Off the streets and onto the stage with ground-breaking opera project

People with experience of homelessness will take to the stage and boost their confidence thanks to new funding for a ground-breaking opera project.

Streetwise Opera was founded by opera critic and homeless shelter volunteer Matt Peacock in 2002.

Twenty years later the award-winning charity, with numerous acclaimed productions under its belt, has launched Re:sound – a year-long festival bringing together homeless people with composers, choreographers, designers, filmmakers and singers to co-create a series of micro operas.

Funded with a £94,000 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder – it includes creative sessions running at London’s Southbank Centre and The Magpie Project, which supports mums in temporary accommodation in Newham.

The scheme, which is also running in Manchester and Nottingham, will culminate with the micro-operas being presented live at a showcase performance in March next year.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“There are many charities out there doing vital work providing people with food or a roof over their heads, but Streetwise Opera helps people with experience of homelessness in a different, but profound and lasting way.

“It offers people the chance to learn new creative skills and work as a team but, perhaps even more importantly, encourages self-esteem, pride and confidence – attributes which can change people’s lives for the better, for good.”

The project, aimed at people living on the streets, in shelters or hostels, ‘sofa surfing’ or recovering from homelessness, will also offer visits to professional theatre and opera performances.

Streetwise Opera Chief Executive Rachael Williams said:

“When our performers walk into the session we always encourage them to leave their troubles at the door. They’re not there as someone who has experienced homelessness, they’re there as an artist.

“This identity shift can help our performers view themselves in a different light, which in turn helps them rebuild their lives in the aftermath of homelessness.

“People who’ve experienced homelessness often feel invisible, which is why live performance is key to what we do. Standing on a stage with an audience looking at you and applauding what you’ve accomplished us a profound and deep-reaching experience.”

More information about Streetwise Opera is at www.streetwiseopera.org

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, awarding grants of over £28 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study: ‘The confidence Streetwise gave me was incredible’

Kevin was homeless and attending a support centre in London when he joined Streetwise Opera, staying with the charity for six years, attending many workshops and performing in four major productions. He feels Streetwise was instrumental in helping him stay sober, find permanent accommodation and hold down a job.

He said: “I was an alcoholic and I didn't get on with anybody. I became homeless, lost my job, everything. I was very much in my shell but the confidence Streetwise gave me was incredible. They always encourage you and never criticise you. They're brilliant.”

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK –  www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, a charity founded in 1097 to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is now responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges, and its grants team, City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – awards over £28 million a year to good causes across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services
City of London Corporation
07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk