Streetwise Opera - Giving
homeless people a voice
The award-winning charity using music to help people
who have experienced homelessness make
positive changes in their lives
Streetwise Opera do this through weekly music programmes in homeless centres and arts venues across England, and by staging critically-acclaimed opera productions starring our performers.
Their productions ('Awe-inspiring' ★★★★★ The Times) platform the skills of their performers in a professional arena, showing them that whatever life throws at you, you can achieve great things. Underpinning these productions, their workshops are a dependable source of creative activity in lives where everything else can be changing.
In 2000, a resident of the Passage (a homeless night shelter) read out a quote from a politician in the newspaper, saying that ‘the homeless are the people you step over coming out of the Opera House’.
The comment made some people angry whilst others saw it as an opportunity – if homeless people were in an opera it would challenge the public's attitude to homelessness. It would shine the spotlight on achievement rather than need and turn stigma into celebration.
Matt Peacock (Streetwise Opera’s founder who, at the time, was an opera critic and support worker at the Passage) worked with the residents to put on a production of The Little Prince at the Royal Opera House. It was an immense success, creating transformational impacts in the lives of the people involved, as well as receiving great acclaim from the public.
The performers asked 'what next?‘, and a programme of music workshops in homeless centres was developed. Streetwise Opera was established as a charity in 2002, and has gone from strength to strength, working with thousands of people who have experienced homelessness to create positive change, and staging 12 critically-acclaimed opera productions which have been presented across the country and internationally.
Their work improves wellbeing and increases social inclusion for some of the country's most vulnerable and socially excluded people.
'You come here and you leave your troubles at the door. Once you walk out the door, your mindset’s different‘.
Involvement with Streetwise Opera can be the first rung on a ladder of self-confidence for people who are or have been homeless and/or are vulnerable and isolated. Through working in a safe and supportive group and participating in opera, an art form that many perceive as elitist, people's beliefs about their capabilities are fundamentally challenged and changed. By developing new skills, meeting people, being creative and simply having fun, people feel better about themselves and are more able to take on life’s other challenges – such as engaging with services, living independently, getting involved with community life and securing employment. Click here to see a visual of their Theory of Change.
Do you want to support more people to achieve these amazing life changes? Click here to donate to Streetwise now.