‘Play it forward’: Manitoba Theatre for Young People kicks off fundraising campaign

The Manitoba Theatre for Young People kicked off its Play it Forward capital campaign Tuesday to raise $9 million for the organization.

This is the largest fundraising campaign in the MTYP 42-year history, and the campaign would look to transform the theatre by eliminating $1.5 million in debt, $6.5 million for facility improvements, and $1 million towards establishing an endowed “New Production Fund”.

While the debt elimination is self-explanatory, the plans to improve the MTYP facilities are robust. The hope is to make MTUP truly accessible to audiences and artists of all backgrounds and abilities, undertake capacity enhancements, improve and expand its “Quiet Room”, and transform Richardson Hall into the Richardson Studio Theatre.

MTYP artistic director Pablo Felices-Luna says these improvements will improve the ability for all young Manitobans to enjoy the theatre.

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“We’ve always believed that we needed to reflect our audiences in our work, in the stories that we tell, in the way that we tell them,” Felices-Luna explained. “So 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 everybody who wants to come to the theatre.”

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Even though the campaign only kicked off today, Play it Forward campaign co-chairs Matt and Jane Johnston were thrilled to announce they had advanced support totalling $7.5 million of the $9 million goal. With only an additional $1.5 million needed to complete the campaign, MTYP has partnered with Payworks which has agreed to match up to $500,000 of new commitments to help the final stretch of fundraising.

Felicia-Luna was beaming when asked about how much the support of the community means to him and the rest of MTYP. Saying that with the already significant amount of funds raised, some work can already begin.

“One of the great things about being, $7.5 million into a $9 million campaign is that the work is going to start very soon, a lot sooner than than you imagine,” said Felicia-Luna. “If you’ve been in this building, it’s busy all year round. There isn’t a downtime when we can say, well, maybe that’s when the renovations will happen. The renovations are going to happen all the way through the year until they’re complete. So our dream is that in 12, 18 months, we’ll be able to say, come see all of the incredible things that are have happened.”

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