Chair of Trustees

Streetwise Opera is an award-winning arts organisation working with the homeless sector to inspire change and empower people to realise their own creative potential. It aims to transform lives by supporting people to make meaningful connections through the arts, rebuild social networks, improve wellbeing and develop new skills. It engages world-class artists to collaborate with diverse individuals affected by homelessness to create powerful works of art, and to positively impact how society views homelessness. The company uses the arts to explore and innovate how homeless services can be best designed for individuals.

Streetwise Opera runs a programme of singing and creative workshops in London, Manchester and Nottingham which inspire and empower people who are recovering from homelessness. As they engage with its work, participants improve their wellbeing and rebuild their social networks. The company has a robust evaluation system which helps it demonstrate the difference it makes. Its regular workshops provide a dependable source of fun and creativity for people who are often let down by society and services, while its productions offer a platform for people to share their skills and talents, redefining opera and who it is for.

2022 marks an exciting time for Streetwise Opera as it continues to develop and deliver its ambitious strategic plan. Following a restructure of the senior team, its new CEO, Rachael Williams, and a full-time Artistic Director, Martin Constantine, joined the charity in January. Streetwise Opera’s income currently comes entirely from fundraising and donations; it is an Arts Council England NPO and is supported by, amongst many others, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Role specification

In addition to the general obligations of a Trustee of Streetwise Opera, the role of Chair carries the following additional responsibilities:

  • Provide leadership and direction to the Board of Trustees, enabling them to fulfil their responsibilities for the overall governance and compliance, financial health and strategic direction of the charity.
  • Chair quarterly meetings of the Board of Trustees, including the AGM. This includes:
    • Ensuring decisions made at trustee meetings are fair and equitable, and in line with Trustees’ responsibilities, and reflect the aims and values of Streetwise Opera;
    • Mediating discussions taking place during the meetings and bring them to a suitable resolution;
    • Review and approve minutes prior to circulation.
  • Ensure the membership of the Board reflects the diversity of Streetwise Opera’s participants and audiences.
  • As required, act as a spokesperson for Streetwise Opera.
  • Take part in the annual performance review of the CEO and Artistic Director.
  • When appropriate or requested, discuss company matters with the CEO and/or the Artistic Director.
  • Confer with other Trustees from time to time outside meetings on general matters relating to the charity and Trustees’ role within its overall structure.
  • From time to time, confer with the Trustee-chairs of the sub-committees (finance, HR, development, safeguarding, nominations) and keep in regular touch with the Treasurer.
  • Attend Streetwise Opera-produced events where practicable.

In the immediate future, the Chair will advise and work with the CEO and Artistic Director to evolve the 2021-2025 Strategic Framework into a business plan.

Person specification

Streetwise Opera has a strong ethos in its company culture and a hard-working and committed staff team in London, Nottingham, and Manchester. It is therefore seeking a Chair who is similarly values-led and can demonstrate an understanding of and a commitment to Streetwise Opera’s vision and its contribution to the arts and homelessness movement.

More specifically, Streetwise Opera is seeking a Chair who has:

  • A demonstrable passion for the work Streetwise Opera undertakes in the arts and homelessness sectors.
  • Experience and a successful track record in business, or the charity/homelessness/social impact sectors, fundraising, education, local or national government, arts, broadcasting or media organisations.
  • Inter-personal skills and the ability to communicate with third parties on an impromptu basis on any matter relevant to Streetwise Opera.
  • An understanding of the funding and grants environment in the UK.
  • Experience of engaging with high net worth donors and key UK funders.
  • A willingness to work closely with the Executive and fundraising team to introduce new networks to support fundraising success, and contribute to the charity’s fundraising efforts, for example by attending supporter events and meetings with donors.
  • The ability to listen to all voices with differing experience and opinions and guide the Board to the best decision that can be accepted by all.
  • An understanding of and support for Arts Council England’s investment principles.

Additional information

The Trustees of Streetwise Opera have a wide range of skills, including arts and education, finance, lived experience of homelessness, funding and fundraising, social action, and PR and marketing. Streetwise Opera plans to appoint three new Trustees in 2022.

Current members of the Board:

  • Cathy Graham OBE, Chair
  • Rachel Engel (Vice-Chair)
  • Colin Jones, Treasurer
  • Paul Emery
  • Alexis Paterson
  • Jessica Plant
  • Phillipa Reive
  • Liz Sich
  • David Tapper


Streetwise Opera welcomes applications from those who are underrepresented in the arts and homelessness sectors. We particularly welcome applications from those who are underrepresented in our workforce, including disabled people and/or people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process. In line with the Equality Act 2010, however, the organisation may employ positive action where candidates from underrepresented groups can demonstrate their ability to perform the role equally well.

We particularly welcome applications from people who have been affected by homelessness. Those who can demonstrate that they meet the essential criteria in the person specification, and have lived experience of homelessness, will be guaranteed a first round interview. Make sure to communicate this clearly in your application.

Terms of appointment

The time commitment for this role is approximately 12 days per year, consisting of 4 quarterly Board meetings, an annual away-day, sub-committee meetings, and additional ad-hoc engagement. Meetings will take place in the evenings, roughly 6-8pm, and have been held online – which may be subject to change in the future, with possible hybrid options for attendance. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Recruitment process

To register your interest in this role, please visit the NuRole website to enter your details. The deadline for consideration is 22 February 2022.

The team at NuRole will follow up with you and, if your application is taken further, will ask you to sign up to the NuRole platform and submit your CV.

Should you be called to interview, you will then be asked to provide a brief written outline of the reasons for applying for this role.

If you have any questions about the application process, please free to contact us on and we’ll be happy to help.


The position of Chair is unpaid. However, all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred on charity business will be reimbursed.

Trustees are appointed for an initial term of three years, with the possibility of extension for two further periods of three years.