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MISSION: The Performance Project is an arts community of many ages and ancestries that engages young people in intensive artistic training, inter-generational mentoring, leadership development, and community building through the arts. Tax ID 30-0157803


Organizational History: The Performance Project has its genesis in September of 2000 at the Hampshire Jail and House of Corrections in Northampton, MA. Using a creative process based in ensemble theater,  we provided opportunities for self-representation for men,  women  and youth who were incarcerated, and also those transitioning back into their communities. 

Since 2007, the Performance Project has focused more on youth, using visual and performing arts to bring youth together to create collaborative work and build community. Our members over the years have ovecome difficult beginnings, such as coming from economically oppressed communities, being newly arrived refugees to the US, racial oppression, enduring the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.  Through large scale visual art projects and through First Generation performances, many young adults have expressed their realities and truths through the arts. They have been able to carry their artisitc work and messages beyond their immediate neighborhoods, into theaters and college campuses,  and make a difference in our world.

First Generation represents young adults ages 14-22. These youth may be the first in their family to grow up in this country, graduate high school, go to college, speak English, be incarcerated, be openly LGBT+,  be drug free, be a feminist, break a silence, be an artist, among many other possible "firsts."

In First Generation, members create compelling, high-quality performances that address critical social and cultural issues.  Members support each other, build on strengths, cultivate ambition, and become leaders who build enduring, intercultural networks. We celebrate our connection and our full humanity through the arts. First Generation's work is rooted in the belief that our cultural legacies and family histories are sources of strength as well as struggle, as we shape our own lives, our communities, and our futures.


Inter-Generational / Inter-Cultural Mentoring Community

  • We recognize that we are all learning from each other
  • We draw upon the many skills within our group
  • We form life-long caring relationships over multiple generations
  • We build capacity within the group so that members become each other’s support and mentors.
  • We claim a public voice and seek opportunities for civic engagement

Artistic Training

  • We are committed to artistic excellence
  • We are committed to quality artistic training with talented professionals
  • We set the bar high and members experience the benefits of an intense work ethic
  • We require a level of commitment that stretches most youth’s experience (time, energy and duration of projects/relationships)
  • We require a level of commitment that stretches beyond most families’ expectations
  • We encourage healthy risk taking
  • The high quality of our artistic work opens doors and creates opportunities for members
  • We claim a public voice and seek opportunities for civic engagement


Social Justice – Cultural Activism- Anti-Oppression Work

  • We engage in self-education, analysis, dialogue, and coalition building
  • We develop critical thinking skills and global awareness
  • We support members to commit to their education, four-year college, and beyond
  • We spend time on college campuses and traveling
  • We find every opportunity for access
  • We create performances and visual art that connect the personal to systemic and global issues
  • We build leadership
  • We claim a public voice and seek opportunities for civic engagement