With One Voice to become independent

With One Voice, the international arts and homeless movement which was founded by Streetwise Opera, is to become an independent charity from 1 April 2019.

Award-winning charity Streetwise Opera, led by Co-Executive Directors Susie Gorgeous and Bridget Rennie since 2016, will continue its focus on artistic excellence and social impact, working with people who are or have been homeless. Its work includes staging critically-acclaimed opera productions and a programme of creative activities in arts venues and homeless centres across England.

Headed up by Streetwise Opera’s founder, Matt Peacock MBE, With One Voice aims to strengthen the arts and homelessness sector through international exchanges in practice and policy. It grew out of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London, where 300 performers took part in a showcase event at the Royal Opera House, the first time in Olympic history that a platform had been given to people who are or have been homeless.

Since then, With One Voice has gone on to facilitate exchanges at the 2016 Rio Olympics, in Japan, the US and Canada. In November this year, With One Voice will host a four-day summit and week-long festival in Manchester, with over 250 delegates from fifteen countries. Half of the summit’s delegate places will be given free to people who are or have been homeless. More about the summit and festival at http://www.with-one-voice.com/summit-festival.

Streetwise Opera will recruit a new Artistic Director, the post currently filled in a part-time capacity by Matt Peacock, later this year as Matt leaves to take up his full-time role as Director of With One Voice. The two charities will continue to work closely together and Streetwise Opera will be an active member of the With One Voice movement.

Cathy Graham, Chair of Trustees of Streetwise Opera, comments:

‘The Trustees of Streetwise Opera have worked closely with Matt to nurture and grow With One Voice, providing a safe haven for incubation of this major international initiative, with consideration of future best governance in mind throughout.  The time is now right for the initiative to become its own charity and for Streetwise Opera to continue to develop its vital work in the UK.  

‘At the heart of this is the vision and commitment of Matt Peacock.  With the generous support of its funders, including The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Macquarie Group and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a new international charity is born.  Similarly, Streetwise Opera has an exciting future ahead of it under the leadership of its Co-Executive Directors, Susie Gorgeous and Bridget Rennie.  I pay tribute to all of them, and to our trustees, and look forward to a close relationship between the two charities in the future.’

Matt Peacock, founder of Streetwise Opera and Director of With One Voice, adds:

‘With homelessness on the rise globally, there has never been a more important time to enable people to have their voice heard, to build bridges of opportunity and understanding in society and to nurture well-being and respect. I believe passionately that the arts is an important piece of a ‘jigsaw’ of support for people who are or have been homeless.

‘Streetwise Opera means everything to me and I have been so fortunate to have been part of the story. And the charity itself has been lucky to have Susie Gorgeous and Bridget Rennie who have been heading up Streetwise already for two years as Co-Executive Directors. Their leadership, care and strategic vision have taken Streetwise Opera to another level alongside the incredible group of staff, trustees, volunteers and performers. The charity could not be in safer hands.’

Susie Gorgeous and Bridget Rennie, Co-Executive Directors of Streetwise Opera, comment:

‘With One Voice has developed into a groundbreaking venture which has gathered such great momentum that it is becoming its own independent charity. We are all very proud of that. We look forward to leading the next chapter of Streetwise Opera’s story alongside a new Artistic Director, and we will continue to work closely with Matt and the With One Voice international movement, as we share with the world the best practice and inspiration from our award-winning productions and life-changing workshops.’

With One Voice’s independence is made possible thanks to the generous support of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK Branch; Macquarie Group Foundation and Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The new charity will be kindly hosted at the offices of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK Branch.

Streetwise Opera is an award-winning performing arts charity for people who are or have been homeless. We run creative programmes in five regions across England and stage critically-acclaimed operas. Our latest major production, Tell Me The Truth About Love, was performed at Sage Gateshead in April 2018 (‘A powerful and inspiring show’ ★★★★ The Guardian).

With One Voice, founded by Streetwise Opera, is the international arts and homeless movement that aims to strengthen the sector through exchanges in practice and policy. The movement focusses on strengthening existing projects, helping new projects to being, raising awareness of the role of arts in homelessness support and influencing policy. WOV was instrumental in creating the first arts strand of a civic homelessness strategy with Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.