Our Story

Photo Credit: Moonlodge by Margo Kane, directed by Corey Payette, Actor: PJ Prudat, Produced by Urban Ink and presented at the Talking Stick Festival, Lighting by Itai Erdal, Production Design by Marshall McMahen. Photo by Corey Payette.

For over 20 years, Urban Ink, and its circle of artists have broken barriers, through stimulating story, performance, and media.


Urban Ink uplifts Indigenous and diverse voices through storytelling and performance.


Community: We create relationships rooted in inclusivity, diversity, and reciprocity.

Integrity: We strive to be humble, accountable, and truthful, and encourage care and respect in our circle.

Bravery: We honour the courageous creators, change makers and storytellers who bravely share their voices and ground us in stories of who we have always been and who we could become.


We acknowledge and pay our respects to the territory that we travel through and share our stories on. To the Traditional Owners, Elders, Ancestors, and Young Leaders of these territories: We acknowledge, with full respect, the strength of Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) and communities who are continuing to practice culture, connecting and reconnecting to land; and we acknowledge the power and excellence of Indigenous peoples and communities fighting to protect and look after Land, Community, Language and Lore, in the face of ongoing colonial interruptions and cultural genocide. In particular we acknowledge and pay our respects to the sovereign peoples of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl’ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) on whose unceded land Urban Ink is based.

Always was, always will be, sacred Indigenous land.

For over 20 years, Urban Ink, and its circle of artists have broken barriers, through stimulating story, performance, and media. As we look ahead to the next 20 years to come, we strive to continue an Indigenized practice that centres Indigenous and diverse voices, making space for our communities across Turtle Island.

Founded in 2001, Urban Ink Production Society was created by Marie Clements as an Indigenous and multi-cultural theatre company and produced over a dozen new works for the mainstage, including Marie’s Burning Vision (2002 Governor General Award Nomination) which toured nationally to The Festival of the America’s (2003) in Montreal, and played at the inaugural Magnetic North Festival in Ottawa (2003). She continued to push the size and scale of Indigenous performance up until her final Urban Ink production Copper Thunderbird (2007) at Canada’s National Arts Centre English Theatre.

In 2007, on the opening night of Copper Thunderbird, Diane Roberts was named artistic director. Over the next seven years she built Urban Ink’s foundation through the creation of new work, touring internationally to the Caribbean, and working in collaboration with rural Indigenous communities. During her tenure Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of by Omari Newton was developed and produced in association with Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal in 2013/14. The production was remounted in 2016 and played in the Yukon and North Vancouver, and was produced again in 2018 at the National Arts Centre.

In 2014, Corey Payette became artistic director. Corey’s work expanded our audience and connected us to new communities across Turtle Island. During his time he directed the first new production of Margo Kane’s Moonlodge since 2000, presented Freedom Singer by Khari Wendell McClelland, Andrew Kushnir, and Jodie Martinson, and wrote and directed Children of God which has toured consistently for the past 4 years (The Cultch, National Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre, Western Canada Theatre, Segal Centre, Surrey Arts Centre, Vernon Performing Arts Centre, The Capitol Theatre, & Key City Theatre) Recent work has also included the premiere of Les Filles Du Roi by Corey Payette and Julie McIsaac in Vancouver in 2018 which won 4 Jessie Awards in 2018, the co-production with Caravan Farm Theatre of Sedna by Corey Payette, Reneltta Arluk and Marshall McMahen in 2018, and the founding of the TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival with The Cultch.

We are proud to be an organization that recognizes diverse leadership at all levels to be the root of our success. We celebrate the complexities of our mixed identities and welcome all peoples in our circle.

During the great pause of in-person gatherings, we have looked inward, developing Indigenized practices to better serve our community at every level of our organization. We’ve also worked to expand our digital presence, first through the digital Transform Cabaret Festival in 2020, and most recently in our upcoming documentary feature film. With national recognition of the importance of our work increasing each year, we are excited about what the future holds for our Urban Ink family.

Stories That Transform Us poster

Our history has been showcased as part of the documentarfy Stories that Transform Us.