The Urban Indigenous Theatre Company
In 2002 Playwright, Photographer, Actor and Director Columpa C. Bobb was invited by a local Winnipeg Theatre company to assist with participation in the National Arts and Youth Demonstration Project, a study by McGill University to determine the effect of Arts-based, after-school programming on the psycho social functioning of visible Minority and Aboriginal youth-at-risk between the ages of 10 and 15. Of the five sites chosen nationally, Ms. Bobb's program site was awarded with best practice and the highest retention rate for students at the close of the study in 2003. In response to the success of the programming implemented for the study Ms. Bobb moved to Winnipeg and developed the Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program (Ab-Arts).
In its 10 years of vigorous activity the Ab-Arts program grew in scope from an initial participant base of 35 youth attending 2 classes per week to 500+ Aboriginal youth attending 10 classes per week annually. At the peak of it's activity the Ab Arts program was responsible for delivering between 8,000 and 14,000 individual participant hours of programming per year while employing local Artists, Elders and Indigenous crafts-people. Additionally throughout it's full term, Aboriginal Arts was responsible for 15 live-stage youth productions, 40+ participant created short films and videos as well as thousands of hours of family and community engagement through cultural feasts and presentations. Aboriginal Arts also partnered with many local organizations to offer participant support in various areas relating to the development of effective life skills, self-direction, motivation, crisis management and career development.
Among Aboriginal Arts youth alumni are two registered educators, multiple actively training professional performers (one of whom is the winner of Best Actor at the 2010 American Indian Film Festival for a work by Argyle High School that Ms. Bobb assisted), a chef, multiple front line community service workers, several professional production staff and many in varying other fields of employment. The Ab Arts program was a solid success, however due to budget cuts and the federal reallocation of it's major funding source, the program was closed in 2013.
In response, the core staff of the program decided that action was needed to keep Indigenous Theatre and Indigenous-led, Youth Arts Engagement programming alive in this region. So was born the Urban Indigenous Theatre Company (UITC), a collection of Senior Established Artists and Emerging Indigenous Youth Artists dedicated to the empowerment and engagement of our Indigenous community locally, nationally and internationally.