In 2024, our Western Edge artists will be developing our community youth theatre productions – known lovingly as our ‘Edge Ensembles’ – right across Melbourne...
Edge Ensembles: Community Youth Theatre
FIELD OF INTEREST
- Arts and culture
- Community and economic development
- Asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and people from CALD backgrounds
- Young people (6-25)
In 2024, our Western Edge artists will be developing our community youth theatre productions – known lovingly as our ‘Edge Ensembles’ – right across Melbourne’s western suburbs, from Footscray to St Albans to Wyndham. “What was it like to be a participant in an Edge Ensemble? Honestly, life-changing.” – Previous Edge Ensemble participant, now Lead Artist and Sub30 professional ensemble member.
Melbourne’s West is one of the fastest growing and most multicultural areas in the country with the highest population of young people. With over 130 cultural groups, 150 languages and 49% of people who speak a language other than English at home (the highest in Victoria) in an area that spans 6 local government areas, the West is one of Australia’s most culturally and linguistically diverse regions.
It is also home to the most socio-economically disadvantaged LGAs in Victoria, with Brimbank as the most socio-economically disadvantaged, followed by Wyndham (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage).
Our Edge Ensembles are the beating heart of Western Edge where we welcome in young people aged 13-30 to work alongside our artists to learn the fundamentals of performance making and support them to create their own new theatrical performance.
The Edge Ensembles run for fifteen weeks as free theatre workshops in Footscray, Werribee and St Albans. Our young participants engage in two hours of co-designed creative theatre practice per week to create an original, professional theatre production that is performed across multiple arts venues across the West.
The final productions showcase and celebrate young participants’ work throughout the year. The productions showcase the learnings and discoveries of the young participants to families, friends and community members, pride and resilience and provides a space for inter-generational knowledge-sharing and exchange.
For some, the Edge Ensembles are a safe space to meet people, relax, find peace and build confidence. For others, it has become the place they have met lifelong friends. Others still have used the courage they have developed throughout the programs to be leaders in their schools, families and communities. And for others still, it has been the entry point to their artistic career, providing the tools, connections and community to develop their artistic practice and set them up for success in the greater arts sector across stage and screen.
We have run this program since we started in 1994, and have seen first-hand its life-changing impact on young people.
This funding will support us to run the Edge Ensembles, a 15 week community youth theatre program in three key hubs across Melbourne’s western suburbs, leading up to a professional production touring across three community arts centres. Tickets are free or low cost to ensure accessibility by the community.
This program will allow young people in Melbourne’s West to connect with each other through arts, culture and play-based activities, in particular young people from culturally diverse communities, from low-incomes and from communities experiencing high-rates of unemployment.
Through the Edge Ensembles, they will learn creative skills around theatre making, gain confidence, make friends and improve their mental wellbeing.
When you get to see the same people each week, you get into such deep stories about your lives, and you feel very connected to others. As a young person you are trying to find something, somewhere you feel like you belong. Being involved with Western Edge changed my life.” - Previous Edge Ensemble participant, Support Artist, Lead Artist and Board Member
In this program, young people and emerging artists grow and develop at all levels, whether as participants and performers, Support and Lead Artists or production staff. In particular, artists who have been through our Edge Ensembles programs and continued onto careers in the arts continue to come back to work with us, often in more senior leadership roles, and continue to give back to, inspire and support the next generation of young people coming through our programs.
“As an Edge Ensemble member I had the opportunity to experience a free training pathway which has supported me in finding my artistic agency within the company and I have noticed the development of my own creative practice.” - Previous Edge Ensemble participant, now Lead Artist and Sound Designer for Western Edge productions
We will evaluate this program through Takso, our planning and evaluation framework, which has been developed in partnership with the Cultural Development Network since 2017. We document each project’s goals, evidence, activities, and documentation, through debrief and feedback sessions with participants, community members and staff; and through case studies with individual participants. We will track and measure improvements in social connection, wellbeing, employment skills and professional practice capability.
We are Western Edge, the only theatre company working with young people from culturally diverse and marginalised communities across Melbourne’s vast and vibrant western suburbs, which is one of the most multicultural and fastest-growing areas with the highest proportion of young people in Australia.
Our goal is to create a thriving community of next generation artists shifting the culture of art making in Australia. We tell Australia’s new stories as a young coalition of powerful artists and storytellers.
We create brilliant, courageous and subversive theatrical performances that challenge the mainstream establishment with a new creative culture and process. Our stories are grounded in our culturally diverse, refugee and migrant diasporas. Our work is embedded in community and carried out in local spaces across the West.
Since 2005, Western Edge has delivered over 150 programs, from annual in-school residencies and community youth theatre projects to major creative collaborations and residency programs with mainstage arts organisations.
Our key areas of activity include;
- In-school residencies and workshops with government schools in low socio-economic communities in Melbourne’s West;
- Our community youth theatre program, the Edge Ensembles, that bring together young people to devise and perform their own original productions
- Masterclasses to support training and upskilling across our community of artists
- Our New Work program, including a playwright commission and biannual premiere of a new production.
- International engagement and collaboration with theatre companies in the Global South
We represent the ambitious, vibrant future of Australia and its stories.
TOTAL BUDGET: $176,325
|Maribyrnong City Council (confirmed)
|Wyndham City Council (unconfirmed)
|Brimbank City Council (unconfirmed)
|Newsboys Foundation (confirmed)
|Hugh D.T. Williamson Foundation (confirmed)
|Funding Gap (unconfirmed)
|Lead and Support Artist Wages (10 staff for 18 weeks at Live Performance Australia Rates)
|Community Engagement Coordinator
|Program and Production Costs (Access Costs, Venue Hire, Set and Staging Materials, Costumes, Catering)
|Marketing and Promotion Costs
Support Edge Ensembles: Community Youth Theatre
Got a question about this project or ready to contribute? Contact us.
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