With One Voice

A choir of people experiencing homelessness in Rio de Janeiro. A powerful global movement of arts and homelessness.

Creativity and Mental Health

Project overview

With One Voice is a well-established homeless choir training programm, founded in 2015 in Brazil and led by musician Ricardo Branco. The project with homeless singers was the first in history to be part of the official cultural programme of the Summer Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro.

Later, the choir became part of a global movement which connects arts and homelessness organisations and policy makers internationally.

The activities have resumed after a brief pause over the lockdown. The members have been meeting once a week again in the Museum of Tomorrow to rehearse, touch base on their mental health and needs and perform all over the city of Rio.

Meet the choir


2012  was the first time in history that an event for homeless people was part of official Olympic celebrations. Over 300 people with experience of homelessness from organisations all over the UK performed at the Royal Opera House. After this major event, Streetwise Opera and People’s Palace Projects coordinated a 3-year Arts & Homelessness exchange programme between Brazil and the UK.

Brazilian artists, activists and government representatives  came to the UK to meet top organisations in the sector and UK delegates travelled to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo for training sessions and performances.

How the projects has developed over the last decade:

Phase 1

In April 2015, People’s Palace Projects  produced and coordinated a visit by the Brazilian network to Manchester and London. We shared practice and experiences, and engaged with policy makers on housing, homelessness and the arts in the UK and Brazil.

Phase 2

In November 2015, we took a group of artists, activists and NGO directors from the UK to Rio and São Paulo for a week. The group included Pete Churchill from The Choir with No Name; Terry O’Leary of Cardboard Citizens; Paula Lonegan of Crisis Skylight; Paul Ryan of Café Art; and a group from the homeless sector in Manchester, including Amanda Croome, the director of the Booth Centre (a homeless day centre), Beth Knowles, a Labour Councillor involved in homelessness, and Jacek Kmita, a Booth Centre volunteer with lived experience of homelessness.

During this exchange, we piloted in São Paulo a project methodology that Café Art have been producing in the UK in recent years, developing a Minha São Paulo Calendar. 100 cameras were given to people with experience of homelessness in São Paulo and the 13 best photos (chosen by public vote) became a calendar that was sold to support projects in Arts & Homelessness in the city.

See Minha São Paulo calendar video below.

Brazilian partners engaged in the network include the Homeless People’s Movement in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; in São Paulo, Organização de Auxilio Fraterno (OAF), Os Satyros theatre company, independent artist Helder Holiveira, and the Human Rights Secretariat of the Prefeitura de São Paulo; and in Rio, Associação Solidários de Amigos de Betânia, Crescer e Viver social circus, and the Social Development Secretariat of the Prefeitura de Rio de Janeiro.

Phase 3

In July 2016, homeless people took over the streets of Rio in an artistic occupation week of pop-up performances and workshops as part of the 2016 Cultural Olympiad (‘Celebra’). Entitled Uma Só Voz, the week ran between 19 and 23 July 2016 and hoped to increase visibility and dignity for Rio’s street homeless population.

The week culminated on Saturday 23 July when With One Voice launched the first ever international arts and homelessness movement. The launch event featured local and international performances including a Rio choir performing on stilts, a dance work by Sokerissa from Tokyo, and a verbatim theatre piece directed by Marcus Faustini and performed by a Rio transgender homeless person.

The Uma Só Voz week also involved a delegation of 18 arts practitioners, policy makers, people who have experienced homelessness and a researcher coming to Rio from projects in the UK, Australia, Japan, the USA and Portugal. These include Som da Rua, Milk Crate Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, Kamagasaki Arts University, Sokerissa, Cardboard Citizens, Manchester Homeless Charter and Choir with No Name. They took part in performances, training and meetings with Brazilian organisations to exchange ideas, policy and practice.