This is another unusual post. (I seem to be making a habit of that just now, but normal business will be resumed shortly.) It’s about Streetwise Opera, a community music organisation that works with and supports people with experience of homelessness. I first heard about them about 15 years ago, and I’ve seen several of their productions over the years. They are artistically ambitious and socially invaluable. Most of their work is new music, and involves outstanding musicians, composers and community artists, as well as a stalwart team to make it all happen. They work in London, Nottingham, Manchester, Gateshead and Teesside, and they should be well supported by public authorities and charitable foundations.
But they’re not. So they have to crowdfund, and they are now trying to raise £12,500 for a new show in Middlesborough in July. Tonight, they have 61% of that from 143 supporters, and just six days left to raise the rest. The money will pay for food during the intensive rehearsal period, and costumes for the performers. Over the years, I’ve done what I could to support them financially, and I’ve given to this appeal too. If you can help, even the price of a coffee will help them.
Today I stood waiting for a friend outside a coffee shop in the city of London, a few hundred yards from the Bank of England. In an alcove by my feet, lay the bedding of a homeless person, left exposed to the pigeons and the gaze of passers by. But this is such a common sight, in the fifth richest country in the world, that we hardly see it any more. I want to live in a country where everyone has a decent place to live, and where they can get the support they need. I want to live in a country where a company like Streetwise Opera can provide that support without asking strangers for help. But I don’t, and so, on behalf of Streetwise’s members, I am asking for help. This too is part of community art.