Brazil-International exchange at the Rio 2016 Cultural Olympiad

For the third With One Voice exchange in Brazil (now widely known by its Portuguese name, Um Só Voz), we are bringing a delegation of 17 practitioners, people with experience of homelessness and policy-makers from around the world to Rio in July 2016 as part of the Rio 2016 Cultural Olympiad.

Our partners in Brazil (including the Homeless People’s Movement, local government officials, homeless centres and practitioners) have now formed an arts/homelessness committee and network which is overseeing this part of the project. They want to create an ‘occupation’ of the streets of Rio by homeless people through the arts. They hope this will create visibility, dignity and respect for homeless people.

The week-long exchange will include:

·         Workshops in homeless centres, cultural venues and on the street given by Brazilian and international partners in a wide range of artistic disciplines including music, theatre, poetry and dance

·         Cultural exchange between arts practitioners from Brazil and other countries

·         Pop-up performances around the city –  by the 11 choirs that have developed through With One Voice (led by Ricardo Vasconcelos) and a verbatim theatre piece developed by Marcus Faustini working with women who live on the streets

·         An exhibition of arts and homelessness from around the world

·         A main celebration event at Biblioteca Parque at the end of the week including performances from: some of the choirs (including the results of a widely-anticipated collaboration with Rio social circus Crescer e Viver); theatre from Brazil; dance from Japan; music from Portugal; and the launch of an international arts and homelessness movement/network that we have been developing through With One Voice

The international delegates taking part in the exchange include staff, practitioners and performers (including those who have experienced homelessness) from:

UKCardboard Citizens (a theatre company and the UK’s leading practitioner of Theatre of the Oppressed), The Choir with No Name (UK’s leading choir of homeless people based around England), Streetwise Opera (opera company involving homeless people in five towns/cities around England); Jez Green from Mustard Tree (who is involved in implementing a new Homelessness Charter in Manchester inspired by the Homeless People’s Movement in Brazil); and Shelly Coyne, a PhD research student who is founder of Givin It Ladlie (a group of choirs in Scotland including those with homeless people)

PortugalSom da Rua (a band and choir who use percussion made from recycled material in their performances)

AustraliaMilkcrate Theatre (theatre company using forum theatre)

USATheatre of the Oppressed New York City (theatre of the oppressed and legislative theatre company)

JapanSokerissa (a dance company involving people who have experienced homelessness in Tokyo); and Cocoroom/Kamagasaki University of the Arts (a multi-dimensional arts programme that has developed for homeless people in Osaka)

We have focused a great deal of developing choirs in Rio, building on the one existing choir which was in operation when we began the project. We have been working with the choir leader, Ricardo (Rico) Vasconcelos, who is now working full-time on the project. He has set up a further 10 choirs (some based in hostels and day centres and some based on the streets) and has been training choir leaders. Pete Churchill from The Choir of No Name has given support and training to Rico and will be training other leaders in Rio in July.

Following the Cultural Olympiad, we will put in place a sustainability/legacy programme that will continue to build the capacity of arts and homelessness projects in Rio and Brazil.

Huge thanks to all our partners in UK, Brazil and around the world, including the main supporters – Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, British Council Brazil, Macquarie Group Foundation; our main delivery partner, People’s Palace Projects; the international organisations above; and our Brazilian partners – Secretaria de Desesenvolvimento SocialPrefeitura do Rio de Janeiro, Secretaria de Cultura – Prefeitura da Rio de Janeiro, Movimento nacional de População de Rua, Museu do Amanhã, Biblioteca Parque, Projeto Circulando, Defensoria Pública do Rio de Janeiro and Circo Crescer e Viver.