When an MP in the 1990s said that ‘the homeless are the people you step over when you come out of the opera house’, he inadvertently conceived the idea for a new charity. Streetwise Opera began as a direct result of this comment – a charity that uses music as a tool to support homeless people and help them make positive changes to their lives.
It would be very easy for the idea to be seen as something worthy but ultimately tokenistic. If the productions were
highly professional and of artistic excellence in their own right, on the other hand, that would create real respect and understanding – not sympathy or pity. Quickly, ‘quality’ became a central concept that ran through everything the charity did – the proverbial ‘writing in the stick of rock’ – and we wanted the entire experience and delivery of our work to be informed by quality.