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My story

"Hope is life's greatest treasure. If you have no hope, create some." Daisaku Ikeda

I'm Omar Shahryar, opera composer and PhD student at the University of York.

Growing up after 9/11 as a mixed-race Scottish-Bangladeshi, it pained me to feel that my part of my identity could be seen as a threat by society and the media, while I was also afraid of the worsening threat of extremist violence. 16 years later, I've created a unique project where I can contribute my perspective and skills to creating a more harmonious society. Now my project needs your help.

The Identity Crisis Project

The Identity Crisis project aims to use opera to engage young people safely and sensitively with issues surrounding terrorism. The project started with facilitated group dialogues with teenagers at North Huddersfield Trust School about terrorism's causes and effects. Creating a safe space for young people to discuss sensitive topics and practice critical thinking forms a key part of the approaches to peace-making and extremism-prevention.

Inspired by the discussion, I put together a team (see 'Project Partners' below) to make an opera called "A Shoe Full of Stars", focusing on young people, courage and dialogue rather than on terrorists, politics or religion. This opera is for everyone to enjoy , and we hope students, teachers and parents will use it as an educational discussion point. Our aim is to make:

  • 2 professional-standard performances at the prestigious Lawrence Batley Theatre (Huddersfield) and University of York, followed by a Q&A panel of counter-extremism specialists, community leaders and some of our young participants
  • a beautifully-shot video of the opera to be hosted online and form part of an educational package for teachers

I want this project to inspire dialogue and listening, as these simple acts can disarm the threat of hatred and instead build bonds of trust. With extremism being such a sensitive subject, this project could provide schools and parents an engaging way to deliver Prevent Strategy; indeed, 5 other schools have already expressed an interest in the project's future.

But without your help now, there will be no future for this project.

Our Crowdfunding campaign

With your help, I aim to raise £4,330 to make and film the opera. Your gifts will pay for:

  • Script R&D: £1,000
  • Professional Video making of performances: £1,330
  • Rehearsal director x 10 sessions: £2,000

Every contribution towards our maximum target of £10,715 will boost the project impact and help with:

  • Documentary filming of workshops: £920
  • Set, props and costume-making: £1,220
  • Lighting budget: £2,125
  • Technical design costs: £2,130

If we raise more than our target, we'll set up a Transport Fund to help school audiences cover the costs of attending performances..

Regular campaign updates will be given every Tuesday and Friday.

Project Partners

To deliver this project, I will work with:


    As way of thanks, you'll receive a gift according to the size of your donation. You can find more information about this on the donation page (follow the links at the top or bottom of this page).

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