Empowering Youth Through the Arts
Founded in 1990 by Freddie Hendricks, YEA is the south’s premiere African-American youth theatre company. The company is comprised of more than seventy (70) young people ranging from ages 8 to 24. Through many work sessions and rehearsals, the members of this dedicated ensemble are inspired, through the performing arts, to explore and express their feelings and concerns about the world within and around them.
YEA has helped thousands of Atlanta youth to change their world. Utilizing the power of the arts, YEA has fostered the personal growth of hundreds of young people from childhood to adulthood. Along the way, these talented and dedicated performers have developed crucial communication and life skills that have resulted in heightened cultural awareness, a commitment to excellence and community service, and an appreciation for diversity.
YEA is committed to the socio-economic diversity of our ensemble members and the life-long relationships formed in the company. These young people see YEA as a safe haven where their voices can be heard, where they are free to creatively express themselves without fear of reproach, and where their uniqueness and individual strengths and talents can be nurtured and appreciated.
From 1994 to 2000, YEA was the resident youth company of 7 Stages. In 2001, YEA dropped its fiscal agent and became a 501(c ) (3 ) tax-exempt organization, secured our own office space and hired our first full-time staff member. Since then, YEA has more than tripled in size. We now have four full-time staff members, an annual budget in excess of $300,000 a year and an increased profile, including major grants from the Bank of America Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Zeist Foundation and Theatre Communications Group, as well as support from the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund.
While we are best known as a professional theatre company for youth, our main charge is not to create great shows and talented artists. YEA’s primary programming goal is to develop youth with the skills and desire to succeed at whatever they do in life. Through the ensemble activities, members become empowered, develop self-esteem and confidence, explore the keys to problem solving and learn to face the challenges in the world around them. There are no greater tools for success in life than these.
YEA’s productions have been performed in packed houses around the world with glorious critical acclaim. In addition to our renowned training and performance programs, YEA offers:
- An intern program (GRIP – Growing Reaching Intern Program)
- A music production program (HAMWAM – Hot and Awesome Music With A Message)
- Free tutoring services to ensemble members
- The Tippy Toes Arts Program to reach children ages three to ten
- The Youth Empowerment Summer peer-to-peer outreach program
- International cultural exchanges in Africa, Europe and Asia
- College scholarships through the Jekonni Barber Memorial Scholarship Fund