On Wednesday, 23rd May, the circus community of Wellington was granted an audience with the 15 elected officials of Wellington City Council, as part of their 10 year plan.
We had a slideshow of images playing in the background, showing circus artists around Wellington, and internationally. We had a 10 minute presentation slot. Speaking were Jason, Rosalie, and Imogen. We were also supported during the presentation by Degge, Jackie, and Tanya. With additional development support by Katherine, Mary, Malia, Zane, and many more members of the circus community of Wellington.
Our focus was to show the importance and presence of circus as a regarded performance art. Supported to the same level (as in other countries) as music, theatre and dance.
We provided the following double sided handout (these are a low resolution version of what was printed).
These were our spoken words:
Thank you for giving us your time today.
I’m Jason, from the Circus Hub. This is Rosalie, representing circus at the international stage. And Imogen, speaking for local professional circus artists.
We’re all speaking on behalf of the Wellington circus Industry. We’re passionate, and we would like you to continue to invest in the growth of circus arts in Wellington.
Wellington Circus Trust, trading as the Circus Hub, is a not for profit. It was formed in 2007. The Circus Hub is now NZ’s largest Circus training school.
We currently run 60 circus classes a week for adults and young people.
We have 15 trainers, teaching over 1,500 students each year.
We provide subsidised training facilities for professional circus artists.
4 years ago, Whitireia developed New Zealand’s only, and rapidly growing full-time Diploma programme in circus, who train at the Circus Hub, and will be the future of our industry.
Our ‘Summer School’ brings in professional international artists to teach in NZ.
Whilst our students and staff have gone on to perform and teach around the world, many continue to return to Wellington to live and train.
Last year I know some of you saw 12 of our Circus Hub students and teachers, perform to a sell out audience at the Michael Fowler Center, with Orchestra Wellington.
Circus is a highly accessible art form, and we contribute artists to many of the significant investments around Wellington, including WOW, Weta, CubaDupa, …
Circus continues to grow at an exponential rate in New Zealand. There are strong ties within the national community. We are uniting through the Aotearoa New Zealand Circus Association to progress circus across NZ.
It is imperative that we protect and develop professional training spaces in Wellington, and support the continued growth of this exciting industry.
It’s my privilege to introduce Rosalie from Montreal, a former Cirque du Soleil artist who has taught and performed internationally for over 10 years, who’s been heavily involved in Circus in Wellington for the last 3 years.
Hello, I would like to give you give you an idea of what the circus industry overseas looks like.
The circus industry works in a very unique way, and travel is a major part of the life of circus professionals.
The typical circus artist travels internationally for their contracts, and comes back to his chosen base city to train and create. Major centres have developed around the world, and they attract circus professionals with their support structures in place. It seems that one city stands out in most countries, and it usually happens around a major circus school. What this means is that it has created over time, an international circuit for travels, and professionals have created strong connections around the world. It gives the circus industry a very unique global quality as it works on a very large scale, where people end knowing each other very well all around the world.
2 of those major centres are Montreal, that many people now consider as the world circus capital, and closer to us, Melbourne.
Both are relatively young and have evolved around their renowned schools, the National circus school of Montreal and the National Institute of Circus Arts.
To give you an idea of the scale it can grow to, the Canadian network En Piste has close to 250 members in the city of Montreal. This includes 170 artists and over 20 companies. From these, 2 of them employ more than 50 people, and one, Cirque du Soleil, almost 1500 people in Montreal alone. Circus there has grown to the point where the arts council, of Montreal, of the province of Quebec, and of Canada, now all recognize circus as its own legitimate art form, to the same level as dance and theatre.
Last year’s edition of the Montreal Circus Festival attracted 437 000 spectators. It is an accessible, versatile, and exciting artform, that has the potential to attract a type of audience that is usually hard to reach. With the right conditions in place, its popularity can explode,
Let me introduce you to Imogen, a local artist who has toured internationally and performed in many of Wellington’s events including for WOW and Weta Workshop. She is now running her circus production company COLOSSAL here in Wellington.
I’m a local and have grown up within the Circus Hub over the past 12 years. The growth in the Wellington circus community over this time has been phenomenal! The more I tour and train internationally the more I realise Wellingtons potential to be the vibrant circus capital, in our corner of the world!
What I love about circus is its versatility. The way it intersects with other artforms, the different environments it thrives in, and it's multidisciplinary nature. From aerials and acrobatics, to juggling and character performance. There is a field for anyone -Making Circus the diverse community that it is.
It’s an exciting time for circus in Wellington. With the strong connections between ANZCA, the Circus Hub, Whitireia’s bachelor course and emerging local companies. We are laying the foundations for a thriving Circus industry and it presents a real opportunity for Wellington.
To attract more international artists. To excite and engage broader Wellington audiences, and to create opportunities for artists to create and work locally - in their own unique voice. A voice which will become distinctive, and something for kiwis to be proud of.
This 10 year plan couldn’t have come at a better time, we want to let you know that we're here, we're working really hard, and we want to be an influential part of Wellington’s creative future.
The same foundations here in Wellington are being laid in Auckland and Christchurch. There will be a strong circus industry in New Zealand, it will look like Melbourne and Montreal. We need to work with you if we want Wellington to remain New Zealand's capital of Circus which i believe will become an integral part of achieving our cities creative goals.
Thank you so much for taking this time, we look forward to meeting you all. If you have any questions we'd love to hear them.
What do you want?
To have a seat at the table, in discussions for the advancement of performing arts in Wellington.
To ensure the security of our professional training facility, long term.