Shirley May - Young Identities - Manchester

Young Identity's voice cuts through the noise. We are unique, different and stand out. We believe in the transformative power of the arts on young people's lives.  Our mission is accessibility for all to the arts, writing and performance.  A dynamic and innovative organisation, we nurture the talent of tomorrow, empowering disadvantaged and under-represented young people to fulfil their artistic potential.  Our life-changing programme supports and develops emerging writers and performers to become the artists and professionals of the future.  We create a safe space and family-like environment, placing self-expression, artistic excellence and diversity at the heart of everything we do.


Young Identity works to increase the aspirations of our participants, empowering them to continue with education, employment and/or training, whilst giving them the toolsneeded to be pro-active members of their communities.


The emphasis of the work we deliver is twofold: self-development as writers and artists at an individual level, aiding participants to find their own voice and explore their experiences and thoughts; and on the development of an artistic community linked into the wider community, with an emphasis on intercultural understanding. Underlying our approach is a belief that community-based artistic development promotes empowerment, advocacy and social cohesion as well as raising aspirations and skills and enhancing educational and employment prospects.


We hope to equip our participants with the skills and confidence necessary to be community champions and significant contributors to the creative industries and cultural landscape of Manchester as writers, performers, educators and peer mentors.


We do this through a high-quality workshop provision. The workshops utilize industry professionals and will take a holistic approach to nurturing the personal and professional potential of our participants. We have been around since 2006. We run ‘One Mic Stand’, a popular poetry showcase which takes place at Contact. YI have performed all over the UK including the Southbank in London, The Hay Festival and BBC’s Contains Strong Language (Hull City of Culture 2017).


Young Identity has worked with artists such as Lemn Sissay, international spoken word icon Saul Williams, dub poetry legend Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ted Hughes Prize Winner Kate Tempest and the late Amiri Baraka.


The work of Young Identity has also featured at Manchester International Festival as part of FlexN (a dance style pioneered by New York’s Reggie Roc Gray), a collaboration between local dancers and the poetry collective to explore new ways of storytelling through words and movement. YI have performed all over the UK, from BoxedIn in London to Hay Festival in Herefordshire as well as internationally at Frankfurt Youth Poetry Slam in Germany to America’s Nuyorican Poetry Café.