Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) held our Annual General Meeting on November 7, celebrating a number of firsts during the 2021-2022 Mainstage season, welcoming back audiences and community partners to our venue, and achieving successes within our educational programs.

MTYP is the second largest theatre company in Canada to produce and present work exclusively for children and youth and the only one in Manitoba. It is also the largest centre for recreational theatre education for children in the country. The company continued to find joy as it was able to slowly return to what MTYP does best: present plays that inspire and delight, and work with young people to grow their artistic talents and learn valuable social skills, all in a safe and secure environment. MTYP is thankful to be able to do so on the Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Métis nation. All who work at MTYP are grateful to the Cree, Dakota, Oji-Cree, Dene and all of the custodians of the territory where MTYP works and provides opportunity for play.

Over the past year, MTYP designed its season with an eye to the anticipated effects of the pandemic, and planned a gradual reopening of our facility to the public. In Summer 2021, MTYP offered a limited number of camps as we continued to work within capacity adjustments. In Fall 2021, the company engaged with audiences with a North American premiere broadcast presentation of The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer from The Last Great Hunt (Australia), and produced our own, world premiere broadcast of The Snail and the Whale in collaboration with Tall Stories London (UK). Both shows streamed to viewers across Manitoba.

For the holidays, MTYP’s Midwinter Mosey was the company’s first, winter, outdoor promenade. Audiences braved the cold and were rewarded with hearts warmed from revisiting excerpts from three of our best-loved holiday shows. (Note, it was the last live theatre production still running as the 2021 year closed in December.)

Winter 2022 saw the euphoric return of welcoming in person audiences to our Mainstage with the world premiere of Frozen River, an award-winning play by co-playwrights Michaela Washburn, Joelle Peters, and Carrie Costello. This was followed by MTYP’s first presentation of a South Korean company to Manitoba audiences with BRUSH Theatre’s joy-inducing Doodle POP. The season concluded with the world premiere of the live production of The Bad Hats Theatre’s (Toronto) musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

“While this was not a typical season in any way, shape or form, MTYP found innovative ways to engage with our community, creating space for children and youth to come and play with us,” says Pablo Felices-Luna, MTYP Artistic Director. “I am incredibly proud of the work done by everyone in this organization to welcome audiences back, and delighted that so many people in our community joined us in whatever way they could.”

Even within the challenges of the pandemic, MTYP posted an operating surplus for its tenth consecutive year, a result of strong fiscal management on behalf of the staff and Board, and the ongoing commitments to investments in operating support from public and private funders.

In addition to our Mainstage shows, MTYP’s Native Youth Theatre welcomed numerous young people to theatre classes for Indigenous youth, and MTYP’s School was also busy, engaging with students from ages 3 to 18 in numerous classes. The educational programs employed creative production and presentation formats that showcased the talents and commitment of both the students, and the instructors and teaching assistants who guided the courses and camps throughout the season. MTYP also continued important outreach work with workshops and residencies taking place virtually and in-person with school and community partners. Our facility was once again thrumming with the activity of numerous rental clients as our colleagues in the arts and culture community resumed their own programming within our venue.

The AGM highlighted one particularly significant milestone, announcing that MTYP has retired the long-standing debt which had originated from the move to its facility at The Forks, and related transitions in the following years

“The Board of Directors of MTYP is very excited to announce that MTYP has retired our debt, said Board Co-Chair Louise Pujo. “In 2017 the Board committed to raising $1.5 million to finally close the chapter on the capital debt the organization has been carrying for many years. Thanks to the generosity of lead donors and the work of committed board members, staff, and volunteers, that goal has been achieved. It is especially gratifying to have this resolved during our 40th anniversary. We are now well set for the next 40 years of MTYP sharing a love of theatre with the young people of our province. We are thrilled to be able to dream again.”

Thank you to the community leaders whose donations were instrumental in reaching this milestone: The Asper Foundation, The Cheerful Foundation, The Johnston Group, The Gail Asper Family Foundation, Deborah Gray, Suzanne Munroe, Michael Nesbitt for Caelan, and Mavis Reimer.

The MTYP Board of Directors for the coming year was also confirmed at the AGM, and officers were selected at a meeting immediately following. The 2022-2023 MTYP Board includes: Suzanne Munroe and Louise Pujo (Co-Chairs), Beth Millard-Hales (Vice-Chair), Tyler Seman (Treasurer), Walt Nilsson (Secretary), Additional board members are Karlene Debance, Samantha Dubicki, Richard Fu, Jordan Grenier, Peter Janzen, Braiden Pergis, and Catherine Schinkel.

MTYP gratefully acknowledges the support of individual and corporate donors, and the following funders and sponsors: Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council, Government of Canada, Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg, The Richardson Foundation, The Winnipeg Foundation, The Asper Foundation, The Gail Asper Family Foundation, The Lount Family Foundation, The Johnston Group, Assiniboine Credit Union, Payworks, Inn at the Forks, TD Bank Group, Wawanesa, and Doowah Design.

Manitoba Theatre for Young People is back this season with seven plays on its Mainstage, featuring shows for the public and schools. Frozen River is currently touring Western Canada and CRANKED:The ReMix, (Green Thumb Theatre, BC) is set to tour Manitoba high schools in November and December. In-person classes are underway for MTYP School and Native Youth Theatre programs as are a variety of residencies and other workshops taking place throughout Winnipeg and the province.