Over the course of our nearly 25-year history, Common Weal has grown from a grassroots collective to a professional non-profit arts organization.
Common Weal emerged onto the Saskatchewan arts scene in 1992 with the production of Ka’ma’mo’pi’cik, a community play developed, researched, produced, and performed by Qu’Appelle Valley residents under the guidance of theatre professionals. The principals, values, artistry, and community development processes employed through this project provided the basis for the organization to develop into a unique socially-engaged and community-minded professional arts organization.
Common Weal Community Plays is incorporated as a non-profit arts organization and its founding artists become the first Board of Directors. Project development expands to northern Saskatchewan.
The organization focuses on the community of Wollaston Lake, developing the production of Dene Suline HoNiYe (Dene Stories). Common Weal hosts an internationally attended symposium on the community play form at Fort San.
Common Weal moves the community play format into an urban environment with the large-scale production of A North Side Story (or two) in North Central Regina.
Common Weal develops the production of City Flats, which tours the province as a one-act play pulled from experiences in North Central Regina. Writing workshops for the Street Workers Advocacy Project begin.
Common Weal receives core funding from SaskCulture Inc. to support the hiring of a full time Artistic Director. The organization expands its mandate to include community-based participatory arts in all disciplines and a commitment to provide new access to a variety of communities. The Riverbend Writers Group at Riverbend Correctional Facility and Time for Us, a video storytelling project with Elders at the Regina Food Bank are developed to address emerging interests.
The staff of the organization swell to a team of six (project dependent). Projects focus on video and continued exploration of new art forms. Common Weal mentors an emerging theatre artist and supports its first visual Artist in Residence.
Common Weal’s project budget doubles while core funding remains steady. Programming expands with a focus on developing new provincial partnerships, projects, and outreach initiatives. The Pine Grove Writing Circle is established for female inmates at the Prince Albert Correctional Facility.
The first annual Aboriginal Youth Playwrights Festival provides a public forum for emerging writers.
Common Weal moves its core funding from SaskCulture Inc. to the Saskatchewan Arts Board, aligning the organization with peers in the arts. The organization is also granted access to Canada Council project funding. Further organizational development is explored through participation in the Arts Stabilization Project.
Art forms extend to youth arts and audio arts, including spoken word, hip hop, and experimental soundscape. The Board of Directors develops a strategic plan grow the organization with a focus on marketing, project dissemination, financial planning, evaluation, and governance.
Part time Artistic Coordinators in both Regina (south) and Prince Albert (north) are established to extend outreach, access, and project support. This new artistic team supports two major large scale projects, including Prairie Roots youth hip hop and the Prairie Spirit Youth Theatre program serving aboriginal youth.
Projects include the Prince Albert Aboriginal Artist Initiative, Dreaming in Colour, and the publication of a book outlining Common Weal’s model of Artist in the Community collaboration.
Common Weal begins receiving annual core funding through the Canada Council Integrated Arts Program. This funding allows the organization to support full time Artistic Directors (south and north), thus expanding programming and partnership potential. Projects flourish while the Executive Director focuses on organizational foundations. The first 2 Story Cafe and Urbanisms inter-disciplinary art festivals take place in Prince Albert in partnership with IPAC. Dewdney Avenue Project in North Central neighbourhood of Regina.
Common Weal hosts CONNECT: towards a socially engaged aesthetic, a national conference on Community Arts. Vancouver artist Jayce Salloum, along with Saskatchewan artists, initiates a collaborative project with the northern Metis community of Cumberland House and the Red Shift Gallery in Saskatoon.
Common Weal looks back at its 20-year history with the video production of North Side Story (or two) Revisited and the development of a self-published book. Programming begins in Northern Dene community of Patuanak with artist Michèle Mackasey.
Common Weal presents the Arts 4 All Essentials symposium in partnership with Toronto's Jumblies Theatre. Writing for Your Life and Writing on the Wards programs begin with Lynda Monahan in Prince Albert mental health and Parkland Health Region facilities.
Common Weal presents a diverse range of programming including Listen to Dis, a residency presented in partnership with South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre utilizing voice, movement, and theatre techniques to work with members of the disability community under the direction of Project Artist Traci Foster. Common Weal then mentors the group as they become an independent non-profit.