The Globe Theatre didn’t die in vain

The stately Portage Place continues to enhance its offerings for youth. Photo by AJ Batac
The stately Portage Place continues to enhance its offerings for youth. Photo by AJ Batac
Fresh Cut - Brenlee Coates
Fresh Cut – Brenlee Coates

The closing of the Globe Theatre in Portage Place is a major letdown for cinema enthusiasts, true. The theatre often projected movies from outside the mainstream, honing in on festival favourites and independent productions you couldn’t find elsewhere.
But Portage Place can’t be written off with it.
The mall was recently teeming with visitors to its fourth annual community expo for youth and their families. It invited 20 youth-serving agencies to set up booths in Edmonton Court and share what they do to assist youth in finding work, to help them succeed in school or to provide a space and community for them in which to create art.
“This is really a meeting place; it’s a community centre,” says Olga Pogrebinskaia, marketing coordinator for Portage Place. “It’s becoming that, and it’s been that all along, but now more and more people are realizing.
“For me, my push is… that we give youth resources, we give them an outlet for creativity, and we empower them through leadership and entrepreneur strategies.”
Studio 393, which has been housed in Portage Place for the last three years, is a youth-led arts studio on the main floor of Portage Place near the infamous fountain. It connects youth with a multitude of organizations while providing an easily accessible space for youth to create within the community.
Its aim is also to counter the negative stereotypes surrounding the image of youth frequenting the downtown – and the studio has maintained steady attendance.
“They are tremendous help with recruiting the youth downtown, and making leaders out of them.
“It’s so empowering to everybody,” says Pogrebinskaia. “It’s encouraging that they can sustain a program and keep it going and keep people coming through the door constantly.”
Naturally, the Downtown BIZ and Portage Place partnership on the youth entrepreneurs pop-up shop, Launch It!, was a testament to the mall’s commitment to equip youth with outlets for success and creativity, as well.
When Launch It!’s run came to an end, one of the young entrepreneurs, Lennard Taylor, chose to rent out the space (at a generous rate offered by Portage Place) to form his first permanent store.
He has partnered with several other local designers to attract more support for these artists and to showcase their works to the downtown crowd – which he knows from experience proves fruitful for their businesses.
He now carries shoes from the youth-owned Jose & Markham (which has a store in the Exchange District), menswear from dEDIGER, women’s wear from Andreanne Designs Inc., and handmade jewelry from CJ Tennant and Stella Mazza Designs.
“If I could, he would be my mascot for the shopping centre,” jokes Pogrebinskaia.
“Lennard Taylor was a success story. We have another two youth entrepreneurs who are still looking at setting up shop here.
“We’ll continue investing in things like that. As long as we have space, I don’t see why that cannot be used for something so wonderful.”
The focus on local youth entrepreneurs is a purposeful shift in Portage Place’s framework.
“To me, the ideal image of Portage Place is to be supporting that local young talent and buzzing with excitement,” says Pogrebinskaia.
The youth focus can be felt in Portage Place’s regular programming as well. Besides its annual events like Downtown Moves and the National Youth Arts Week, Portage Place is beginning to stage young artists’ concerts over the lunch hour.
The first performance took place May 30 with two local young folk singers, Ila Barker and Cassidy Mann.
With news of the vacancy of the Globe Theatre location, which officially closed June 15, there were already talks about the space being taken over by the University of Winnipeg.
Engaging the youth from the university is another high priority for Portage Place, and with the local representation in its shops and youth-serving agencies, it may just have a reason to keep them there after class.

11 thoughts on “The Globe Theatre didn’t die in vain”

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