The homeless population is rarely given a voice in contemporary society, and even more rarely is that voice allowed to sing. Organizers of the Cultural Olympiad, the series of performances centered around the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games, hope to do just that, giving over 200 artists who have experienced homelessness a chance to participate in an Open Mic Showcase. This is the first time the Olympics has given the homeless an official platform, after displacing more than 2 million people through the past 20 years of Olympic games.
The performances, taking place at the Royal Opera House, will feature homeless art groups such as Cardboard Citizens, the Choir with No Name, Open Cinema and Streetwise Opera. The day will be divided into 5-10 minute slots which will include song, dance, drama, poetry and film. The event will also showcase international homeless artists, playing pre-recorded performances from Melbourne and Osaka's homeless choirs.
Boris Johnson, London's Mayor, commented: "As we strive to end rough sleeping in London, it is important that we recognize and champion the creativity of those who have experienced life on the streets, which is precisely what Streetwise Opera and its fantastic program of events seeks to do."
The effects of such a ground-breaking event will be tangible both on an immediate and long-term scale. Research has shown that building confidence and a skill set has resulted in 60% of the performers showing growth in their lives through actions such as reconnecting with family or gaining paid employment.
10 million free tickets to the event will also be distributed for the event, andRuth Mackenzie, the director of the Cultural Olympiad, expressed that "everyone should get a chance to have a free extraordinary moment of a lifetime".
Take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the scheduled groups, Streetwise Opera: