Case studies of three successful audience and market development projects

Flow Circus

Flow Circus is a series of visiting contemporary circus performances organised by a dynamic dance production company run by artistic professor and dance artist Pirjo Yli-Maunula, based in Northern Finland in the city of Oulu. Flow Circus has succeeded in fostering an impressive collaboration network of local venues and festivals, programming circus throughout. Flow Circus has also succeeded in building new enthusiastic audiences for contemporary circus in the area.

The Flow Circus series is curated by Yli-Maunula and stretches around the year, including both Finnish and international visiting circus performances for all audiences. Collaborative partners include the cultural centre Valve, Oulu Theatre Festival for Young Audiences, Oulu Music Festival, Oulu August Festival, and Full Moon Dance Festival. Yli-Maunula has negotiated different partnership agreements with each festival and venue to suit the requirements of each. The collaboration model of Flow Circus enables festivals, venues and the production company to share in the economic risks of staging work, as well as the benefts of marketing and audience development. www.flowprod.fi/en

Photo: CircusInfo Finland

Baltic Nordic Circus Network

The Baltic Nordic Circus Network was established to develop the circus art field in the Baltic and Nordic countries through capacity building workshops for professionals and the promotion of circus art from the region. The Network started in 2014 and today has fourteen member organisations from six Baltic and Nordic countries. It is coordinated by CircusInfo Finland.

The network has strengthened collaboration among circus organisations and brought together circus artists, critical writers and journalists, producers, and the key developers in the region.

The network activities are based on the needs of the circus community in the Baltic and Nordic countries. The network organises regional meetings for circus professionals and workshops for circus artists, for young circus teachers, for circus riggers and technicians responsible for safety, and for critical writers and journalists on writing about circus art. Through 2016, the network will carry out a series of workshops for circus producers and seminars for key developers and international stakeholders. www.balticnordiccircus.com

Za’atri circus school in Jordan

In spring 2013, Sirkus Magenta started a circus school in the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan in cooperation with Finn Church Aid (FCA). FCA has a wide experience of projects in developing countries all around the world.

Za’atri, located in northern Jordan, is one of the world’s largest refugee camps with over 100,000 inhabitants of which about 80% are under 18 years old. With circus, FCA wanted to provide psychosocial support for young people between the ages of 14-24. With barely anything to do in the camp, the traumatised youngsters and young adults are at risk of social exclusion and even radicalisation. Circus provides participants with an outlet for physical energy and self-expression as well as a haven of joy and laughter.

During the first eight months of 2013, Magenta’s circus trainers stayed in the camp laying the foundations of the school and training the local Syrian refugees as circus teachers. Now the circus school is vibrant and fairly self-sustaining with two female and two male Syrian trainers and over 50 students.

Here is one of the female trainers, Mona’s, feelings on how circus has supported the female participants: “When the students first came here their psychological state was very bad. They used to always be afraid of getting hurt or having to face airstrikes. They were scared when planes flew over the camp. These girls had to witness war. They had to see rockets and burning bodies. They had to see blood. At the circus the girls make new friends. When we’re at the circus, our minds are free of bad thoughts. We can laugh, and tell stories through clowning. In the future, if god allows it, I will be the director of a circus in Syria.”

Here is a male trainer, Anwar’s, account: “I was lost before I met Magenta. I started to see that circus is not just about tricks. It is a way to connect to the heart. What Mika, Topi, Slava, Antti and Kamil taught me is life – how to deal with life. They made my mind, my technique, everything around me. With Sirkus Magenta I felt myself alive. They made me forget the war, the situation in Syria. In the end they made me another person.

Now, nine months later I am a circus teacher. I can teach like Topi. I can love like Mika. I can be patient like Antti. I can joke like Slava. I can look and understand like Kamil and I can share like the girl teachers. Magenta made me. Magenta changed my life. Now I can fly.”

Sirkus Magenta is a social circus association working with various groups at risk of social exclusion in Finland and internationally. They also work with circus as a recreational activity for families and adults in the Helsinki region. www.sirkusmagenta.fi