Background & Past Successes:
The Art of the Street Project was initiated in 2003, by Ubom! under the guidance of Rhodes University lecturer and Applied Theatre expert Alex Sutherland, who saw a need to develop a space in which the voices of marginalised young people – particularly former street children – could be heard. The National Arts Festival official street theatre programme became the platform for a yearly play which opened up the stories of these young people to diverse audiences, in a celebratory, affirming way. The development and growth of this project called “Art of the Street” has been thrilling (5 original works have been created since 2003). In 2006 our young Eluxolweni Street Shelter actors were invited to perform their work “Sho’t Cut Corner” in Manchester in the UK as part of the Contacting The World programme. This was a life-changing experience for the 7 young artists from the Eluxolweni Shelter who for the first time experienced crossing the ocean and flying overseas to the UK. Many of these young locals are now walking tall with the Phezulu project in Grahamstown and it is wonderful to see how the long history with the Art of the Street has prepared them for continued arts projects in their young adulthood.

This project was initiated as a means of using the young peoples’ performance and presence on our streets as a powerful voice for their stories, to remind locals and outsiders that these children are as much a part of the artistic community as those performing on established stages. Part of the ethos behind this project is creating a sense of worth and confidence in the young people involved. The Art of the Street project gives the young people a chance to develop their own stories, to further their vision of the world, and expand their opportunities for themselves through the valuable skills they learn through participating in a formal theatre and performance projects.

2009 & 2010:
Thanks to Alex Sutherland, in 2009, a great opportunity arose to allow previous Art of the Street performers to perform in a street theatre event together with Barefeet Theatre from Lusaka, Zambia. The National Arts Festival supported the idea and so with fundraising from either side for travel and accommodation, and Ubom! supporting the production costs with NLDTF funds, Float was created.
In 2010, similarly, the Art of the Street project takes a different form to its format in the past. With Alex Sutherland on a maternity mission, the Art of the Street was left without the expertise required to lead youths from the shelter in the delicate process required when working in this type of drama. And so, reluctant to leave the street theatre sector altogether, Ubom! enlisted the creative skill of Jen Schneeberger to workshop Red Earth which premieres at the National Arts Festival 2010.

The Future:
Ubom! hopes to return to the original Art of the Street in 2011 and beyond, provided funding grants continue to allow this worthiest of projects to run. Eluxolweni provides for the children’s basic needs as well as providing rehabilitation programmes which is where the drama workshops come in to play. Drama workshops, conducted by experts like Alex Sutherland assist in rebuilding self-esteem, a sense of security, and bring hope back to the children's lives.
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