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With One Voice International Arts and Homelessness Summit

November 02 2018
"Where do we go from here?" One of the workshop questions asked at the most recent Scottish Arts & Homelessness meeting in Edinburgh. © Ilisa Stack "Where do we go from here?" One of the workshop questions asked at the most recent Scottish Arts & Homelessness meeting in Edinburgh. © Ilisa Stack
As the number of people rough sleeping on our streets grows, so too does the power of the arts to help turn lives around.
In November, Manchester will host the week-long International Arts and Homelessness Summit and Festival from 12th - 18th November. Featuring art exhibitions, music and theatre performances and much more, the festival will close with a 4-day summit at The Whitworth, inviting over 250 delegates from across the globe to gather and share their experiences of how important the arts is in the support of homeless people.

The festival and summit are both curated by With One Voice, an international movement which changes the lives of homeless people with the creative arts. Launched by Streetwise Opera in London in 2012, With One Voice now runs different projects in Brazil, Canada, Japan and USA and has recently worked with Music and Sociology PhD student Shelly Coyne to produce the Review of Arts and Homelessness in Scotland.

‘Arts’ can refer to anything from visual arts, to poetry, to choir singing. The thing that binds all of these creative activities together is the positive impact that participating in them can have. Participating in, or contributing to, creative projects has been shown to reduce social isolation, help build social networks, increase physical and mental health and provide a powerful platform for self expression.

It’s not surprising that joining in arts and music projects is becoming more and more popular among homeless people seeking for ways to express themselves.

The Summit and Festival

The Manchester Festival & Summit aims to showcase existing examples of how art activities can positively impact the lives of homeless people, facilitate networking between like-minded organisations and to promote positive perceptions of homelessness to the public.

Many parts of the week have been organised by currently and formerly homeless people, representing one of the most important themes of the festival: putting people who have experienced homelessness at the centre of everything, from design to delivery. In addition, 50% of the delegate tickets for the Summit are being reserved for homeless, or ex-homeless, people to ensure that at least half the voices are representing real life experiences. By enabling people to come together and create festival of this stature, With One Voice aims to leave a strong legacy for the empowering impact arts can have on those affected by homelessness.

Organisers are estimating that around 20,000 members of the public will attend the festival, which begins on Monday 12th November and will feature film, photography, visual art, poetry, performance, music and interactive workshops run by creative organisations and individuals from all over the world.

The festival will end with a Summit at The Whitworth Art Gallery in Central Manchester on 15th - 18th November. The 4-day conference will cover the themes of People, Practice, Policy, Performance and Partnerships in relation to the world of arts and homelessness. With One Voice have invited 250 delegates from 15 countries to share strategies from different societies who are tackling the global homelessness crisis with positivity and creativity.

On Saturday, the Summit will open its doors to the public allowing anyone to attend and contribute, whilst over 40 free entertainment events in venues and on the street across Greater Manchester. The Summit and Festival will both draw to a close on Sunday 18th, finishing with a performance of Man on Bench Fairytale, a play by formerly homeless multimedia artist, David Tovey.

  • 50% of Summit delegate places are being given free to people who are currently, or formerly homeless.
  • If you are interested and able to attend please visit the With One Voice website for more information, or contact Lora Krasteva (