e.g. at Anywhere Theatre Festival.

What is the best part for the teachers/leaders involved in the program?

At Screech Arts we really enjoy every moment of success that we see week to week in the workshop spaces. These “moments of success” range from small instances of interaction and building confidence, to artists performing on stage for the first time. For example, when a participant grows enough confidence to participate in an activity they haven’t done before. A client makes a new friend. Or one of our artists using their communication devise for the first time during a performance to say their lines. Our large scale performances are pretty special too, but it’s the week to week “moments of success” that makes a Screech Arts Technician job the best in the world.

Can Participants receive financial assistance for the program through their NDIS? 

Screech Arts includes an upfront termly course fee and hourly supports within the program. These costs can be fully funded under NDIS plans using the CORE support line items. This helps support the majority of our artists to attend the program.