Phoenix Blend Hosts Brazilian Art Exhibition

Rio Deputy Mayor representative opens art exhibition by Brazilian and UK artists who have experienced homelessness hosted by a coffee shop with a difference.

Phoenix Blend Café/Supported Employment service, in Bell Lane, near Liverpool Street station, hosted the ‘With One Voice’ art exhibition for two weeks, showcasing life-size models of homeless people, bringing arts and homeless projects from the two countries together, leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The exhibition kicked off with the official opening by a representative of Rio’s Deputy Mayor, Allan Borges, who celebrated with service users, staff and the local community. Allan Borges accepted a framed painting on behalf of the Deputy Mayor of Rio from London homelessness organisations, painted by Café Art’s, David Tovey, to present to a homeless organisation in Rio on his return to Brazil.

Phoenix Blend, which is owned and run by social care charity Vibrance, offers a community hub for people of all abilities. It also offers supported employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.

The ‘With One Voice’ project started in 2012 by Streetwise Opera at the London Cultural Olympiad curated by Streetwise Opera which celebrated the artistic achievements of 300 performers who had experienced homelessness and over 30 organisations who work in the arts and with the homeless.

Following the event, Streetwise Opera was asked by British Council Brazil and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK to research the feasibility and needs for an arts and homelessness project in the next Olympic host city, Rio de Janeiro, leading to the ‘With One Voice’ exhibition.

The aim of the project is to help build arts and homelessness within Brazil and the UK, by developing initiatives within the wider international arts landscape and creating a voice within the homeless community in both countries.

Vibrance, supports over 850 adults throughout London and the South East with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs, offering a range of community services, low-support housing, nursing and care homes, short breaks, supported employment and self-directed services.

Paul Allen, Vibrance chief executive, said: “With such a growing number of homeless people, we’re honored to have supported both Café Art and Streetwise Opera to raise awareness and for hosting the ‘With One Voice’ art exhibition, at our Phoenix Blend Café.

“It’s fantastic to be able to have hosted such a fantastic exhibition, forming an important link between ourselves in the UK and Brazil through the arts running up to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

“The celebrations were a phenomenal success, and I’d like to thank everyone who came to visit the exhibition over the two weeks, making for a very memorable time for everyone at Phoenix Blend Café.”