What is Hidden Spire?
Hidden Spire is a unique collaboration between an arts centre and a homelessness centre.
In 2011, at the Old Fire Station in Oxford, two charities decided to move in together and experiment with how to share a building. This meant finding new and innovative ways to meaningfully include people experiencing homelessness in the day to day life of a public arts centre.
The result is Hidden Spire. And it works like this:
People experiencing homelessness are invited to take part in, and lead, high quality artistic work in our theatre and gallery.
They are trained, in any element of the arts centre they are most interested in, in a way which works for them. This doesn’t need to relate to art.
They watch shows for free - complimentary theatre tickets are available to people experiencing homelessness to be a part of our audience alongside other members of the public. They can also usher shows as part of our volunteer team.
All of this means people who have been through an incredibly difficult time can choose to take off the label of being ‘a homeless person’ and become who they really are: an actor, a poet, an illustrator, a theatregoer, a volunteer, a trainee.
Some clients have gone on to become fully fledged members of the staff team and joined our Board of Trustees. This means the Old Fire Station is now governed in part by people who originally came in because they had nowhere secure to live.
The Hidden Spire website is a celebration of all the theatre productions, exhibitions, and experiences people have had at the OFS because of the relationship between our arts centre and Crisis. Most importantly, it shows that excellent art and inclusive art can be the same thing.
Welcome. Explore. And if you can, please support this vital work.
Hidden Spire makes Oxford a better place.
Art is for everyone. Everyone has potential.
Why call it Hidden Spire?
If you stand in a certain place in Gloucester Green and look up at the Old Fire Station, you’ll see something you might not have noticed before. We call it the Hidden Spire. It’s a Victorian hose tower, which in the 19th century, children would have to climb and hang leather hoses to dry when the building was a working fire station.
In a city of ‘dreaming spires’, it doesn’t quite fit. It’s hard to see. It’s not as ornate as the college architecture that brings so much attention to our city. But – it’s there. It belongs. It has character. It is beautiful.
You just have to stand in the right place, and look up.