What is Lewisham Urban Opera?
Lewisham Urban Opera will bring communities from across the Borough together with world-class professionals to co-create and perform their own opera, in just one year. The project will be based on residents' own life stories and culminate in a performance as part of the Lewisham Borough of Culture 2022 celebrations.
Building on the Royal Opera House’s iconic Write an Opera programme (1979-2015) and involving 5 schools, a long list of partners and 2 community venues, professional artists will work together with Lewisham residents, to co-devise a major musical multi-platform event.
Participants collaborate in every aspect: composing music and script writing, designing sets, making costumes, performing, managing and advertising. There really is something for everyone: making opera is enjoyable, accessible, will develop transferable skills, link communities and reduce isolation - needed now more than ever.
For more about MTFA please visit: https://musicandtheatreforall.org
MTFA and the majority of its core team is based in the borough. When Lewisham's successful bid for London Borough of Culture was announced, MTFA seized the opportunity to present its very first Urban Opera so close to home.
Led by an exciting team of professional creatives we will bring communities together from across Lewisham to share their stories, learn new skills and develop a spectacular show to celebrate the hope of a worldwide post-Covid resurgence for our Borough of Culture 2022.
This project is intended to reinforce the image of Lewisham as a cultural and educational centre. Collaboration with significant artists, improves their profile and raises the bar for arts in education with interdisciplinary experience.
MTFA held an online Roundtable in March 2021 to introduce and discuss the Lewisham Urban Opera project. 100% of those in attendance thought that Urban Opera is a good idea for Lewisham 2022 and that the project could have a positive impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
What are we fundraising for & why should I give?
The Lewisham Urban Opera project is divided in to four phases. We are currently fundraising for phases 1 + 2 + 3 (see below!), with fund-raising for Phase 4 to start in early 2022. The costs for the first 3 phases come to just under £148,000.
We've submitted a bid to the Arts Council for just over £80,000 and our team are currently pursuing corporate support and grants from Trusts & Foundations.
95 % of funds will be directed exclusively to the Lewisham Urban Opera project, with 5% of funds raised for contributing towards the central costs of MTFA during the 12 months Opera preparation.
We really do believe that this will be a transformative project for the Lewisham Community. We'd be thrilled therefore to raise a substantial part of the budget from a Community fundraiser and for a borough with a population of over 300,000 we believe that is totally possible.
Whatever you can give, whether £5, £10, £50 +, will be utilised to support our work for a creative path to community wellbeing. Please help us spread the word far and wide and we thank you in advance for giving generously.
For more about MTFA please visit: https://musicandtheatreforall.org/what-we-are-doing/
How will it work? Where & when is Urban Opera happening?
The Lewisham Urban Opera Project will run in 4 phases. Community workshops, which are open to all, will run alongside weekly workshops at five Lewisham schools. The project will benefit upwards of 300 participants.
Phase 1 - Exploratory Workshops
Introductory workshops held late Summer 2021, designed to give school children and tentative community participants a sense of what taking part would be like. The venues for these workshops will be announced soon, and they will be delivered with the help of our brilliant partners Lewisham Music, Lewisham Homes and Phoenix Housing Association.
Phase 2 - Skills Building Workshops
Autumn Term 2021 - 58 workshops
8 weekly community workshops, 10 weekly school workshops across 5 schools
Phase 3 - Composition Workshops
Spring Term 2022 - 46 workshops
6 weekly community workshops, 8 weekly school workshops across 5 schools
Phase 4 - Rehearsals and Performance(s)
April - July 2022
Workshop sessions will be 1.5 hrs led by a creative producer, a paid community worker and professional artists: musician, actor, puppeteer, designer, lighting designer for example. The artists will rotate through the school and community groups. Session content includes creative engagement activities such as singing, acting, making, story development and through this approach, participants build relationships with each other and the workshop leads, voicing their stories and learning new skills. A community choir will emerge as a positive legacy of the project, with script writing, design and music composition skills.
Our plan combines virtual and physical delivery which enables people who are shielding to take part. We will show the importance of community-driven collaborative work in a post-Covid society. The legacy of skilled participants working such a large scale public engagement programme has a positive impact on the Community and the Borough - The legacy of the Royal Opera House's 'Write an Opera' programme is re-established.
Lewisham Urban Opera challenges stereotypes, widening opportunities for operatic artists and organisations, whilst channelling participants to opera in traditional sites. Working with partners such as Trinity Laban & Rose Bruford cements a clear line of professional development for emergent actors, singers and technical specialists. Funding for skills development leads to a large scale public performance, raising the profile of opera and each constituent school and cultural organisation as the final work is sited at a regionally important cultural event. Lewisham Urban Opera contributes to and initialises a strategic project to work across the nation, tied to City of Culture events, empowering diverse communities to narrate their life stories on creative platforms, working with regionally significant partners.
Music and Theatre for All is an arts charity (registered charity 1157016) driven by a simple aim: to reach, move and transform people with the best possible live performing art.
We are here: https://musicandtheatreforall.org
- We believe that storytelling, singing and theatre are essential to community and therefore vital for all of us, now and always
- We believe we urgently need to make usable, exciting spaces where storytelling and music-making can happen, pandemic or not, in accessible ways and where anyone can feel comfortable
- We believe accessibility is an integral part of what makes things good
- We believe in the power of beauty, compassion, empathy and tolerance to change lives
- We work with imagination and energy to improve the reach, quality and accessibility of culture for everybody, offering elite cultural experiences without being elitist
Have a look at one of the songs we made with hundreds of friends and neighbours, and one of the first national responses to the Covid crisis back in March 2020, (now archived for the British Film Institute), shown and heard on BBC One and Radio 3, as well as US and Finnish Television, and raising over £10,000 for Help Musicians (and it’s never too late to give – thank you!):
MTFA is proud to be collaborating with a number of wonderful organisations on the delivery of the Lewisham Urban Opera. These include:
Lewisham Council Borough of Culture Team: https://www.iamlewisham.uk/
Lewisham Music: https://www.lewishammusic.org/
Lewisham Education Arts Network: https://www.leanarts.org.uk/
Trinity Laban: https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/
Rose Bruford: https://www.bruford.ac.uk/
Lewisham Homes: https://www.lewishamhomes.org.uk/
Phoenix Housing Association: https://www.phoenixch.org.uk/
Youth First: https://www.youthfirst.org.uk/
The Mind and Soul Choir: https://mindandsoulchoir.org/
A New Direction: https://www.anewdirection.org.uk/
Urban Opera Creatives
MTFA is thrilled to announce a world-class creative team for the Lewisham Urban Opera project.
Gwyneth Herbert - composer & lyricist
Thomas Guthrie - director
Clare Caddick - vocal leader
Hansjörg Schmidt - lighting designer
Sarah Dowling - choreographer
Susannah Tresilian - dramaturg