Circus Network celebrates the art and launches with a swing

Equity designated 2018 as the Year of Circus in conjunction with Circus 250 – the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the foundation of the first circus by Philip Astley.

Coinciding with this, Equity successfully launched its new Circus Network with an event held at the National Centre for Circus Arts on 18 September 2018. The event, attended by more than 50 people from across the circus industry including the contemporary and traditional sectors, combined serious discussion about the challenges facing the industry with networking and socialising.

The development of the Network was initiated by Equity circus members Victoria Amedume and Sean Kempton and supported by the Variety, Circus and Entertainers Committee to provide a space for members to discuss the concerns specific to circus – not always possible within other union structures.

It followed similar initiatives for dance and comedians and acknowledged rapid changes in the industry over the past 15 years where circus has spread into a range of contexts and spaces. The nature of the work can also make it impractical for circus artists to get together. At the launch event discussions were broken down into smaller groups and some of the topics covered were: pay and working conditions; health and safety; Brexit; animal welfare regulations; support for artists at different stages of their careers; mental wellbeing; and equality and diversity. Following the event the network team, which also comprises Red Sarah, Alex Poulter, Joseph Fearn and Tink, and will be supplemented by other members with relevant knowledge, will work on the items raised. Some guidance documents are already in train, others will be put together in the ensuing months and further meetings are planned in other parts of the UK. If you weren’t able to attend the launch but are interested in getting involved in the Equity Circus Network then email Michael Day for more information: mday@equity.org.uk

Meanwhile, on 14 September Equity was present when a flagstone commemorating the 250 years of circus was unveiled in the garden of St Thomas’s Hospital on London’s South Bank on the site of the entrance to the first circus amphitheatre. The stone was unveiled by artists from Zippo’s Circus. Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton said “We are delighted to honour the tradition of circus and Philip Astley’s legacy. Circus has evolved but its core skills and ability to delight audiences of all ages has not changed.”