At Western Edge Youth Arts we create a place where young people can make socially engaged art to change the world and discover some new perspectives along the way.
Many of our performers are unlikely to set foot in a mainstream theatre. They’re under 26 and living in the west or beyond, and move between cultures. Sometimes they’re cash poor, but rich in ways that make for complex, funny, challenging and beautiful art.
Everything we do is underpinned by fun and grounded in theory. We encourage the sort of rigorous thinking that young people can carry into daily life. Many go on to lead their communities with our mentorship.
Professional artists – skilled in community arts, applied theatre and arts education – run workshops alongside culturally diverse emerging artists. Together with young people we find the burning issues and transform them into incandescent contemporary performance.
We’re obsessive about gathering audience feedback and research, and use this to improve our performances and processes.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s some of our most recent research.
Our Artistic vision
Young people who have been part of Western Edge Youth Arts are culturally diverse leaders, artistically articulate and astute. Through their connection with us, communities are stronger, healthy, connected and inclusive. The artistic landscape is enriched with diverse stories that are meaningful to young people and touch the hearts and minds of communities.
Is to enable diverse young people to make sense of the world they live in through art.
For more than 20 years we have worked alongside thousands of young people to make awesome contemporary performance in the west.
We were the first crew at Footscray Community Arts Centre to go out on our own, after earning respect for our luminous workshops and gigs in communities and schools.
We were among the first to use hip-hop in theatre, and write plays about Vietnamese Australian and African Australian youth culture.
Working with professional and emerging artists, we still bring ground-breaking productions to the west. Today there are two ways we play it:
- WEYA Community makes quality contemporary performance that blends complex subjects with high artistic standards, collaborating with young people through our social and community networks.
- WEYA Education teaches more than 600 students a year in performance, film, creative writing and research. Running in ten western suburbs schools, the program can change how young people feel in the classroom and socially.
2015: Iago, a contemporary, fast paced exploration of gender identity and sexual politics in a rapidly changing world.
2014: Scheherazade, set in a haunted warehouse by the Maribyrnong river with a cast of more than 50 young people.
2013: Fate, a fast and funny tale about luck, chance and destiny.
2012: Zamunda, a re-imagining of the 1988 comedy movie Coming to America.
2011 to 2012: Beagle Bay Chronicles, from Broome to Melbourne and back again: retelling oral histories from Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community elders.
2011: Black Face White Mask, a hard-hitting comedy about what it means to be Afro-Australian.
2010: Chronicles: Searching for Songlines, “Community theatre at its finest.” Cameron Woodhead, The Age.
2009: Frolic performed at Signal
2009: Moved to a new home at Phoenix Youth Centre in Footscray, hosted by Maribyrnong City Council’s youth services team.
2006: Western Edge Youth Arts incorporated and became independent from Footscray Community Arts Centre.
2005: Y3P and SCRAYP (two performance programs run by Footscray Community Arts Centre in the community and schools) joined forces to become Western Edge Youth Arts.
1996 to 2005: SCRAYP (Schools, Community, Research, Arts, Youth and Performance) ran in schools in western Melbourne. Young people presented six big performances a year with guidance from artist teachers.
1993 to 2005: Y3P (Young Peoples’ Performance Projects) held community drama and performance making workshops, culminating in a spectacular annual gig at Footscray Community Arts Centre.