Brazil: Paidéia Asscociação Cultural is a non-profit cultural centre founded in 1997. Ever since, the centre works with socially disadvantaged teenagers and children, following the artistic guidelines of Waldorf education. About 120 young people attend Paidéia on a regular basis and participate in theatre projects and workshops or lectures and discussions. Ten people offer these activities: actors, educators, artists and pedagogues, who dedicate themselves to the initiative. They are being supported by a large number of volunteers.
It is an evening in the middle of the week and the doors to the auditorium of Padéia are wide open. The place is packed. Some of the people sitting in the audience attend a theatre play for the first time in their lives. And if it had not been for one of their relatives, constantly talking about the performance, they might not have attended a theatre production for another long period of time. Everything seems new and unfamiliar, similar to the history of the organisation forming the background to the theatre and its actors. Imagine not long ago, there used to be a waste deposit on the very spot of the small (70 seats) and the larger (100 seats) theatre.
A lot of dedication and support from domestic friends and friends from abroad was necessary, in order to create what Paidéia Asscociação Cultural is today. But it was worth the effort. In the meanwhile, the story of the success of Paidéia has even reached the broad public of São Paulo. In 2009 Padéia has been rewarded for the fifth time by the city’s award for the promotion of theatre ("Projeto Municipal de Fomento ao Teatro para a cidade de Sao Paulo").
The performances of the actors during the week are meant to be for interested people, friends and teenagers. That way, all the people and public schools are reached which represent the focus of Padéia’s work. This is due to the fact that Padéia closely works together with students of the neighbouring public school. The team of the initiative also supports the teachers of public schools, who often have to work in different schools during the day, in order to be able to live of their salary. For them, teacher training is being organized as well as one tries to sensitise the teachers for the students with artistic elements.
Every Saturday interested teenagers can participate in a manifold of offers, including workshops, project groups, lectures etc. and all of this for free. There they find inspiration and encouragement to creativity, reading and independent shaping of their future. Thus another possibility is added to the two life options from which teenagers, living in the favelas of Sao Paulo, usually choose: drug trafficking or underpaid temporary jobs. In that respect it is a huge success that teenagers, being encouraged by Padéia, who otherwise probably would not have had a chance to study, start their university education. For them, the “planks” of Padéia really mean the world.