Hip hoppin’ youth took part in three days of fun in downtown Winnipeg from May 1 to 3 during National Youth Arts Week. And thanks to Graffiti Art Programming Inc. and Studio 393, the youth were provided with an outlet for expression and a safe place to have fun and just be kids.
Lesther Sanmiguel, who works for the City of Winnipeg as a contracted artist at Studio 393, located on the 2nd Floor in Portage Place, says it’s an opportunity to help inner city youth through art, providing other opportunities that will keep them entertained, safe and off the streets.
The kids targeted are those living in neighbourhoods in and around downtown Winnipeg, where they are more vulnerable to the influence of gangs.
According to Bob Veruela Jr, Programs Director at Graffiti Art Programming, the importance of making a new identity for the youth through arts programming, as well as creating a positive environment, helps to remove one of the many negative stigmas these children face.
Studio 393 offers a place for them to find their talents through learning art, dance, music recording, film and many more opportunities for creative expression.
Veruela says this allows kids to see themselves as artists and enables them to have fun and meet other kids in a safe place.
Many volunteers, usually artists, offer their time in creating fun learning projects for the kids, allowing them to play and be who they are without judgement.
During National Youth Arts Week, Studio 393 offered a collaborative art project party on May 1, which was displayed publicly during the event.
May 2 the Studio offered a dance party where kids learned Breakin’, House and Hip Hop choreography.
May 3, from noon to 4pm, was the Downtown Moves! It was a day to celebrate dance and music featuring Winnipeg’s finest dance and music crews.
All the events were offered free of charge. One of the sponsors, The Winnipeg Foundation, had a sign displayed along Studio 393 during the May 2nd event as the kids were doing some serious moves on the dance floor that was set up on the main level at Portage Place.
All and all, these events and projects made for an amazing National Youth Arts Week. Perhaps, equally as important is the ongoing activity generated by Studio 393 and Graffiti Art Programming all year round.
All photos by Marie LeBlanc