HOME – Arts & Homelessness Festival

HOME – Arts & Homelessness Festival

Join us for a week-long celebration of arts and homelessness projects in Coventry, created and co-produced by people who have current or previous lived experience of homelessness. The festival takes place at venues across the city centre between Friday 8 – Saturday 16 October, coinciding with World Homelessness Day on Sunday 10 October 2021. The festival provides a platform for the brilliant work of Coventry’s homeless citizens and creative communities.

Underground Lights has partnered with and been involved in the festival on a number of projects which you may be interested in coming along to and supporting.


Send a Smile postcard exhibition

Beginning in Coventry during the pandemic, the Send a Smile postcard project has travelled to homeless communities in the USA, Brazil, South Africa, India, Japan and Australia. This international project was designed by Hayley Harman and Beth Fiducia-Brookes from Underground Lights as a way to engage creatively with people experiencing deep isolation in hostels during lockdown.

The project aimed to get people thinking about smiling by encouraging participants to decorate postcards as a way of recording their feelings of joy. After its success in Coventry as part of the Creative Packs project (involving the Belgrade Theatre, Crisis, Arty Folks, Grapevine and City of Culture) the project was extended to communities around the world with the support of Arts and Homelessness International, with some of these postcards now being displayed at the HOME festival.

The exhibition will be ongoing throughout the festival and displayed at the West Midlands Police Museum, the Belgrade Theatre and the City of Culture shop in Coventry.

Visual Arts Exhibition = HOME

Created by artists across Coventry with current or previous lived experience of homelessness, ART = HOME is an exhibition of phenomenal visual artworks sitting alongside pieces from international artists who have had similar experiences.

The value of the arts has never been stronger. With the onsite of the global pandemic, arts became as important as medication, helping with isolation, resilience and mental health during lockdown. When tackling issues around homelessness and isolation, arts and access to cultural experiences sit alongside housing and healthcare in these solutions. The arts may not provide a home, but they can provide a route to one.

The project was created in partnership with One Festival of Homeless Arts and co-curated by David Tovey (Arts & Homelessness International) and Hayley Harman (Underground Lights and the HOME steering group). Incorporating a range of art forms, including painting, sketching, murals and sculpture, the exhibition features work from Underground Lights members and others with personal experience of homelessness.

The exhibition will be on display at the Belgrade Theatre between 8th -16th October.


HOME Grown Film Night

Home Grown film night will be showcasing short films based on existing community garden projects coordinated by Grand Union in Birmingham and by the Foleshill Community Centre in Coventry. The festival will be showing two films that Underground Lights have collaboratively created.

Underground Lights: The Shed

The Shed is a short filmed project starring Michael Green and the voices from a wide range of our community in Coventry who have experienced homelessness. The film is directed by Francesca Robson, filmed by Ryan Christopher and paired with a new fresh beat from Wes Finch. The purpose of the project is to shine a light on the differing experiences of home; where it might be and what it means.

The project has been inspired by how we can explore homelessness through a different lens, mostly using movement and audio to push our audiences to question and address their own preconceptions of our homeless community.

The process has been long and difficult with many setbacks due to COVID-19, but we finally found a way to capture multiple voices through the help of Benedict Davenport from Crisis and many poignant conversations from two workshops we ran with both Crisis and Underground Lights. This means the audio is a tapestry of voices from across the City and this has created a really beautiful memoir of experiences and stories from the Streets.

Michael’s story which can be seen in the visual has been interpreted through movement and encapsulates his experience of living in multiple different properties and finally living in a shed.

In Michael’s words, ‘I went through hell and back again, but now I can make any place a home’.

Digital Divide

Many of us take digital technology for granted. But as more of our lives are lived online, a lot of people are getting left out. 9 million people struggle to use the internet independently and 7 million people (11% of the UK’s adult population) are still offline (Digital Nation UK, 2020).

Digital Divide is a series of short creative pieces that explores the issue of digital exclusion from a range of different perspectives. The series is funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority and filmed by David Bohus from the Belgrade Theatre’s Media Academy.

The film is the result of our members thinking together about the challenges of being digitally connected and what has helped people to stay connected through the pandemic. It also draws on the results of a survey developed by members. In addition to the film, several Underground Light members ran a workshop at the end of the term for UL trustees and staff members from other local organisations, to further explore some of the issues in more depth.

Film Night will take place on Tues 12th October at The Box, FarGo Village

Guideline Audience Age Range: 18+

The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency

It’s the 70s and there’s a nationwide housing crisis.  John “Mad Dog” Sky is at the helm of the world’s first estate agency for squatters. Lu is hitching from Coventry away from a difficult past towards the bright lights of the city – where punk is just around the corner and anyone can start a band. And Alan & Rosie are plotting to turn their west London neighbourhood into a brand-new nation.

The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency is an inspiring new musical based on the true story of how a small group of revolutionaries proved that real change is really possible!

Based on an original work by Heathcote Williams, written by Coventry-born Sarah Woods, with music by Chumbawamba’s Boff Whalley, and directed by Cardboard Citizens’ founding Artistic Director, Adrian Jackson – the production will also include a choir of local people with experience of homelessness formed in partnership with the Choir with No Name.

Don’t miss out on this year’s must-see musical, part of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

Co-Produced by Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Cardboard Citizens and Coventry City of Culture Trust.

We have 13 Underground Lights members performing in the musical as part of the choir so grab yourself a ticket and come along to support them! It’s time to start the revolution!

Performances will take place between Sat 9th Oct-16th Oct on the Belgrade Theatre Main Stage


These are just a few projects Underground Lights have contributed towards, there are still plenty more projects and opportunities for you to get involved with the HOME Festival! For more information on the festival’s full programme click here.

Whether it be joining our workshops or learning more about the work we do, make sure you register your interest!

Donations enable us to continue our vital work with our members: please do consider helping our work continue by making a donation.