Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Sil­ver­man’s sud­den fir­ing came be­fore the or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has seen a spate of key staff de­par­tures, had fi­nal­ized its 2013-14 sea­son. Since then, Ba­jon has at­tempted to gain the rights to plays and hire direc­tors for a list of shows Sil­ver­man had in­tended to pro­duce. The work­load be­came too oner­ous.

“I’m leav­ing be­cause I can’t take it any more,” says Ba­jon, who pre­dicts his suc­ces­sor faces a three-to fiveyear job to turn MTYP around. “Last night I was up to two o’clock in the morn­ing toss­ing and turn­ing about all the things I have to do. I’ve re­al­ized that I’ve bit­ten off more than I can chew.”

The trou­bles at MTYP, which ends its sea­son with the fi­nal per­for­mance of Zoozoo on Sun­day, are not un­usual for young peo­ple’s the­atres across Canada. Sev­eral com­pa­nies are hurt­ing fi­nan­cially and the mea­sures it can take to change that are lim­ited. MTYP has never had a deep-pock­eted bene­fac­tor to come to its res­cue in times of eco­nomic cri­sis and cor­po­rate sup­port was spotty right from the time money was so­licited to build MTYP’s dis­tinc­tive $5.2-mil­lion home at The Forks, which opened in 1999.

Mavis Reimer was the MTYP board pres­i­dent in the late 1990s and did her share of door-knock­ing at city busi­nesses. She found her pitch in­cluded much ed­u­ca­tion about what MTYP is and what it con­trib­utes to the com­mu­nity. Of­ten she was told MTYP was a sec­ond-tier com­pany.

“It is not as pres­ti­gious to be as­so­ci­ated with a chil­dren’s the­atre as it is with an opera com­pany or sym­phony,” says Reimer, a Univer­sity of Win­nipeg English pro­fes­sor and Canada Re­search Chair of Young Peo­ple’s Text and Cul­tures. “Th­ese are much more vis­i­ble mark­ers of high cul­ture.”

Many would sug­gest that Win­nipeg has a thriv­ing cul­tural scene due to MTYP’s grass­roots devel­op­ment of fu­ture arts con­sumers. Reimer says that MTYP is an amaz­ing ac­com­plish­ment and speaks to Win­nipeg’s dis­tinct cul­ture.

“Maybe there’s a need for an­other round of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion as to what we have in the city at The Forks and why we should want to fight to keep it,” she said.

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