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Hoping to hit its mark: MTYP launches campaign to ‘expand and renew’ facility

MTYP launches $9 million campaign, pictured on May 7, 2024 (CTV News/Joseph Bernacki) MTYP launches $9 million campaign, pictured on May 7, 2024 (CTV News/Joseph Bernacki)

Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) has launched a multi-million dollar campaign it hopes will keep the stage lights on for future generations.

The $9 million Play It Forward campaign includes plans for facility improvements, new productions, and debt elimination.

“There’s the changes to the space which are not just going to improve the facility, and this building, but also the creation of rituals and theatre which are perfect for those works that you just want 40, or 50 people there, because of the nature of the show, because it’s for very, very young children and their parents. So that is something that we haven’t been able to do yet,” said MTYP’s artistic director Pablo Felices-Luna.

$6.5 million has been allocated for infrastructure investments which will focus on accessibility, and includes an enhanced quiet room, a studio transformation, and other key additions.

“Accessibility is baked into our work, because kids with sensory needs, kids with mobility issues, kids who are neurodivergent are in our audiences, so we need to make the work accessible to them and to everyone who wants to come to the theatre,” Felices-Luna said.

$1 million has also been earmarked for a new production fund which will support play development, something Felices-Luna believes is important for the evolution of the theatre.

“Children and young people change very fast and the work that we make for them has to change at the same pace, so we want to engage in new works, new stories, and, of course, in adaptations of new classics,” said Felices-Luna.

According to a release, the campaign’s first priority was to eliminate the $1.5 million accumulated by the theatre between 1998 and 2012, a mission that it has now officially achieved.

As for when the proposed work is going to begin, Felices-Luna says it’s going to start very soon, and he hopes in “12, 18 months, people can come see all of the incredible things that can happen in the building.”

Meantime, MTYP says the campaign has already raised $7.5 million - an accomplishment Felices-Luna says the theatre is thrilled about. But the organization still needs the help of the community to achieve its ultimate $9 million fundraising goal.

“If you ask anybody who runs long distance, it’s the last stretch which is the hardest. So that’s why we are so excited to be coming out to the community to say look at how far we’ve come, we’re almost there. Please help us cross the finish line,” said Felices-Luna.

MTYP also announced the company Payworks has committed to matching all new gifts donated up to $500,000.

Around 90,000 Manitobans take in productions, presentations, and other activities at MTYP annually.

With files from CTV’s Carie Wilson Top Stories

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