Photo: Rey Trombetta

Streetwise Opera awarded a £208,445 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund

We are thrilled to share the news that Streetwise Opera has been awarded a £208,445 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support Re:Discover in Nottingham, Manchester and London. This project will enable people with lived experience of homelessness to explore and celebrate the music and culture of composers of African and Caribbean heritage while also developing skills such as research, design and presentation.

Re:Discover includes the co-creation of three new short operas which will be premiered in 2024 in London (May at St John’s Waterloo), Manchester (June at the Bridgewater Hall) and Nottingham (July at the Nottingham Playhouse). The new pieces will be performed as part of a 2-day festival in each city that features music and theatre performances, dance and percussion workshops, and presentations and discussions about the cultural heritage of Africa and the Caribbean.

The project will enable people with lived experience of homelessness, and the wider public, to explore the work of seven composers of African and Caribbean heritage from the 18th century to today. We will shine a light on artists and works that form an integral part of history and inspire participants and audiences to actively engage with their individual musical heritage.

During the next six months, under the direction of Re:Discover festival director Abigail Kelly, we will explore the works of Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint Georges), Ignatius Sancho, George Bridgetower, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Shirley Thompson, alongside folk music from the Caribbean.

The new pieces are being co-created by participants in our weekly workshops at the Southbank Centre, the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Nottingham Playhouse and a series of homelessness services in London, Manchester and Nottingham, working with librettist Paterson Joseph and composers Pete Letanka (London), Lavender Rodriguez (Manchester) and David Austin Grey (Nottingham).

Through partnerships with heritage organisations, music experts and historians, participants will delve into the historical context of the composers’ works. This journey will explore themes of slavery, empire, the equal rights movement, and the artists’ responses to these critical moments in history. We believe that this immersive exploration will not only produce remarkable artistic expressions but also contribute to a broader dialogue on the cultural heritage of Africa and the Caribbean.

Martin Constantine, Artistic Director of Streetwise Opera, said:

“This grant provides an incredible opportunity for Streetwise Opera participants in Manchester, Nottingham and London to learn more about the inspiring music and culture of composers of African and Caribbean heritage. This project will shine a light on work that has too often been neglected and will be led by participants affected by homelessness whose perspective and insights are often unheard. We know from Streetwise Opera participants how impactful this work is. We are hugely excited to be partnering with a host of organisations to support research and thrilled by the prospect of sharing the work with audiences across each city. We are enormously grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting the Re:Discover festival.”

Stuart McLeod, Director England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, people who have experienced homelessness will be able to explore the music and cultural importance of African and Caribbean composers through collections, archives and oral histories. We’re proud to support projects like this as it highlights how heritage can bring people together and inspire others to discover more about their own heritage. We can’t wait to hear how these discoveries will be brought to life through the three new operas.”


Thanks to National Lottery players

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