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Project information

The Passion

Streetwise Opera and The Sixteen will produce a landmark site-specific production for Easter 2016. An abridged version of Bach’s iconic oratorio St Matthew Passion will be brought powerfully to life as an immersive fully-staged opera starring Streetwise's homeless performers alongside The Sixteen.

March 2016 - March 2016

Charity information: Streetwise Opera

Streetwise Opera logo
  • Need


    Homelessness is not just about housing. People experiencing homelessness have often suffered trauma and abuse; they have low self-esteem and suffer chronic social exclusion which makes it difficult to make positive changes or integrate into their communities once they are housed. As a result of this they often lack the opportunity and social capital to participate in arts and culture. Furthermore, arts projects are impoverished by the lack of social diversity of those participating.


    We will give 30 people with experience of homelessness the opportunity to participate in a professional-level production. Involvement will improve performers’ self-esteem and wellbeing; reduce their social exclusion and create a sense of dignity and pride. Overcoming the challenge of performing in an opera can give people the courage to tackle difficult issues in their lives. The production will also be more interesting as a result of their involvement: greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Stage a production of The Passion with The Sixteen and 30 performers with experience of homelessness


    » Deliver 8 weekly workshops for Streetwise Opera performers and The Sixteen January – March, followed by a 2-week rehearsal period from 14 March 2016
    » Stage two performances of The Passion on 25 and 26 March 2016

    What success will look like

    Success will be delivering the workshops and two performances, with 30 Streetwise Opera performers, to an audience of 800 across the two shows.

  • Impact


    The performers involved will experience improved self-esteem and wellbeing; reduced social exclusion and a sense of dignity and pride. We will demonstrate this through our triangulated evaluation and monitoring methodology: feedback from the performers themselves (through focus groups and questionnaires), their support workers, and observations from our workshop leaders. We will also change the public’s attitudes to homelessness, and demonstrate this through audience feedback surveys.


    There is a risk that performers will drop out due to their vulnerability. Professional support workers will be in all sessions to give pastoral support, minimising the risk of drop-outs. The production will also be structured so that we are not overly reliant on any one non-professional performer.

    There is also a risk that audience numbers are low, but we have strong partnerships in place and a detailed marketing plan to ensure the maximum number of people hear about and attend the production.


    Donors to this project will receive a monthly email updates detailing ongoing activities and any necessary changes that have been made to the project plans. We will also produce a full evaluation report after the production.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £114,051

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,800 Venue hire Hire of rehearsal space and performance venue
      £23,787 Fees Fees for director, conductor, professional musicians x 30, support workers and technical team
      £14,326 Food and refreshements Food for whole cast and crew for entire rehearsal period
      £7,438 Travel Travel costs for personnel travelling to Manchester
      £16,300 Accommodation Accommodation for personnel travelling to Manchester
      £45,400 Production budgets Budgets for set, costumes, lighting etc.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Arts Council England £47,500 Guaranteed
    Macquarie Group Foundation £28,000 Guaranteed
    Small trusts and foundations £5,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will take place in Manchester, which has seen a significant rise in homelessness: a 2014 count showed a six-fold increase in street homelessness since 2010 and the Booth Centre has seen a 25% increase in the number of people accessing services from 2014 to 2015. There is currently a protest camp of homeless people in Manchester with which the council is struggling to engage, so a project to engage people experiencing homelessness in a positive and creative way is much-needed.


    People with experience of homelessness in Manchester will benefit from the project. These are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in the city:
    At the Booth Centre:
    51% have an alcohol problem, 32% have a drug problem
    85% have mental health problems
    25% have physical health problems

    Audiences in Manchester will also benefit, as it will give them a unique artistic experience and a new perspective on the achievements and potential of people with experience of homelessness.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have a strong track record in producing artistically excellent productions (receiving 4/5-star reviews in the national press) involving people with experience of homelessness. Since our foundation in 2002, we have delivered twelve opera productions and worked with over 4,000 people with experience of homelessness. We are experienced in managing site-specific projects; our very first show in 2002 was a promenade performance in Westminster Abbey.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Matt Peacock MBE

    He is CEO of Streetwise Opera and Executive Producer of this production. He founded Streetwise in 2002 and has produced all previous productions.

    Penny Woolcock

    Penny is Director of the production; she is an award-winning opera director and filmmaker, who has directed for ENO and the Metropolitan Opera NYC.

    Harry Christophers CBE

    Harry is Conductor and Musical Director of the production; he is known internationally as founder and conductor of The Sixteen.

About Streetwise Opera


will pay for a performer's food during rehearsals

'It's the highlight of my life. I was living in a hostel. I was destitute but it gave me something to look forward to. I love it'