Young Identity (YI) is a Manchester-based literature and performance arts charity; creating opportunities for young, marginalised people at risk of excellence to take part in writing, performance and theatre in greater manchester, nationally and internationally.
We are redefining the parameters of poetry by creating the highest quality, most original, most representative and exciting poetic theatre and cross-artform performances in the UK. By championing the creativity of young emerging artists, we nurture and develop them into the writers, performance artists, theatre-makers of tomorrow. We shine a light on underrepresented voices and stories and create distinctive work for national and international audiences. Our mission is to develop literacy, critical thinking and creative skills in young people.
YI began as a voluntary youth-arts performance project founded by director Shirley May and Ali Gadema; Ali left in 2014 to pursue a career in acting but has remained one of our Associate Directors. Young Identity is supported by a dedicated team of freelance professionals, a committed board, a steering group of young people and the wider arts and cultural sector.
The Manchester-based charity Commonword hosted Young Identity for several years before it became a charity in December 2018.
Young Identity has worked with artists such as Zena Edwards, Joelle Taylor, Saul Williams, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Kae Tempest and the late Amiri Baraka.
Our work has been featured at Manchester International Festival for consecutive years, commissioned to write and perform ALPHABUS (2019); the story draws on global myths, faiths and traditions, a synergy of transatlantic street dance and poetry. We have performed across the UK, from the South Bank Centre, London to Birmingham, Hippodrome to Hay Festival. Internationally, we have performed at The Schaubühne (Berlin), Frankfurt International School, Brave New Voices and Nuyorican Poetry Café (US)
During the pandemic, YI adapted, moving our in-person workshops online; we have returned to our roots with YI in the Community working locally by hosting sessions for young creatives in Greater Manchester and East Lancashire. We create opportunities for Young Identity’s Alumni members as freelancers to support workshop facilitation on our projects.