Small Ideas: $10,000

Description

MT Space is seeking funding to take our Young Company to a new level.
In 2008, a Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project took place at a local high school in collaboration with the YMCA and MT Space. It started when YMCA Cross Cultural and Immigrant Services recognized the need for more youth-oriented settlement programs. They partnered with teachers from Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) and artists from MT Space to create the Newcomer Youth Theatre Project. The project is centred on building self-confidence, self-awareness and empowerment through theatre and creative expression for newcomer youth from diverse backgrounds.
The project continues today and has expanded to include several high schools in the Waterloo Region. Over the years, ideas to pursue an extension of the program emerged, with a strong desire to provide an opportunity for the youth who wanted a more intensive experience creating and producing theatre. As the Newcomer Youth Project only occurs once per school year, there is a lack of continuity and further development for those who expressed the need for building on the new skills they had discovered.
With the support of a KW Community Foundation grant, MT Space was able to do a Young Company pilot project in which invited youth from the Newcomer Youth Project came together for two weeks in August 2015 and performed a showcase of their work in MT Space’s biennial international theatre festival, IMPACT 15. The process led to collaboration between the Young Company and the Suubi Youth Performance Troupe from Uganda and a showcase with the two groups at the Registry Theatre in October 2016. This performance was a part of the Dream for Uganda project.
This past IMPACT 17, the Young Company embarked on a unique partnership when they had the opportunity to create and perform an original piece at the historic Schneider Haus, discussing issues of displacement and occupation within a colonial setting.
We now feel the need to build on this momentum and continue developing the Young Company.
Our aim is to bring together a group of culturally diverse youth who will be engaged in the process of developing and rehearsing an original work that they will create, while receiving mentorship from culturally diverse artists and artistic associates of the MT Space. We emphasize the need for mentors and facilitators of the Young Company to identify as artists of colour. Over the years, we have learned the value and necessity for these youth to learn from and be inspired by culturally diverse role models. As a part of MT Space’s mandate of creating space for marginalized artists, we feel the need to have artists of colour in directorial and leadership roles and to be in decision-making positions, where they will be able to frame the program from a place of self-identification.
It is said that art strengthens our resolve to be who we are, and we strongly believe this, as we support new work by culturally diverse artists. The Young Company, along with many of MT Space’s activities, centralizes culturally diverse voices in our community so that we are no longer referred to as “marginalized peoples”. By fostering our leaders of today, we ensure that our efforts continue and new leaders can feel empowered to not only follow in our footsteps but walk with us as we build bridges of understanding and awareness.
These youth carry experiences, histories, and stories into this country and into their new lives. By creating a space where these stories can be shared, we are building a sense of solidarity and community. Kitchener is already home to a significant number of immigrants and refugees, and now more than ever, it is especially important for these stories to be told and to be heard. Storytelling is one of the most powerful community building tools, and as we have seen repeatedly, the process of collectively creating a work forges strong bonds that break patterns of isolation, and lead to lasting friendships.

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WATERLOO, ON

The Multicultural Theatre Space (MT Space) Inc.

Location: Waterloo Region, ON, Canada