Rapping up

Studio 393’s After School Leaders show off their stuff

Graffiti Gallery is helping take hip hop in Winnipeg to the next level with Studio 393.

The series of free drop-in workshops for youth take place every week at Portage Place Shopping Centre.

“We offer a variety of workshops focused around the four elements of hip hop as well as a large variety of art workshops and projects,” Patrick Skene, Studio 393 studio manager, says.

Workshops include hip hop choreography, breakdancing and rap.

“We have a recording studio, turntables, dance floors, dope art supplies and a great group of people who want to pass on the skills and lessons they’ve learned while paying their dues,” Skene says.

He says their hip hop instructors are world class artists and the best in Winnipeg.

The instructors will work with people of all ages who show up for Studio 393 workshops, but Skene says they try to focus on people age 13 to 28.

“If there were 900 four-year-olds running around, it would be difficult to record your raps and nail that dope dance routine,” Skene says.

Teaching four year olds to breakdance also doesn’t fit in with the project’s goal which is to create community leaders out of youth and young adults in the downtown area, according to Studio 393’s website.

“Ultimately we have a safe space for teenagers and young adults in downtown Winnipeg to be themselves and to create the type of art that they want to,” Skene says.

Skene thinks we will begin to see the impact of the program in the next few years as the youth become the new wave of Winnipeg’s hip hop scene.

But the program is doing more than just boosting the kid’s hip hop skills.

Skene says they’ve seen youth improve artistically and grow remarkably as people.

“Young people becoming confident, proud, skilled and interacting with their community through their own words and vision. As corny as it may sound, there’s days at the studio that are like being in a cheesy after school special. It’s a positive place to be,” Skene says.

For the past few months, Graffiti Art Programming and Studio 393 have been part of After School Leaders, a provincial program where youth spend six hours per week for 14 weeks on early career training, Skene says.

He says their particular program focused on the arts Studio 393 teaches.

On Jan. 13, Studio 393’s After School Leaders participants will be ready to show off their stuff at a free wrap-up show at the West End Cultural Centre which starts at 5:30 p.m.

“We will be showcasing some new emerging rap artists and producers, DJs, breakdancers, hip hop dancers, visual artists and film. It’s a great time and a good place to see Winnipeg’s future artists,” Skene says.

Published in Volume 70, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 7, 2016)

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