Culture

Streetwise Opera: 'The arts are part of the support that people need'

Matt Peacock, CEO of the groundbreaking Streetwise Opera, says the homeless need more than housing

Creativity is fundamental to who we are as humans. Participating in the arts builds people up – their well-being, confidence, self-esteem, their pride, their dignity. It also builds bridges for people who have experienced homelessness back into society.

Homelessness isn’t just about housing, it’s about people thinking of themselves as human, as people who have experienced trauma, how they can make sense of that, how they can stop feeling just like a problem but instead as a person with ideas and skills. Once they feel there is a way forward, the arts can help them become less isolated.

Together with the Gulbenkian Foundation and many other arts and homelessness groups, Streetwise Opera produced With One Voice, an event during the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrating the achievements of 300 homeless people.

The arts can help them become less isolated

Now we are working with officials from Brazil to help them strengthen the arts and homeless sector in the run-up to Rio 2016, and with groups including The Big Issue Japan ahead of Tokyo 2020.

In every country the same conversations happen. In Brazil, where there are thousands of rough sleepers, one homeless person told me: “Arts are important here, it gives people dignity.” There is a universality of homelessness, and also a capacity in the arts to be a small bit of a really vital process.

The arts isn’t the only solution, neither is simply housing. The arts and sports are a small part of a jigsaw of support that people need.

Join The Ride Out Recession Alliance

The Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) will develop and implement practical steps and solutions to prevent families losing their homes, and help people remain in employment.

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